Mistakes prove costly for Dirigo at regionals
WINSLOW -- This time, when Dirigo buckled up it, they encountered a different type of opponent and some mistakes proved costly last Saturday afternoon in the Class C Regional Championship football game.
Thomas Barnett spearheaded the Cougars defense that took care of business. However, Justin Martin intercepted two passes as Winslow pulled away for a 17-6 win at sunny Poulin Field.
No. 3 Dirigo trailed 17-0 following Martin's 75-yard return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, before the Dirigo offense was able to score on a Brett Whittemore one-yard TD pass to Barnett. The Cougars had received a spark following a long kickoff return by Nick Young. A pair of runs by Spencer Trenoweth (128 yards, 15 carries) put the ball on the one-yard line. After Whittemore was stopped on a sneak, the signal caller rolled right on a boot leg and found Barnett near the corner of the end zone. The point after attempt by Nelson Pepin sailed wide left.
"Winslow was a different team today," said Barnett, referring to the Cougars' ability to stay in control in rallying for a 32-21 win against Winslow in September. "They were big and hit hard, but in the end our own mistakes cost us."
Dirigo attempted an onside kick with 6:55 remaining, but Winslow recovered. The Cougars defense forced a punt, however, Dirigo's passes fell incomplete.
“We had to gamble today,” said Dirigo coach Dave Crutchfield, whose team committed four turnovers. "Our passes and receivers weren't able to connect and they was able to capitalize. But our defense didn't actually allow any points. Winslow scored off a field goal and those two long returns on interceptions.”
The Dirigo 44 defense included tackles Cliff Boynton and Zach White, ends Kaine Hutchins and Pepin, and linebackers Barnett, Tyler Frost, Austin Bernard and Trenoweth.
Winslow, who will play in the state championship game this Saturday, had led on a Dylan Hapworth 26-yard field goal with 2:34 remaining in the first half.
"We keep telling the kids we are in the game and we were," said Crutchfield, referring to the 3-0 deficit at halftime. "We convinced kids we were still in it, even after a mistake, but those two picks really took the wind out of this team."
In the fourth quarter, Dirigo started on its own 17 and received a break when Winslow was whistled for pass interference, but on the next play Dirigo drew a penalty. Whittemore threw a ball toward the sideline, but the receiver cut in and the 6-foot-5 Martin leaped and returned it to the six. The Black Riders scored on the next play to lead 10-0.
On the ensuing possession, Dirigo picked up a first down behind guards Jack Brown and Bernard, tackles Boynton and White and center Joey Hebert. But the Cougars returned to airways and a high-arching pass allowed Martin to step in front of Young and down an open field.
Dirigo back Spencer Trenoweth carried the ball for 128 yards on 15 carries in a productive afternoon against Winslow. (Photo courtesy of Art Chamberlin)