Game of the Week: Leavitt and Cape Elizabeth duel again for C South crown

Nov. 10—Throw out the history books when Leavitt and Cape Elizabeth meet on the gridiron, as they will Saturday night with the Class C South title on the line.

Sure, the Hornets and Capers have played some classic contests in their three matchups over the past two seasons — including last year's C South final in Turner that Cape Elizabeth won 25-23 in dramatic fashion. However, neither team's head coach is focused much on what has happened in the past.

"It's a new year with new circumstances, new personnel and new strategies. Both of us are very different teams from last year," Capers coach Sean Green said. "In my opinion, it's a waste of time to look back on last season. Each team has returners that were on the field that day, and obviously coaches that coached in the game. Ultimately, it's a new season and all that matters to both teams is the matchup in front of us."

Third-seeded Cape Elizabeth (8-2) won a nail-biter on the road against No. 2 Wells in last weekend's regional semifinals then quickly turned its attention to No. 1 Leavitt (9-0), a 64-28 winner over No. 5 Cheverus in the other semifinal.

"Our team has dealt with adversity, as has Leavitt. I am proud of our resiliency overall," Green said, "But we are not looking back to last week. Our focus is on Leavitt."

It should be easy for the Capers to keep their focus on the Hornets, who have been the class of C South all season long.

Leavitt, meanwhile, let the disappointment of losing last year's regional final last only through the end of the preseason.

"This is a different team, but I'm sure it's there in the mind of some of these guys who were on the field last year. I'd be lying otherwise," Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said. "Heck, we made them wear maroon (Cape Elizabeth's school color) mouthpieces all summer and preseason, but I think we are way more about this year, and this journey, and finishing the job than thinking about redemption for last year."

If the Hornets needed any reason to focus on 2022 instead of 2021, it was provided by a sweat-inducing 21-20 victory over the Capers in the regular season on Oct. 7.

"We have gotten a little healthier since then and have spent a lot of practice time to work on some techniques and schemes that can help us play better this time around," Hathaway said.

The Capers haven't lost since, and their only other defeat this season was against the same Wells team they beat last week.

"The regular season game (against Leavitt) was exactly what we thought it was going to be: a battle that would come down to the wire," Green said. "Since then, we have continued to come together and play sound and complementary football in all three phases of the game."

Green added that the Capers must finish and capitalize better on their opportunities — something they didn't do on late possessions with a chance to win the regular-season meeting.

Hathaway, meanwhile, is looking for the Hornets to execute better and clean up mistakes that they made in last month's matchup. Those improvements will be important because the two teams are so familiar with each other and so evenly matched that the difference might be in the details.

"I'm sure they will have a few tweaks, but they have an idea of how they like to play us and they have played us closer than anyone," Hathaway said.

Besides the one-point win over Cape Elizabeth, the Hornets' next-closest game was a 34-20 win over Class B Lawrence a week earlier. Since last facing the Capers, Leavitt has outscored its three opponents 149-47.

That stretch includes a first-round bye two weeks ago.

"We got healthier and spent the whole week prepping techniques and schemes to use against Cape," Hathaway said.

That same weekend, the Capers were forced to push their regional quarterfinal against Fryeburg Academy to Monday because of illness that ravaged the Cape Elizabeth High School and the team's roster. Any effect it had didn't seem to extend to the football field, as the Capers beat the Raiders 46-8.

Hathaway expects Cape to be at or near full-strength for Saturday's matchup, which will be played on the turf at Lewiston High School — and that his team will be, too.

Which should make for a playoff game worthy of the history books.

"Getting to a regional final is an exceptionally hard thing to do, and these are the types of games really competitive kids and coaches relish playing in," Hathaway said. "We have been fortunate enough to get to a few of them, and we have had some great players and coaches in our program who have been dedicated to that pursuit."