BIDDEFORD—Jack was nimble. Jack sure was quick.
And when his football team needed him most, Scarborough senior quarterback Jack Adams was something else.
In a scoreless tie on the road Friday night with time ticking down toward the half, senior Zach Bean, the Red Storm’s top player, was hit from behind as he threw and would not return at “quartercat” or otherwise the rest of the night.
This was not good for Scarborough. Bean had begun to emerge as the featured back in the “ildcat” offense that always-inventive coach Lance Johnson brought over this year after introducing it with great success to Western Class A football during his final two seasons running the offense for Mike Bailey at Portland.
With Bean out, leaving a good chunk missing in Scarborough’s offensive sets, he had carried 44 times for 243 yards and a pair of scores the week before in a win over Sanford, Adams took over full-time again at quarterback and put together a career performance for the ages and most importantly, for this year’s hope-filled Red Storm footballers.
In dramatic fashion, Adams threw for 318 yards and three second-half touchdowns to rally the Red Storm from a 7-0 deficit at the break to a thrilling 21-9 victory over the previously unbeaten Biddeford Tigers in the fog and mist at historic Waterhouse Field.
Adams was at his best in the fourth quarter when he hit for a pair of long touchdowns through the air that totalled 159 yards and put the game out of reach as Scarborough improved to 3-1 in Johnson’s first season. The Red Storm also jumped up to third in the midseason Crabtree Standings behind only Bonny Eagle and Thornton Academy, both at 4-0.
“There is no one person or individual for this team,” said Bean, resting on crutches but in good spirits. “We’re all just part of one great group. Jack’s unbelievable. He’s been a leader for this team for a long time. You saw that tonight. That’s what’s so different for us this year. We’re all very positive and focused on having a great season. We come to practice and work hard every day and try to get better as a team. We’re looking at every game like it’s the biggest one of our lives.”
After falling behing 7-0 just before the first half ended, Scarborough tied the game 7-7 with 7:14 left in the third on Adams’ best throw of the night. His first touchdown pass to senior Joe Viola was a well-placed, 20-yard laser down the seams to the back of the end zone. His next two throws helped Scarborough break the game open, like his 84-yard touchdown pass to senior Kyle Kelley and then more. Adams wrapped things up late in the fourth quarter, finding Viola again on the loose slanting behind the secondary and put over a perfect strike for a 75-yard touchdown that had the Red Storm in charge for good at 21-7 with 3:46 left to hang on to a monster win for a program that needed one.
“We knew that when Bean went down coach was going to want to open things more,” said Adams. “It’s a great advantage for me to have the size and speed we have at receiver this year. I feel confident throwing it up there for all of them. That’s what happened a lot tonight. This is a huge win for us and to get it down here in Biddeford is even nicer. Hopefully we can ride this deep into the playoffs.”
Biddeford would get on the scoreboard one more time late in the game with a safety after giving an interesting game of chase with Adams in the end zone. Backed up on their own 5-yard line with 40 seconds left in the game, Adams took the snap on fourth down and was prepared to take the safety, but just not right away. It took Biddeford over 13 maddening seconds to finally wrestle him down with 27 seconds left for the 21-9 final score.
“We’re lucky to have so many athletes at the skill positions,” said Johnson. “We can beat you throwing the ball. We can beat you running the ball. We’re just lucky. It wasn’t looking good for us. We were already missing two starting linebackers and then Zach goes down and he’s a huge part of our offense and our defense. But we stuck together and things started to change there in the third. We spread it out and let Jack throw the ball. He did a great job for us. It’s fun. I walked into a situation and found a bunch of guys that love playing football.”
Biddeford had a great season last year and returned with high hopes for 2010. The Tigers quarterback, senior captain Tyler Audie, is a complete football player. And fellow senior captain Nick Gagne is that traditional battering ram of a fullback the Tigers seem to have waiting in the wings each season. They also return one of their top playmakers from last year, junior Tyler Vigue, and up until the Red Storm’s visit on Friday night the Tigers had been having a relatively easy time of it at 3-0.
At home against Scarborough, Audie had played centerfield from his safety position and made a diving interception on a ball Bean overthrew to the sideline to give the Tigers a short-field late in the second quarter. It took Gagne four runs to eat up the 30 yards and score for a 7-0 Biddeford lead at the half.
But it would be all Scarborough after that as a determined, talented team fueled with the energy of a new coach and staff just might be on to something this season. The Red Storm feel Bean has a sprained right knee and will return, but in the meantime Adams made good use of a tall, fast group of receivers and showed no fear attacking down field. Kelley, at 6-foot-2, ran a simple 10-yard out to the sideline on his touchdown, but when he went up to pull in the high throw, the Biddeford cornerback slipped and fell and then had no choice but to watch Kelley sprint out of sight for 84-yards and the lead, 14-7 after Scarborough senior Nate Provencher’s point-after kick split the uprights with eleven minutes left in the game.
The Red Storm’s tallest receiver, senior captain Mike Cyr, at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, is also a handful for opposing defenses since he runs on top of it all. Viola rounds out this trio right in between at 6-foot-3 and in Johnson they have a coach that will find ways to get them all enough touches. After Bean, Adams and all the receivers, Johnson still has a pair of top-flight tailbacks and senior captains in Dennis Liu and Scott Merrill in the stable to change speeds and keeps defenses on their heels.
Scarborough hosts Gorham Friday night in its crossover, then welcomes Noble before closing out the season with a pair of road games at Marshwood and at Kennebunk.
All things considered, the Red Storm have a reasonably light schedule the rest of the way. This only magnifies the big win over the Tigers and the Red Storm should be right in the thick of things come late October and November.
S- 0 0 7 14- 21
B- 0 7 0 2- 9
B- Gagne 3 run (Morrison kick)
S- Viola 20 pass from Adams (Provencher kick)
S- Kelley 84 pass from Adams (Provencher kick)
S- Viola 75 pass from Adams (Provencher kick)
B- Safety, Adams tackled in end zone