DOVER-FOXCROFT – One of the secrets to the success of the Foxcroft Academy football program isn’t the guys who make the big plays during a given game.
It’s the younger guys who are sprinkled into the mix during that same game to get a taste of the varsity experience and to prepare for the days when they’ll be making the big plays.
That constant effort to develop depth has helped Foxcroft win five Eastern Maine Class C titles in the last six years, and will be on display again Saturday when coach Paul Withee’s undefeated Ponies (11-0) square off against 10-1 Boothbay in the state championship game at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Game time is 2:30 p.m.
“Coach Withee does a good job of rotating the younger players and working them into the program so we always have a good senior team,” said senior end Jon Geiger, “and we don’t get devastated when we lose a whole bunch of seniors.”
Foxcroft returned a strong contingent of seniors this year in search of its third straight regional title, and with that experience came the optimism of a program used to winning.
“My expectations were to make it to states,” said senior running back Shane Adkins. “I believed we had a better team this year just because of the team chemistry of the seniors, because we have been playing together since fifth grade.”
The Ponies also were adding some talented younger players to the mix, such as sophomore Ian Champeon and junior Wade Witham.
“I knew we had a good corps of kids that had worked very hard,” said Withee, “and we also had some incoming kids that I knew were going to play a more significant role.”
But the Ponies had graduated several starters from their offensive line, leaving some rebuilding to complete – and some depth to call upon.
“It was a question to be answered, to be sure,” said Withee, “but I felt very confident knowing the people who were going to step in.”
And in veterans Adam LePrevost and Robert Segerson and first-year starters Josh Boone, Andrew Larson and Dan Moriarty, what began as a question became a strength, helping a deep – surprise! – stable of Pony running backs average 8.4 yards per rushing attempt during the regular season.
“We had a lot of new guys, but they stepped up and did an awesome job, said LePrevost. “It took a couple of games, but then we worked as a unified line.”
The early part of Foxcroft’s schedule proved to reinforce the inner belief that this could be another championship season, as it included the Ponies’ two top rivals in John Bapst of Bangor and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln.
But once Foxcroft edged John Bapst 13-12 in Week 1 and Mattanawcook 16-6 in Week 3, the Ponies were on course for a second straight undefeated regular season.
“At the beginning of the season I knew we’d have a strong team but there were questions with the line,” said senior fullback Ben Provost. “I knew we had a strong backfield, a good receiving corps and good defense, but it’s the line that gets the offense going.”
Foxcroft went unchallenged later in the regular season, so the Ponies concentrated on refining their own play in anticipation of the postseason ahead.
“I think we always focused on the team we were playing that week,” said Adkins, “but everybody was still thinking about the playoffs so they were all working harder each week to push themselves to be better for the end of the season.”
Now, after two playoff wins, highlighted by a 14-7 survival of John Bapst in the LTC final, the Ponies are back in familiar territory – bound for Portland.
“We’ve done so well as a team,” said senior running back Jerod Rideout, “and growing up together there’s such great chemistry that I didn’t have a doubt that we’d make it through Eastern Maines.”