November 14, 2012

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Trio makes Raiders go

By Travis Lazarczyk tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WINSLOW -- Joe Hopkins and Dylan Hapworth provide the speed. Zach Guptill provides the muscle. Hopkins describes their roles in the Winslow High School running attack a little more colorfully.

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Photo Jeff Pouland LOOKING FOR RUNNING ROOM: Winslow High School's Joseph Hopkins looks upfield for extra yardage after eluding several Dirigo High School defenders during the first half of the Black Raiders' 17-6 victory over the Cougars in the Western Maine Class C final on Saturday.

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Photo by Jeff Pouland SCORING A REACTION: Winslow High School's Zachary Guptill, center, is congratulated by teammates Ricky Crayton, right, and Dylan Hapwort (3) after scoring a second-half touchdown during the Black Raiders' 17-6 win over Dirigo High School in the Western Maine Class C final on Saturday in Winslow.

"Zach is just a tank," Hopkins said. "Dylan and I have to be more crafty."

It's opposing defenses that have had to be crafty this season, trying to stop Winslow's three-headed running monster. Throughout the season, Hopkins, Guptill and Hapworth have been the keys to the Winslow offense. Combined the trio have 3,023 yards and 41 touchdowns on 476 carries.

The Black Raiders will take on Foxcroft Academy in the Class C state championship game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Portland's Fitzpatrick Stadium.

"We've run the ball well. The line's been able to get them into the second level quite a few times," Winslow head coach Mike Siviski said. "I don't think it's any secret we can run the ball."

Added Hopkins: "Obviously, we can't do anything without the holes we get."

The running game came into its own in the Black Raiders' 40-14 win at Maranacook on Oct. 5, the players said. In that game, Winslow dominated the previously undefeated Black Bears. The trio combined for 392 yards and six touchdowns, and the win set the tone for the second half of the season.

"That's when we proved we're for real," Guptill said.

Hopkins, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound senior, leads the Black Raiders with 1,294 yards. Eight times this season, Hopkins has run for at least 125 yards in a game.

"I try not to look at that stuff," Hopkins said.

At 6-foot, 230 pounds, Guptill's job is to get the tough yards between the tackles and he does it well. The junior has 873 yards and a team-high 19 touchdowns, including a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter of last week's 17-6 win over Dirigo in the Class C West championship game. The touchdown was Winslow's only offensive touchdown of the game.

A running back since youth football, Guptill said he can't recall the first time he ran a would-be tackler over, but he remembered the feeling and smiled.

"It was fun," he said.

Guptill's ability to plow up the middle for yards opens up the option, and plays to Hopkins and Hapworth. On Saturday, facing third down and 5 in the first quarter against Dirigo, quarterback Bobby Chenard faked a handoff to Guptill, sucking the Cougar defenders to the middle. The ball went to Hopkins, who gained 7 yards and a first down.

"Guptill sets up a lot of things for us," Siviski said.

Hapworth also serves as Winslow's kicker and punter. On Sunday, hours after the Black Raiders win, Hapworth was at Gillette Stadium to compete in the New England Punt, Pass and Kick championship. He won the 15-year old division.

"I was sore. Real sore," Hapworth, who also won the competition when he was 12, said.

A 5-9, 170-pound sophomore, Hapworth has 856 yards rushing and eight touchdown runs. Also Winslow's top receiver, Hapworth has 19 catches for 312 yards and five touchdowns. Hapworth said he's seen most of his improvement this season as a blocker. As a wing back, blocking is his primary job on most plays.

"This year I learned how to block. I was never a wingback," Hapworth said.

Added Siviski: "He's improved and it's a work in progress."

Winslow has had a lot of talented running backs over the years. This trio is glad to carry on the tradition.

"We have really big shoes to fill," Guptill said.

Travis Lazarczyk -- 861-9242

tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com

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