The Leavitt football team didn’t just have a road ahead of it when it began its season hoping to repeat as Class C state champions. The Hornets made themselves a mountain of a schedule to climb, complete with three matchups against Class A programs and a date with one of Class B’s top teams.

The trek wasn’t easy, but Leavitt made it through unscathed (10-0) and again finds itself in the Class C state final. Here’s a look back at how the Hornets got here:


Week 1: Leavitt 45, Fryeburg 8

The 2023 Hornets sure looked a lot like the 2022 version in their season opener. Reigning Maine Gatorade Player of the Year Noah Carpenter scored Leavitt’s first points of the season with a run on a quarterback keeper. He later added a field goal (not to mention four extra points) and a touchdown pass to Will Keach — all in the first half. Keach added two touchdown runs in a sign of his expanded role this season. The Leavitt defense allowed just one touchdown, through the air in the third quarter.



Week 2: Leavitt 45, Cape Elizabeth 7

A year ago, this was C South’s best rivalry, even if the Hornets rolled past the Capers in the regional final. This season, Cape Elizabeth came back down to earth after losing one of their top players (Nick Laughlin, now at University of Maine) and their head coach (Sean Green, now coaching Portland to the Class A state final). This Week 2 matchup was the second in a season-opening four-game losing streak for the Capers, with none of the games close. Leavitt took early control of the game with three first-quarter touchdown passes by Carpenter, who finished the contest 9 for 9 for 208 yards. He also added a touchdown run as part of six carries for 78 yards. Aiden Turcotte, Keach and Maddox Demers all caught TD passes, and Keach and Demers also ran for scores.


Week 3: Leavitt 63, York 13

For the first time this season, the Leavitt defense gave up more than one touchdown. To counter that, the Hornets offense scored three more than each of the previous two weeks. Ben Brown scored both of the Wildcats’ touchdowns, one on a catch and the other on a fumble return. Both came in the second quarter — the first time an opponent scored first-half points against the Hornets.

Leavitt still led 21-13 at that point, with Carpenter running for one touchdown and Demers scampering for two in the first quarter. The Hornets responded to York’s rally attempt with two Carpenter TD runs, another by Demers and a Carpenter touchdown pass to Turcotte in the second quarter. The defense did its part, with Mason Twitchell picking off a pass and Jace Negley racking up three sacks.



Week 4: Leavitt 21, Oxford Hills 14

The first of the aforementioned up-in-class matchups, and arguably the most anticipated game of the year.

It didn’t disappoint.

The Class C Hornets showed they belonged by scoring the game’s first two touchdowns, including a long Carpenter keeper three plays into the game. After Landon Daigle intercepted a pass in the end zone on Oxford Hills’ opening drive, Keach capped the Hornets’ second drive with a touchdown run.

Leavitt looked like it might concede momentum going into halftime, giving up a touchdown pass to the Vikings in the final minute of the second quarter, but Carpenter connected with Turcotte on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 8.3 seconds left, two plays after Keach’s 40-yard kickoff return gave the Hornets favorable field position.


The Vikings drew within one score on their opening drive of the second half, but the Hornets shut them out the rest of the way, including Carpenter knocking down a fourth-down pass with less than two minutes to play.


Week 5: Leavitt 62, Lawrence 32

Any time there’s a hyped-up game, there’s the inevitable murmur about a “trap” game to follow. The Hornets’ follow-up to the Oxford Hills game, however, was a road game at Class B contender Lawrence. Maybe the trap was the Bulldogs putting up more points than anybody had on the Hornets, but the Leavitt offense was its typical dynamic self. Carpenter was in on five touchdowns (two passing, three rushing), with Keach flashing his receiving skills (over 100 yards and TD catch) and Colten Taylor needing only three carries to go over the century mark to go along with a score on the ground.

Lawrence got within 28-18 before Leavitt pulled away to a 56-18 lead to bring out a running clock.



Week 6: Leavitt 51, Lewiston 13

The Hornets’ second game against the Blue Devils in as many seasons was all Leavitt in the first half. Carpenter factored into six of the seven first-half scores (four TD passes, two scoring runs) as the Hornets jumped ahead 51-0. Turcotte, Mason Henderson, Keach and Keegan Reny all caught touchdown passes, and Keach collected the other score on a 75-yard punt return.


Week 7: Leavitt 35, Thornton Academy 21

Leavitt bookended its four-game gauntlet against Class A and B teams with possibly their most tense of the four — at least for three quarters.

For the first time all season, the Hornets trailed. And it wasn’t for one drive, one quarter or one half. Leavitt went into halftime in Saco down 15 points, but the visitors turned it on in the second half. Carpenter, unsurprisingly, got the rally started with a long touchdown run on the third play of the third quarter. Another Carpenter scoring scamper and a Taylor TD run quickly flipped the score in favor of Leavitt, and the Hornets held on the rest of the way.


Carpenter racked up four touchdown runs, as well as a touchdown-saving tackle in the second half. Negley and Keach played key supporting roles again, the former recovering a fumble and the latter scooting for a long punt return.


Week 8: Leavitt 34, Cheverus 14

The Hornets returned to Class C competition to end the regular season, and they got back to their seemingly normal fast starts. Carpenter ran for three touchdowns in the first quarter to put Leavitt up 20-0, and he added another long TD run in the third quarter as well touchdown pass to Keach.

The win over a Stags team, whose only losses were to Leavitt and Fryeburg, capped a fourth straight undefeated regular season (2019, ’21-23) for the Hornets, who outscored their opponents 356-122.



Class C South semifinals
No. 1 Leavitt 59, No. 4 Cape Elizabeth 26

Leavitt started its postseason run with another dominant win over the Capers, but this time it Carpenter wasn’t the catalyst early in the game. Keach scored twice and Demers also ran in a touchdown to put the Hornets up 21-7 after one quarter. Carpenter, via his arm, came alive in the second quarter, tossing four touchdown passes (to Reny, Keach, Henderson and Turcotte, respectively), and Taylor ran in a touchdown to stretch the advantage to 59-7 at halftime.

The win sent the Hornets to their fifth-consecutive Class C South final.


Class C South final
No. 1 Leavitt 36, No. 2 Fryeburg 32

The rematch of the season opener was anything but a repeat.


The Raiders, who hadn’t lost since that Week 1 meeting, showed off how much better they had become over the course of the season, and it was their passing attack, led by quarterback Cohen Carter and starring Logan Walton, that looked like the dominant aerial offense.

Carter threw five touchdown passes, four to Walton, as upset-minded-but-don’t-call-them-underdogs Fryeburg took leads of 6-0 in the first quarter, 20-7 in the second, 26-21 at halftime and 32-21 into the fourth.

The Leavitt defense finally slowed down Walton in the fourth quarter, and Negley, held in check for much of the game, started batting down passes at opportune times for the Hornets.

Carpenter factored into all five touchdowns, running for the first one and tossing the next two to Reny when Leavitt made its first rally in the first half. The senior quarterback used his legs on his last two scores, which both came in the fourth quarter to put the Hornets ahead at the end.

His last big play was on defense, when he intercepted a pass in the end zone on the final play of the game, stamping Leavitt’s return trip to the Class C state final.

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