(Ed. Note: For the complete Deering-South Portland game story, with a box score and additional photos, see theforecaster.net)
City football teams are a combined 10-2 on the year and all three appear playoff-bound as the second half of the regular season looms.
Saturday afternoon, Deering improved to 3-1 with an impressive 27-14 victory at South Portland.
Portland had to travel to Oxford and didn’t suffer a letdown after its big win over Windham by blanking Oxford Hills, 41-0, to improve to 4-0.
Cheverus is also 3-1 and has won two straight after Saturday’s emphatic 44-7 home victory over Edward Little.
Deering, under first-year coach Jason Jackson, opened with wins at Massabesic and Sanford, then last week, played seemingly invincible Thornton Academy tough before losing, 42-20.
In week four, the Rams went to South Portland for the schools’ first meeting since 2012. The game was supposed to be held Friday night, but South Portland was contending with power outages and the contest was moved to Saturday afternoon, where Deering went out and earned another victory.
The Rams went up-tempo in the first half and produced four scoring drives.
Just 3 minutes, 30 seconds in, quarterback Max Chabot ran for a 7-yard touchdown to get the party started. The Red Riots drew even, but Chabot struck again late in the first quarter, on another 7-yard scamper, to put Deering on top to stay. Second quarter scoring runs from Rob Dacey (6-yards) and Scott Bresette (7-yards) pushed the lead to 27-7 at halftime.
In the first 24 minutes, Deering gained 208 yards to South Portland’s 93. Mixing up the tempo proved to be just the ticket for the Rams in the first half.
“I wanted to come at South Portland that way and see how they could handle it,” Jackson said. “We know we can run it.”
In the second half, the Rams focused on running down the clock and playing defense and while they did surrender one score, they made the plays they had to on both sides of the ball to run out the clock on a 27-14 victory.
“We’ve worked hard all week and I think we made a statement in the first half,” said Dacey, who ran for 89 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. “We came out in the second half and worked hard and did the ground-and-pound and came out with the ‘W.’”
“They were 2-1 and so were we, so obviously we weren’t going to overlook them,” said Chabot, who completed 10 of 15 passes for 123 yards with an interception and ran for 38 yards and two scores on nine attempts. “Luckily, the scoreboard favored us.
“We’ll take it,” added Jackson. “We’re just trying to stay under the radar as long as we can. It’s getting harder and harder. We had a lot of doubters at the beginning, but I’m not surprised at all. They’re great kids.”
The Rams return home Friday to welcome 2-2 Bonny Eagle. The teams didn’t meet in 2014.
“We’re feeling good,” said Dacey. “We’re getting into the thick of our schedule. We’ll keep working in practice and giving it everything we’ve got.”
“We have four more tough games,” said Chabot. “Bonny Eagle’s a good team. That’s at home too, so we don’t want to disappoint the fans.”
“I think we can play with anybody, but we have some things we need to shore up,” added Jackson. “Bonny Eagle is rolling now. It’s going to be tough. That should be a good game. I’m excited. We hope to keep it going.”
Portland won at Scarborough and at home over Edward Little to start the year, then produced one of the finest defensive efforts in program history in a 10-3 home win over Windham. Saturday at Oxford Hills, the Bulldogs looked to avoid a letdown and had no trouble doing so.
Portland had the first possession of the game and marched down field for a score with 9 minutes left in the first quarter as quarterback Issiah Bachelder connected with Joe Esposito on a 36-yard pass for a 7-0 lead. After Oxford Hills punted, the Bulldogs scored again. This time, it was George Chaison-Lapine with a 42-yard run for the 14-0 lead with 6:41 left in the first quarter.
“It gets in their heads,” Esposito said. “I know if I started a game down 14-0 or anything like that, it gets in your head and you start thinking differently. If you can get in their heads like that, it really helps a lot.”
Portland made it 21-0 on a 7-yard Esposito scoring run with 8:13 left in the half.
“We’ve come up here the last two years and they played us tough on the run,” Bulldogs coach Jim Hartman said. “So I was really pleased that we could run the ball. We game-planned hard for them. We knew the holes that would be open and they were open.”
Portland finished the half with a 4-yard Chaison-Lapine TD for a 28-0 lead.
The Bulldogs finished the first half outgaining the Vikings, 221-40.
Portland added to the lead quickly in the third. Oxford Hills fumbled the kickoff. The Bulldogs recovered and turned that into a 34-0 lead with 11:07 left in the third when Bachelder hit Esposito with a 16-yard pass.
After Oxford Hills failed to move the ball on its next possession, the Bulldogs completed the scoring with 7:26 left in the third when Bachelder hit Nick Archambault on a 12-yard pass. The Vikings had a pair of longer drives in the second half. One ended on an interception by Dylan Bolduc.
“It’s kind of a trap game because we’re in between Windham and Cheverus, two archrivals for us and two emotional games,” Hartman said. “Our kids were half in the Cheverus game. No offense to Oxford Hills. That’s just the way it is. And it was a real emotional win last week against Windham. So I was really pleased that we were able to come out and hold serve.”
The Bulldogs totalled 230 yards on the ground while the Vikings managed just 38. Chaison-Lapine rushed for 155 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns. Esposito scored three TDs and ran for 60 yards on 16 tries.
“That’s our focus,” Esposito said, of the ground game. “We know we can run the ball. We want that to be our strength and the pass can come second. I thought it was a nice balance with what we can do.”
Portland looks to stay undefeated Friday when it returns home, but the Bulldogs will have to solve recent nemesis Cheverus. Last in, the Stags romped at home in the season opener, 41-3.
Cheverus was pummeled at Thornton Academy in week two, 57-0, but got back on track with a 68-16 home over Lewiston and Saturday, welcomed Edward Little.
Again, the Stags would have an easy time of it, grabbing a 30-0 lead at halftime en route to a decisive 44-7 win. Freshman Tre Fletcher had a pair of touchdown runs.
Cheverus is at Portland Friday.
Sun Journal staff writer Kevin Mills contributed to this story.
Deering quarterback Max Chabot breaks a tackle en route to a touchdown during the Rams’ 27-14 victory at South Portland Saturday.
Deering’s Rob Dacey finds some running room during the Rams’ 27-14 win at South Portland Saturday.