The opening weekend of the 2012 high school football season produced mixed results in Forecaster Country.
The most seismic score came from Wales, where two-time defending Class C state champion Yarmouth saw its 24-game win streak snapped, 33-7, by the Raiders.
Oak Hill returned the opening kickoff 79-yards to paydirt to make a statement. After a Clippers’ fumble, the Raiders scored again on a short run to take a 14-0 lead just four minutes in.
“That’s the first kickoff returned against us in three years,” said Yarmouth coach Chris Pingitore, who was also making his head coaching debut. “Those hurt. And then the fumble down deep hurt and that really changes the momentum of the game.”
An 80-yard TD scamper from junior Matt Klepinger appeared to get the Clippers back in the game, but instead, it was their high water mark.
The Raiders took a 21-7 lead at halftime and scored twice more in the fourth period to account for the final score. Oak Hill rushed for nearly 300 yards as Yarmouth lost for the first time since Nov. 14, 2009 (41-7 at Dirigo in the Western Class C Final).
“We’ve got a bunch of kids who haven’t lost since the sixth grade, so having their backs against the wall is something a little bit different for them,” Pingitore said. “They responded at times. We’ve got a young team. They’re still learning out there. I think defensively, we made Oak Hill work. Offensively, they certainly made us work.”
Yarmouth looks to get in the win column Friday night when it welcomes up-and-coming Poland (a 27-26 overtime loser at Winlsow in its opener). The teams didn’t play last year. That game broadcast can be heard at mbr.org/mbrradio/.
Elsewhere in Western Class C, Freeport, which made the playoffs for the first time in 2011, played a marathon game before outlasting host Boothbay, 18-14, in its opener.
The start of the contest was delayed 45 minutes by lightning and in the first quarter, the game was delayed again 45 minutes by more lightning.
Once it resumed, the Seahawks took a 6-0 lead, but the Falcons rallied to tie on a 2-yard TD run by senior Dan Burke. Freeport went up 12-6 on senior James Purdy’s 30-yard TD scamper, but on the final play of the first half, Boothbay scored and added a two-point conversion to lead, 14-12, at the break.
The Seahawks appeared primed to salt away the win in the fourth quarter when they returned a fumble to the Falcons’ 1 (senior Jared Polley ran down the ball carrier to save the score in what proved to be the pivotal moment of the contest), but on the next play, Freeport blitzed, caused a fumble and junior Joe Nixon picked it up and returned it 98-yards for the winning score as the Falcons started 1-0 for the second year in a row.
“It was an ugly game,” said Freeport coach Rob Grover. “It ended at 11:05 p.m. There were a lot of turnovers. They had seven turnovers and we only caused one, but we recovered six. We got the win. It’s always though there with the dirt infield. It’s like soup when it gets wet.”
The Falcons look to start 2-0 Saturday afternoon in their home opener, versus 0-1 Sacopee (a 46-6 loser to Winthrop in its opener). Last year, Freeport beat the visiting Hawks, 47-18.
“Their numbers are still low and they run the same stuff, but they have to be getting better,” said Grover. “We’ll be excited to be home.”
In Western B, Greely opened with an emphatic 33-7 win at Spruce Mountain, avenging a heartbreaking opening loss from a year ago.
The Rangers got an early break when senior Nick Maynard pounced on a muffed punt in the end zone for a quick 7-0 lead. After the Phoenix tied the score, senior Svenn Jacobson ran back a fumble 19 yards for a score to put Greely ahead to stay. A 1-yard TD run from senior Drew Hodge, a 12-yard Hodge-to-Maynard TD pass and Alex Moore’s blocked punt return for a score produced the final margin.
Spruce Mountain put the ball on the ground 13 times, losing six fumbles. Greely was held to 167 total yards and under 2.5 yards per rush.
“They had us going the first couple series, but that’s what our offense does is we just keep on pounding,” Rangers coach Dave Higgins said. “It was a great game last year. They won by two points, but what we took from it is we came back and scored at the end. That’s what you want.”
Greely will go for a 2-0 start in its home opener Friday versus 0-1 Lake Region (which fell, 40-29, to Fryeburg in its first game). Last year, the Rangers outslugged the host Lakers, 58-28.
Falmouth wasn’t as fortunate in its first bid. The Yachtsmen went to improved Gray-New Gloucester and discovered just how improved the Patriots have become.
Falmouth went up, 7-0, early on a TD pass to sophomore Jack Simonds, but Gray-New Gloucester answered with 22 straight points and even a fourth period Yachtsmen TD wasn’t enough as Falmouth fell to 0-1 with a 22-14 loss.
“We kept killing our drives with turnovers,” said Yachtsmen coach John Fitzsimmons. “We had seven. It was a tough early lesson for a young team about playing every minute of every game.
The Yachtsmen look to even their record when they play their home opener Friday versus 0-1 Spruce Mountain. Last year, Falmouth handled the host Phoenix, 33-7.
“The great thing about high school sports is moving on to your next opponent,” said Fitzsimmons. “After watching the Greely-Spruce Mountain game film we are in for a challenging night. It is our home opener and I fully expect our players will be ready to response to the challenge.”
Sun Journal staff writers Kalle Oakes and Randy Whitehouse contributed to this story.
Yarmouth quarterback Brady Neujahr is stopped by Oak Hill’s Kyle Flaherty during Saturday’s season opener. The Clippers’ 24-game win streak came to an end with a 33-7 loss to the Raiders.