(Ed. Note: For the complete Cheverus-Bangor game story, with additional photos and a box score, see theforecaster.net)
All three city football teams were winners last weekend, although you could argue that Deering went 2-0 and Portland 1-1 (see sidebar about the Bulldogs’ forfeiture of their earlier win over the Rams).
Friday night, Portland crushed visiting Lewiston, 55-6, while Deering went to Edward Little and earned a key 32-12 victory.
Saturday afternoon, Cheverus remained hot, following up its key double overtime win at Thornton Academy with a 28-14 triumph over dangerous Bangor.
After last year’s nightmare of a 1-7 season, Deering has more than achieved its goal of being competitive this fall. The Rams appear playoff bound.
Friday, at Edward Little, quarterback Max Chabot hit Jacob Coon with an early 37-yard touchdown pass to put Deering ahead. The Rams made it 12-0 at halftime, but the Red Eddies pulled within 12-6 and were driving to possibly take the lead when Deering cornerback Ben Williams picked off a pass and returned it for a 53-yard touchdown.
“I came up when my team needed me,” Williams said. “They were running the same play over and over again, so I just took a gamble on it and I was like ‘I might as well,’ and it fell right into my hands.”
Williams then intercepted another pass and his return set up another Chabot-to-Coon scoring pass to make it 25-6 after three quarters.
“Ben had a rough week last week and he didn’t take it very well,” Deering coach Matt Riddell said. “He came out on fire tonight. He made a bunch of nice big hits, two picks. That was huge. I think that was the nail in the coffin.”
A 62-yard Chabot to Dom Bernard TD pass iced the 32-12 victory.
Deering’s defense bent on several occasions but didn’t break. Edward Little moved the ball into the red zone four times, but the Rams’ defense allowed just six points on those four trips.
“Coach (Rob) Susi has done an amazing job preparing this defense every week and it seems like every time our back is to the wall, he calls the right defense in the right spot and we make the stop,” Riddell said.
Chabot threw the ball 28 times, completing 17 for 264 yards, tossing three touchdowns and two interceptions. Chabot’s go-to target, Coon, caught six passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Six different receivers caught at least one pass.
“It’s the same with all of my receivers,” Chabot said. “We’re all really good friends and they’re all really good, which doesn’t hurt. They all run very crisp routes, especially Jacob on the seam route. It’s really a joy throwing to those guys.”
The Rams will finish the regular season at top-ranked Cheverus Saturday. Deering is seeking its first win over the Stags since Oct. 25, 2008 (40-6 at Cheverus). Last year, the Stags prevailed, 56-12, at Deering.
Coming off a season-turning win at Windham, Portland knew it couldn’t afford a letdown when Lewiston visited Friday and the Bulldogs rose to the occasion, scoring often en route to a 55-6 win.
Portland closes its regular season at 5-2 South Portland in the “Battle of the Bridge” Saturday afternoon. Last year, the Bulldogs prevailed at home, 38-14.
Cheverus also had to avoid a letdown after last week’s epic win at previously undefeated Thornton Academy. Visiting Bangor had already won this year at Portland and gave the Stags a challenge, but Cheverus wasn’t about to lose at home twice in one season.
The Rams took advantage of a Stags’ special teams mistake to grab a 7-0 lead, but in the span of three plays, Cheverus bounced back and drew even on a 17-yard scamper from standout back Joe Fitzpatrick. Late in the first quarter, the Stags went on top for good, as quarterback Isaac Dunn threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Liam LaFountain, making it 14-7.
When Dunn hooked up with senior Zordan Holman for a 16-yard TD strike to give Cheverus a 21-7 halftime lead, the hosts appeared to be in good shape, but Bangor wasn’t about to go quietly.
In the third period, the Rams embarked on an epic 17-play drive that chewed up almost nine minutes and resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 21-14.
Then, with the Stags looking to counter, Fitzpatrick fumbled the ball away.
Cheverus wasn’t about to let Bangor score again, however, and after a strong defensive stand, the Stags got the ball back and Fitzpatrick got a chance to redeem himself, which he did with runs of 23- and 33-yards, setting up a clinching 1-yard dive from Justin Johnston and Cheverus went on to a 28-14 victory.
“Anytime (a fumble) happens, I’m killing myself on the sidelines,” sad Fitzpatrick, who turned 18 Friday, then produced a 186 yards and a TD on 24 carries Saturday. “I knew I had to make up for it somehow. The next drive is always a big drive for me and I was running angry.”
“We knew we had to pull it out with our heart and seal it,” Stags lineman Zach Handley said.
“They had us on the ropes, but we’re all about grit,” added Cheverus coach John Wolfgram. “That’s the way you play football. We hung tough and made the plays. We stood up physically today.”
The Stags (now first in Eastern A) puts a bow on their regular season Saturday when they host Deering.
“Our mission is to have a good game next week against Deering,” Fitzpatrick said. “They’re tough too.”
“I feel like we’re going into playoffs strong,” said Handley. “We’ll match up well against any opponent, but we still have work to do. It will be a fun postseason.”
“We’re coming along,” Wolfgram added. “We have a chance to get a high seed. that’s what we’re looking for. That gives you the best chance for success and we’d like the week off. A bye week is nice.”
Sun Journal staff writer Mike Kraft contributed to this story.
Cheverus senior Zach Handley crushes Bangor junior quarterback Jeff Lewis during the Stags’ 28-14 home win Saturday.
In a ruling which has created a seismic change in the Eastern Class A Crabtree Points standings, Portland has forfeited its Sept. 12 victory over Deering after self-reporting that an ineligible player took part in the final four minutes of the Bulldogs’ 42-14 triumph.
Portland athletic director Rob O’Leary, who has only been in his position since August, said Friday that it was an administrative error pertaining to a player who had transferred from Deering to Portland and while both schools had approved the transfer, the paperwork hadn’t been approved by the Maine Principals’ Association and therefore, the unidentified player shouldn’t have played that night.
“It was an administrative mistake,” O’Leary said. “When we were alerted, we self-reported.”
MPA rules dictate that use of an ineligible player results in a forfeit, whether a school self reports or not.
As a result, Portland’s record is 4-3 instead of 5-2 and the Bulldogs will likely finish the season fourth instead of third. Deering is now 4-3 instead of 3-4 and finds itself fifth.
The significance of the standings shuffle means that it’s quite likely Portland will host Deering in the Eastern A quarterfinals.
As if there won’t be enough hype around that game as it is, it will almost certainly be played a week from Friday night.