University of Maine Boys’ Team of the Year: Cape Elizabeth Football

The Cape Elizabeth soccer team celebrates after their 53-8 win over Winslow in the Class C State Championship game at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium November 20. Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald

The Cape Elizabeth football team hoisted the Golden Ball on Nov. 20 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

But it was the previous week that the Capers showed they had the ingredients to become champions.

A champion for the first time.

And our men’s team of the year.

Behind perennial powerhouse Leavitt from four points in the fourth quarter of the Class C South final, visiting Cape Elizabeth needed a touchdown to advance.

And it was a touchdown the Capers got, but they needed the remaining 10 minutes and 18 plays to get the win.

Cape Elizabeth rode his horses – senior Colin Campbell (who will play lacrosse at Bowdoin next year), junior Nick Laughlin (who is receiving stares from many colleges) and senior quarterback Caden McDuffie, who took the snap of fourth and goal from Leavitt 3 on the final play of the game. Even with every Hornets defense lined up to stop him, McDuffie would not be denied, finding the end zone for a dramatic 25-23 victory .

“Since I was 5 years old, I’ve been willing to get my name called for this game,” McDuffie said. “It was nerve wracking, but I did it.”

Cape Elizabeth, which averaged more than 51 points per game in six regular season wins and then easily rolled over Westbrook (56-0) and Fryeburg Academy (33-6) in its first two playoff games, had finally gotten a stern test and found a way to beat a Leavitt side that handed the Capers their only loss earlier in the season.

“I don’t know how many games I can coach like this,” Cape Elizabeth coach Sean Green said. “It was a lot of fun. Amazing times. We had flawless execution from the offensive line on that last drive.

The state game against Winslow was never in doubt as the Capers led 39-0 at halftime and took a 53-8 win. McDuffie cemented his place in program lore with more than 300 combined rushing and passing yards, five touchdown passes and two touchdown points. Laughlin had six catches in 171 years, including three of his receptions for scores.

“It means everything,” Green said. “It’s amazing. We spoke in February 2019 for the first time as a team when my staff and I took over here. We talked about this moment here, the delivery of a Ballon d’Or to Cape Elizabeth. Not many people believed in us, but we knew this group was special and they delivered.

The victory didn’t stop that night, as in March McDuffie received the Fitzpatrick Trophy as Maine’s top senior player. In June, McDuffie (who will play next year at Louisiana Christian University), Campbell, Laughlin and several other football players helped the Cape Elizabeth men’s lacrosse team win another championship.

The Capers may see more championship football, possibly as early as next November, but the first state title in program history and how it was won will never be forgotten.

“The season has been unreal for all of us,” McDuffie said. “We just prepared and executed everything our coaching staff told us to do.”

“When your best players are also the best human beings, you have something special,” added Green.

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