Championship road in Class B football takes a detour

The road to the championship runs through Rumford.
At least that’s how it’s been in Western Maine Class  B football for the better part of seven years.
Oh, there has been the odd detour.
Through Cape Elizabeth, or York.
But never Wells.
At least not until this year.
While the Warriors have been a respectable program in recent seasons, they’ve never been able to trip up perennial power Mountain Valley, much less earn the top playoff seed themselves.
This year is different.
This year, Wells hits the playoffs, which get under way Friday night with a clash against No. 8 York (3-5), as the team to beat.
That’s what a spotless, 8-0 regular season mark will do for you.
That’s what a win over Mountain Valley in Week 6 – a rarity for any opponent – will earn you.
And yet, say the Warriors, being No. 1 Seed is something better forgotten that dwelt on.
“Nah,” said senior running back Louis DiTomasso, when asked if the Warriors think about being the top seed. “This week’s (practice has) been brutal because last week we played like crap. This week, we came out hard, we came out focused, and we’re looking to get back at that.”
Wells coach Tim Roche, now in his 13th season, concurred.
“The only thing I tell them,” said Roche, “is that they’re 8-0 and they’re a good football
team. I don’t tell them they’re No. 1 or No. 8. I said at the beginning of the
year, and I’ll say it now. We took Chip Kelly’s mantra from Oregon, ‘Win the
day.’ If we won today’s practice, we’re better. If we win tomorrow, great, we’ll
move on. We don’t talk about anything else, we talk about winning now. If we can
do that, we’ll be fine. I really believe they have that feeling in their mind
that they’re not thinking about next week or we have to win because we’re No. 1.
There’s another opponent coming to Warrior Memorial Field, and we’ve got to be
better than them tomorrow night.”
That opponent, York, is very familiar with the Warriors, having given them a tough time in the regular season finale before eventually falling 26-21.
And the Wildcats won’t be needing any pep talks from head coach Randy Small to get their upset juices flowing, given that Wells and York have a keen rivalry.
Even so, Wells may have to commence its playoff run without senior quarterback/defensive back Paul McDonough, a likely Fitzpatrick Award candidate, who has missed the past two weeks with a suspected hairline foot fracture.
If not, young Gavin Snapp (an appropriate name for a quarterback if ever there was one) will step in for the third week in a row.
Even without the dynamic McDonough, the Warrior game plan would change only a little if at all.
“We’re not a throwing team when Paul McDonough is in the game,” said Roche. “What he does is open up the run, and he can throw, and it makes you a little nervous. But we weren’t going to throw the ball 22 times whether Paul McDonough plays or he doesn’t.”
That’s not how they roll.
At least not down this road.