High school football in Maine marks changes unlike any other season in Maine. Sitting at Doyle Field in Brewer on a balmy late summer Friday night, thoughts turned to twelve weeks from now. My game day attire will likely be significantly different. Gone will be the t-shirt and shorts. As summer fades and a cool, crispness envelops the air, pants and a lightweight jacket become the norm. The layers and warmth of the coat increase as November dawns. The backdrop of trees turn colors then eventually go bare with the season reaching its crescendo. Then it ends, suddenly.
Maybe that’s why we cherish the precious time that is fall in Maine and the high school football season. For the eight to twelve weeks the mighty warriors take to the field of competition this is all that matter. There is no elite travel or AAU to go to once the season ends. There is no talk about which club team the elite players will participate in around the corner. In this crazy culture of year round elite this and select that football is different. There is a cruel finality that comes at the end of the season. While a few seniors will go on to play in college, most when their teams either don’t make the play-offs, lose their final game, or hoist the gold ball, will put the pads away for good come November.
Even those who are returning for the following season have to wait another nine to ten months before participating in a competitive football game. The off-season for the football player either means competing in another sport or just conditioning to get ready for the next season seemingly an eternity away. They will hit the weight room, maybe throw the football around, and work on agility drills. Yes, some will go to camps, perform in seven and seven games, and so forth. The act of actually playing the game, eleven men on each side in full pads is reserved for those eight to twelve Fridays or Saturdays in the fall.
Football also has a uniqueness to it in the way players are developed. While elite travel leagues are becoming the norm in most sports as young as age eight, football players primarily develop together. While some do go to specialized camps, most come up through the youth program together and are all getting the same experience. There is a cohesiveness that binds football players unlike most sports today.
Football games are an event like no other high school sporting activity. Games are once a week, almost a season unto themselves. The preparation that goes into each game is immense. Contests are predictably the same times every week, either on Friday night or Saturday afternoon.
Enjoy the upcoming twelve weeks which is Maine high school football. Best wishes to all the players to live out their gridiron glory as long as they can. It is a fleeting season indeed.
With the start of the regular season Friday night, here are my predictions for this year’s regional and state champions:
Class A North: Windham over Portland
Class A South: Bonny Eagle over Thornton Academy
State Champions: Bonny Eagle
Class B North: Brunswick over Brewer
Class B South: Biddeford over Marshwood
State Champions: Brunswick
Class C North: Winslow over MDI
Class C South: Wells over Cape Elizabeth
State Champions: Wells
Class D North: MCI over Mattanawcook
Class D South: Lisbon over Oak Hill
State Champions: Lisbon