ELLSWORTH — As the hours of sunlight have dwindled, so too has the number of events on the fall sports schedule. Following two championship events over the weekend, that number has now been reduced to zero.
The Hancock County fall sports season concluded Saturday afternoon with the New England cross-country championships in Manchester, N.H., and the Class D North championship football game in Hampden. Two local teams’ participation in those events marked the end of what’s been a solid start 2018-19 across the board for local schools.
“It’s just so hard to believe the whole season already come and gone so fast,” said Louie Luchini, head coach of the Ellsworth cross-country team. “If you’re still competing in November, that’s a sign that you’re having a great year.”
At Ellsworth High School, Luchini’s girls’ squad received a warm sendoff as it traveled south to compete in New Englands. The scene was a festive one as the Eagles, who had won county, regional and state titles as well as the Class B Good Sportsmanship Award, were given a warm reception ahead of their journey.
Caitlin MacPherson placed 123rd for Ellsworth to finish in the top half of the 261-runner field. The Eagles were one of the smallest schools competing in a loaded competition that included teams of all sizes from every New England state except Massachusetts.
“It was a great experience for the girls to go up against those elite runners from bigger schools,” Luchini said. “Even in states, you’re competing mostly against the same schools you have all season. It was nice to mix it up a little bit against strong competition.”
Just as has been the case for Ellsworth’s previous meets during championship season, the conditions at Manchester’s Derryfield Park were muddy and tough for runners. Yet the state of the course and dull weather didn’t hinder the Eagles, for whom every runner finished the race.
“This was mostly a great reward for what’s been an awesome season this year,” Luchini said. “We were solely focused on winning states, and it was actually kind of funny because some of them didn’t even know there was a meet after states. It was fun to go down there and experience that.”
Just a few hours later, the Bucksport football team took to the turf at Hampden Academy for its much-awaited Class D North championship game showdown with top-seeded Foxcroft. The game was a chance for the Golden Bucks to avenge their only loss of the season, a 21-20 home defeat against the Ponies on Sept. 22.
Unfortunately for second-ranked Bucksport, Foxcroft (10-0) continued its recent dominance of Class D North by posting a 43-26 victory. The Ponies rushed for nearly 400 yards in the win.
Senior Carter Tolmasoff led Bucksport (8-2) on offense with 122 rushing yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Brady Findlay provided two touchdown passes — both to Tyson Gray — and Luke Wardwell added a 41-yard rushing score.
Foxcroft advanced to the state championship with the win. The Ponies will face off against Southern Maine No. 1 seed Wells (11-0), which has won back-to-back Gold Balls and a state-best 27 straight games, at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at the University of Maine’s Alfond Stadium. Wells defeated Foxcroft 45-0 in last year’s Class D title game.
The fall season closes for all teams with the remaining state championship games next Saturday, Nov. 17, at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium. Top seeds Portland (9-1) and Thornton Academy (10-0) will face off in Class A at 11 a.m., after which Nokomis (7-4) and Fryeburg (10-1) will clash in Class C at 2:30 p.m. Brunswick (8-3) and Marshwood (10-1) will play for the Class B crown at 6:30.
In a change from past years, the state title games will not be televised on WABI.
Update: The Class D championship game between Foxcroft and Wells has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17.