Cheverus bounces back with decisive win over Bangor

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Cheverus senior Dominic Casale is congratulated by senior Anthony Pirone after a third quarter touchdown reception in Saturday’s 30-0 home win over Bangor.

Chris Lambert photos.

More photos below.


Cheverus 30 Bangor 0

B- 0 0 0 0- 0
C- 7 3 13 7- 30

First quarter
C- Coffin 11 run (Hartigan kick)

Second quarter
C- Hartigan 27 FG

Third quarter
C- D. Casale 60 pass from J. Casale (kick blocked)
C- D. Casale 37 pass from J. Casale (Hartigan kick)

Fourth quarter
C- Benedict 27 run (Hartigan kick) 

PORTLAND—Last Saturday night, Cheverus’ football team made a statement and did a lot of things right, but still wound up dropping a painful decision to rival Portland.

Saturday afternoon at Boulos Stadium, on Homecoming, the Stags continued their strong play and this time, were rewarded with a victory.

Hosting winless Bangor, Cheverus moved up and down the field in the first half, but only had 10 points to show for it, an 11-yard run from junior workhorse running back Max Coffin in the first quarter and a 27-yard field goal from senior placekicker Chandler Hartigan in the second.

The Stags then quickly ended any remaining doubt in the third quarter when the Casale Cousins Aerial Show twice hooked up for long scores, as senior quarterback Jack Casale hit senior Dominic Casale first for 60 yards and then for 37, making the score 23-0.

Senior Rylan Benedict, who joined Coffin as a 100-yard-plus runner, then scored on a 27-yard scamper in the fourth period and Cheverus went on to a 30-0 victory.

The Stags improved to 4-2, won on their home turf for the first time this fall and dropped Bangor to 0-6 in the process.

“It’s a nice win on Homecoming,” said Cheverus first-year coach Mike Vance. “I didn’t need to get the kids focused. They came in ready to go. They give us the same effort every practice, every game. They’re not a really vocal group. They’re unassuming. They show up and they’re very consistent.”

Trending up

While Bangor has struggled so far in 2016, losing games to Edward Little (18-6), Windham (37-0), Bonny Eagle (70-7), Lewiston (34-14) and South Portland (42-21), Cheverus has gradually improved.

The Stags  started with a 33-18 win at Oxford Hills, then were blanked at home by two-time defending Class A champion Thornton Academy, 65-0. Cheverus responded and prevailed at Lewiston (28-20) and Edward Little (17-14). Last weekend, the Stags took an early 14-0 lead and hung tough for 48 minutes against defending Class A South champion Portland, but ultimately lost, 35-27.

Bangor and Cheverus have played many times over the decades (including a 46-8 Stags’ romp in the 2010 Class A state game), but the regular season rivalry was dormant for a long stretch before being renewed in 2013. That year, the Stags won, 49-7, in Bangor and again, 37-0, in the semifinals. Two years ago, Cheverus prevailed at home, 28-14, in the regular season, then ousted the visiting Rams in the semifinal round of the playoffs, 35-6. Last fall, the Stags made the trip north and came away victorious, 34-14.

Saturday, on a comfortable (64 degrees at kickoff) albeit cloudy afternoon, Cheverus was in control virtually throughout.

The Stags won the opening coin toss, but deferred possession to the second half.

Bangor started at its 35 after the opening kickoff went out of bounds and began to drive. After junior Nick Canarr was held to no gain, senior quarterback Gary Farnham threw incomplete, but on third-and-10, Farnham connected with junior Luke Tuell for 18 yards, as Tuell eluded a defender to move the ball into Cheverus territory. After Canarr picked up three yards, Farnham hit senior Derek McCarthy for four, but Farnham’s keeper on the next snap only gained a yard, setting up fourth-and-2 from the 39. Canarr got the call, but he was stopped after gaining just one yard and the Stags took over on their 38 with 9:44 to go in the first quarter.

Ten plays and 4 minutes, 33 seconds later, Cheverus was on top to stay.

The drive began inauspiciously, as Benedict was thrown for a three yard loss by Tuell and Jack Casale threw incomplete, but Coffin got the ball on third down and made the most of his first touch, breaking a 28 yard run to the Bangor 37. After Benedict ran for three yards, Coffin picked up five and Benedict gained four to move the chains. Benedict then got the ball three straight times, gaining seven, five and two yards before Coffin capped the drive with a 11-yard burst, as he ran up the middle, then cut back left and outran the pursuit to the pylon for the touchdown. Hartigan added the extra point with 5:11 to go in the period and the Stags led, 7-0.

The Rams started their next drive at their 19 and went three-and-out, as Canarr caught a pass for seven yards and ran for another yard before Farnham threw incomplete.

Cheverus got the ball back at its 40, but on the first play, the ball was fumbled and Bangor senior Ben Burt recovered at the Stags’ 30.

The Rams weren’t able to take advantage, however, as after sophomore Phil Slick caught a pass for three yards and Canarr ran for four, Farnham was sacked by junior Christian Gilliam for an 11 yard loss and on fourth down, Farnham threw incomplete.

Late in the quarter, Cheverus started at its 34 and was immediately backed up 15 yards by a chop block penalty. After Coffin ran for four yards, Casale threw incomplete, but on third-and-21, Benedict picked up exactly 21 yards to move the chains. On the final play of the first quarter, Benedict picked up two yards (giving the Stags a 64-31 advantage in the first 12 minutes). On the first snap of the second period, Coffin lost a yard and Casale threw incomplete. After an offsides penalty on Bangor, Vance opted to punt and the Rams had to start their next series on their 23.

Again, Cheverus forced a three-and-out, as Farnham threw incomplete, junior Nathan Dunn sacked Farnham for a nine yard loss and a 15-yard Farnham-to-Canarr pass completion left the visitors four yards shy of a first down.

With 9:31 to go before halftime, the Stags started at their 23 and they would chew up seven minutes on a 15-play drive which ultimately ended with a field goal, not a touchdown.

Coffin got things started with an 11 yard burst. After Coffin ran for four yards and Benedict picked up five, Coffin moved the chains with a five yard run. Coffin picked up five more to move the ball into Bangor territory. On the next play, Benedict ran for two yards and a five-yard facemask penalty was tacked on for a first down. Coffin then ran for two yards and caught a pass for four and on third-and-4, the Rams did the Stags a favor and jumped offsides. After a 10 yard Coffin run moved the ball to the 19, junior Griffin Watson gained four yards on a reverse and Benedict ran for six to set up first-and-goal from the 9. After Benedict was held to no gain, Casale’s pass was knocked down by Burt and his third down pass to Dominic Casale was batted down by McCarthy. Vance then elected to kick the field goal and Hartigan hooked a 27-yarder inside the left upright for a 10-0 lead with 2:31 to play in the half.

Bangor started at its 17 and after McCarthy ran for two yards, Farnham hit senior Noah White for 11 yards and a first down. Canarr then broke free for 13 yards, but a block in the back penalty brought the ball back to the 26. After Farnham threw incomplete, Canarr ran for two yards and Farnham hit McCarthy for only five yards, setting up a fourth-and-7 from the 33, forcing another punt.

Cheverus got the ball back at its 36, but only 27.3 seconds remained and Casale took a knee as the Stags took their 10-0 lead to the break.

In the first half, Cheverus gained 135 yards to 53 for the Rams. Coffin rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries while Benedict picked up 54 yards on 12 attempts.

Any lingering doubts were quickly put to bed by the Stags’ passing game in the third quarter.

Cheverus started from its 37 and after two Benedict rushes gained a total of three yards, Casale dropped back and threw a deep pass down the left sideline. Dominic Casale came down with the ball at the Bangor 20, broke a tackle, then strode into the end zone to complete a 60 yard TD with 10:16 remaining in the period. Hartigan’s PAT was blocked by Tuell, but the Stags had a 16-0 lead.

The Rams, starting at their 14, looked to answer, but after two runs by Canarr gained 13 yards and a first down, Canarr rushed for four yards, Farnham threw incomplete and Coffin showed he could play a little defense too, throwing Canarr for a one yard loss, forcing a punt which Dominic Casale fair caught at the Cheverus 44.

This time, the Stags needed five plays to hit paydirt.

After Coffin ran three times for 16 yards, Casale kept the ball on a broken play and ran for three yards to the Bangor 37. On the next play, Casale hit Dominic Casale on a deep post and Casale hauled the ball in behind the defense for a 37-yard score. This time, Hartigan’s extra point was good, making it 23-0 Cheverus with 6:20 left in the third.

“In the first half, we had some jitters and we had route confusion a couple times,” Jack Casale said. “In the second half, we knew if he got behind the defense, we’d be fine. I put it up there and he caught it. Our O line put us in a good position, holding their blocks. I know he’s a big target and if I throw it up, he’ll go get it.”

“Those two have done that together since they were in diapers,” Vance said. “We know we can throw the ball.”

On the ensuing kickoff, McCarthy fumbled and Dunn recovered at the Rams’ 30.

The Stags couldn’t take advantage, however, as Casale threw incomplete, Benedict ran for three yards and Benedict picked up just two on third-and-7. After a delay of game penalty, Cheverus punted and pinned Bangor at its 16.

The Stags got the ball right back again, as Farnham was intercepted by senior Bobby Slattery, who made an athletic play to come down with the ball at the Bangor 45.

Again, Cheverus couldn’t transform the turnover into points, as after Benedict was held to no gain, a 20 yard Benedict run was wiped out by a holding penalty and after Watson ran for two yards and Coffin picked up 12 on third-and-17, Stags freshman punter Sean Tompkins pinned the Rams at their 16.

Cheverus junior Bob Holzhacker threw Canarr for a two yard loss on first down and Farnham completed a pass to Tuell for only two yards on second down, but on the next play, McCarthy caught a 12 yard pass to move the chains. On the final play of the third period, Canarr ran for a yard. On the first snap of the final stanza, Farnham hit Slick for five yards, but an incomplete pass on third down forced a punt.

With 11:19 to go, the Stags started at their 43 and four plays and 1:47 later had one final score.

After Coffin ran for 15 yards to the Bangor 42, Benedict picked up seven and Coffin gained eight for a first down at the 27. Benedict then put the cherry on the sundae with a 27 yard scoring run up the gut and Hartigan’s PAT with 9:32 to play extended the lead to 30-0.

After Bangor went three-and-out, as sophomore Zack Milliken ran twice for seven yards and Canarr gained one, Cheverus started at its 26, but shot itself in the foot with penalties.

Benedict ran for seven yards and Coffin picked up eight to move the chains, but a holding penalty set up first-and-21. After junior Finn Cawley ran for three yards, a 13 yard Cawley run was negated by a holding penalty and on the next snap, a 31 yard Cawley gain was negated by another hold, setting up second-and-35. Coffin and Cawley each ran for five yards, but the Stags had to punt.

With 3:13 left, the Rams started at their 39, but a Farnham pass to Canarr led to no gain, Farnham threw incomplete and a five yard Canarr run forced a punt.

Cheverus got the ball one final time, at its 38 with 2:02 remaining, and managed to run out the clock, as after an illegal shift penalty, Cawley ran three times for nine yards and the Stags were able to celebrate their 30-0 victory.

“It feels good,” Jack Casale said. “We wanted to come out and show we could compete and be tough and physical. Bangor’s physical and we wanted to match their physicality. We played a really good game against Portland, but we had to move forward. We wanted to execute today and we did.”

“It was our best defensive game,” Vance said. “The kids are playing well and I think they’re having fun too.”

The Stags finished with a 320-100 advantage in yardage.

Coffin led the way with 148 yards and one TD on 19 carries. He also caught a pass for 4 yards.

“I have to congratulate my offensive line for blocking for me and giving me the holes I needed,” Coffin said. “We knew their D line wasn’t as strong as our offensive line. We knew we could body them up.”

“We wanted to spring the fullback game a little bit today and we did,” Vance said. “We’ll need to do a number of things moving forward.”

Benedict broke triple figures as well, gaining 103 yards and scoring one touchdown on 20 carries.

Jack Casale finished with just three completions in nine attempts, but they went for 101 yards and two TDs. Dominic Casale had two catches for 97 yards and both went to the house.

Cheverus had two sacks, forced two turnovers and overcame one turnover and seven penalties for 62 yards.

Bangor committed five penalties for 37 yards.

The Rams were led offensively by Canarr, who had 37 yards on 14 carries. Farnham completed 11 of 20 passes for 82 yards with one interception. Canarr caught three balls for 22 yards, McCarthy had three receptions for 21, Tuell had two catches for 20 and Slick had two receptions for 8.

High hopes

Bangor (seventh in Class A North, where six teams make the playoffs) has to come back to the big city Friday to battle 5-1 Portland. The Rams then close at home versus Oxford Hills Oct. 21.

Cheverus (currently second in the region) has two tough tilts remaining, at Scarborough Friday and at home versus Windham Oct. 22. 

It’s still possible for the Stags to finish second, which would give them a bye into the semifinals.

“We couldn’t let the TA loss affect our whole season, so we’ve had to bounce back and work hard every day and give it all we’ve got,” Coffin said. “We have great attitudes and we’ll keep working hard.”

“We’ll have the same mindset as the Portland game,” Jack Casale said. “We’ll be the underdog, but we’ll play tough, fight and execute our stuff. Coach will put us in a position to win, so we just have to be mature.”

“We’re still maturing, but I’m pleased with our growth,” Vance added. “We’re not where we want to be yet, but I think we’re on our way. We have to worry about Scarborough. They’re a very good team. It’s going to take everything we’ve got.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Cheverus senior Rylan Benedict gains some of his 104 yards.

Cheverus senior quarterback Jack Casale throws a pass to junior Max Coffin.

Cheverus senior Bobby Slattery leaps to make an interception.

Cheverus junior Max Coffin breaks free for a first quarter touchdown run.

Cheverus senior Dominic Casale catches a pass for the Stags’ second touchdown.

Cheverus senior Dominic Casale hauls in a touchdown pass for a 23-0 lead.

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.