Leavitt and Cape Elizabeth are a pair of teams that like to finish.

Not just with their respective star players, Hornets junior quarterback Noah Carpenter and Capers senior receiver/runner/returner Nick Laughlin, but more importantly for Friday’s matchup will be finishing tackles when those players get their hands on the ball.

“Nick Laughlin is a threat to score from anywhere on the field, in a number of ways,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said, adding that he considers Laughlin one of the top five players in the state.

Cape Elizabeth’s Nick Laughlin carries the ball, trying to get past South Portland’s Nolan Hobbs during the Capers’ 41-13 win on Sept. 23 in South Portland. Laughlin had five touchdowns and over 300 all-purpose yards. Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald

The Hornets, however, feature a defense that has only allowed 49 points total in their first five gamesall wins.

“They defeat blocks, run to the ball and finish plays,” Hathaway said.

Cape Elizabeth coach Sean Green noted that when the Hornets’ defenders run to the ball, they do it as a team.


“Their defensive structure is very sound,” Green added. “They play with great physicality. Their running lanes are small and so are their passing windows.”

Finding success against the defense, according to Green, will be blocking and ball security.

Green and Hathaway both highlighted Jake Liess and Brendan Guthrie on the Capers’ (4-1) offensive line. And the skill position players — which include receiver Tom Hennessey, tight ends Luke Mello and Owen Tighe, running back Ceroi Mello and quarterback Michael Foley — holding onto the ball will be key against a Leavitt defense that Hathaway said has been able to create turnovers that tilt games in the Hornets’ favor.

Green said turnovers could be the x-factor in the game, which is a rematch — of sorts — of last year’s Class C South regional final, won by the eventual state champion Capers on the final play of the game to cap off a long finishing drive.

Green added that eliminating big-play opportunities will be important for the Capers, who are ranked No 8 in the latest Varsity Maine football poll.

The Hornets, ranked second in this week’s Varsity Maine football poll, have shown the ability to break open those big plays, with Carpenter — whom Green called the best player the Capers will face all season — and all the skill-position players at his disposal. Green highlighted Dayton Calder, Brett Coburn, Sawyer Hathaway, Maddox Demers, Nick Morin and Will Keach, as well as standout lineman/linebacker Beau Mayo.


“They are very dynamic. They spread the ball out to their many targets. They are multiple in their formations, motions and trades. They do not turn the ball over,” Green said. “Coach (Dave Bochtler) is the best offensive line coach in the state, and his guys upfront are always technically sound and violent.”

Leavitt’s Brett Coburn, right, is tackled by Lewiston’s Farid Muhammed-Aceto during a football game in Turner on Sept. 17 while Maddox Demers (34) tries to block up ahead. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

To counter the Hornets’ high-octane, high-scoring attack, Green said the Capers’ defense will need to continue to run to the ball and play physical.

Hathaway said he wants the Leavitt offense to show balance, which will help keep the Capers honest and protect Carpenter in the pocket.

The winner of Friday’s matchup should have the inside track to the top spot in Class C south for the playoffs. The Hornets are the lone undefeated team remaining, but the Capers are one of three teams — along with Cheverus and York — that are right behind with 4-1 records.

The Week 6 showdown might also be a preview of another postseason matchup in a month’s time.

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