There was plenty at stake for all three city football teams entering the regular season finale Friday evening.
Defending Class A state champion Cheverus extended its win streak to 20, but it didn’t come easily. The Stags went to Deering, which needed a win to earn a home playoff game. While the Rams’ defense came up big most of the night, the offense didn’t cooperate and couldn’t take advantage of good field position as Cheverus went on to a 14-0 win.
Three different times in the first half, Deering began in Stags’ territory, but couldn’t convert and the game was scoreless at the break. Cheverus got the ball to start the second half and needed just five plays and 1 minute, 49 seconds to march for the first score of the game, a 52-yard TD run from senior Spencer Cooke. Later in the third period, sophomore Donald Goodrich (who sparkled on defense in the first half with four sacks) broke free for a 59-yard TD run. The Stags put the finishing touches on the victory and improved to 8-0.
“We were a little frustrated, but we stepped it up,” said Goodrich. “I loved our energy coming out in the second half. It was a great half of energy for us.”
“We were expecting a battle,” said Cheverus coach John Wolfgram. “They’re our rival. They played us tough. They were physical. We made plays defensively (in the first half). We just had terrible field position the whole first half. It’s tough to open the playbook when you have that type of field position.”
Deering wound up 5-3 with its third loss in four games, but first-year coach Jon Gallant did see positive signs.
“We made too many mistakes against a good team,” said Gallant. “We felt we matched up well for the most part. We knew they wouldn’t make many mistakes. We couldn’t capitalize on the mistakes they did make. Our players are starting to understand just how good they can be at times. The attitude and effort tonight, we took major strides.”
The Rams wound up fifth in the Western A Crabtree Points standings and will be at No. 4 Bonny Eagle (5-3), winners of five in a row, in the quarterfinals. In Week 7, Deering lost at the Scots, 41-7. The teams have met in five of the past seven postseasons with Bonny Eagle holding a 3-2 edge. Last year, in the semifinals in Standish, the Rams shocked the Scots, 28-6.
“Obviously, (the Scots are) good,” Gallant said. “We were only down 14-7 at halftime last time. If we can clean up the little things and take advantage of what we have, we’ll be fine. Hopefully we perform better, capitalize and finish when we have chances.”
The Stags finished 8-0 and first in Western Class A for the second year in a row. They will host No. 8 Scarborough (3-5) in Saturday’s quarterfinal round. Cheverus blanked the visiting Red Storm 38-0, in Week 5 and held Scarborough off, 21-14, in last year’s semifinal round.
“(Going 8-0) is nice, but this is just one season,” said Wolfgram. “We’re the No. 1 seed. That’s a very good thing. We’re very proud of the No. 1 seed, but that doesn’t give us anything. It gives us a chance to be successful.”
Playoffs will have to wait another year for the plucky Portland Bulldogs after a 20-7 home loss to South Portland in the Battle of the Bridge. Portland was sitting pretty at halftime, up, 7-0, thanks to a short TD run from sophomore Jayvon Pitts-Young. In the third period, the Bulldogs were driving to build their lead, but an interception was returned 96 yards for the tying touchdown. After the Red Riots went on top early in the fourth on a TD run, they returned another pick for a score to put it away.
“We put up a fight again,” lamented longtime Portland coach Mike Bailey. “We were ‘that close’ in every game. The kids played hard. We marched right down and scored first. We had 300 yards of offense and they only had 100. We played outstanding defense. They only completed one pass, but we threw the two interceptions and they had a short field for their offensive TD.”
Portland winds up 2-6 and 11th in the Crabtree Points standings, but only eight teams made the cut. Rest assured that this young and promising group will be in the hunt next fall.
“We hope to win the (annual Thanksgiving Day game against Deering) and we’ll continue to work,” Bailey said. “The future’s bright, but the kids have to pay the price. They need to lift and run. I think they will. They’re a great bunch.”
Cheverus sophomore Donald Goodrich cuts back and eludes Deering senior Trey Thomes during a 59-yard touchdown run in the third quarter Friday evening. Goodrich’s score made it 14-0 Stags and that’s how the game ended.
Portland senior Seamus Kilbride falls forward for extra yardage during Friday’s home game versus South Portland. The Bulldogs lost the “Battle of the Bridge,” 20-7.