December 31, 2013

TOP 10 SPORTS STORIES: Cony football wins state title

Rams’ run to title No. 1 story of year

By BILL STEWART and GARY HAWKINS

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by Joe Phelan Cony Rams players and their fans celebrate with gold ball trophy after beating Kennebunk to win the state class B football championship game on Friday November 22, 2013 in Orono.

Staff Writers

 

The Cony football team just missed the chance to play for the state title in 2012, losing to Lawrence in a close Pine Tree Conference Class A championship game.

The Rams earned their redemption, and made history, in 2013.

Led by senior quarterback Ben Lucas, Cony stormed through the playoffs and finished its history-making season with a memorable 30-23 victory over Kennebunk in the Class B state championship game.

Cony’s first-ever victory in a state championship game is the Kennebec Journal’s top sports story of 2013.

“It’s been a bit overwhelming to be honest,” Cony coach Robby Vachon said. “We worked extremely hard to get to the state title. This senior class set the bar high. The summer workouts and weight training, they all paid off for them. I couldn’t be happier.

The Rams finished the regular season 7-2 and then embarked on an improbable journey through the playoffs.

After defeating Messalonskee 41-15 in the PTC B semifinals, Cony beat top-seeded Brunswick 48-38 in the conference final to earn a trip to the University of Maine and the state championship game.

“We had a great run,” Vachon said. “We had to battle to win some of these games.”

What happened then is nothing short of incredible.

Kennebunk enjoyed a 16-0 lead with just less than five minutes left in the third quarter before Lucas and Cony mounted a comeback for the ages.

The 6-foot-4 quarterback threw for 307 yards and three touchdown passes in the second half. His last TD pass came on a terrific 25-yard toss to Jonathan Saban with a minute left in the game.

Kennebunk drove to midfield in the closing seconds before Reid Shostak ended the game with an interception.

“It’s been 81 years since we last won the state championship,” Vachon said. “We had a couple teams that came close. We’re glad to get it done and validate all the hard work the kids and staff put into it.

 

2. Ben Lucas a Fitzpatrick Trophy finalist

Cony senior quarterback Ben Lucas enjoyed one of the finest seasons in Maine football history.

The 6-foot-4, 227-pound Lucas threw for 3,500 yards and a state-record 41 touchdowns this season.

His eye-popping numbers caught the attention of coaches and media members, who voted him a finalist for the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy, given annually to the top senior football player in the state. The winner will be announced Jan. 19.

Lucas finished his career with 7,700 passing yards — good for second all time in state history behind Lee St. Hilaire. Lucas also threw 89 career touchdown passes, also a state record.

“I’m sure someday I’ll look back and really savor this,” Lucas said. “It’s pretty surreal.”

Lucas saved his best performance for his last, when he threw for three touchdown passes and 347 yards in a 30-23 victory over Kennebunk in the Class B state title game.

 

3. Maranacook boys win state soccer title

The Black Bears have been one of the top teams in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference for years but never were able to crack a postseason jinx that included roadblocks from southern Maine like Falmouth and Yarmouth. This season, Maranacook dropped to Class C while ironically, Falmouth, the team that eliminated the Bears from the playoffs last season, was bumped to Class A.

Maranacook had a typically strong regular season, going unbeaten for the second year in a row, and this time the Black Bears were ready for the playoffs. They defeated two unbeaten teams in the playoffs, a tough North Yarmouth Academy squad, and defending Western Maine champion Hall-Dale, before dispatching Madawaska 2-0 in the state championship game.

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