Regardless of which city football team you cheer for, you went home with a smile on your face Friday evening.
The defending Class A state champion Cheverus Stags made it 14 successive victories with a 35-0 win at Gorham.
The Stags, who erupted in the second half for a 59-21 home victory over South Portland in the opener, quickly dashed any Rams’ upset hopes as senior standout runner Spencer Cooke had two rushing TDs and senior quarterback Cam Olson found classmate Louie DiStasio through the air for a 21-0 lead after one period.
Olson and DiStasio hooked up again and Olson found junior Donald Goodrich for a 35-0 halftime lead, a margin that held the rest of the night.
Cheverus has a big test Friday when it goes to desperate 0-2 Bonny Eagle. The Scots figure to play like wounded animals in that game as their season appears to be on the line. Last year, Cheverus held off visiting Bonny Eagle, 23-20, in a highly anticipated showdown of unbeatens. The last time the Stags were at the Scots, in 2009, they lost, 24-21, in overtime.
Deering, a 41-8 home winner over Noble in the opener, also made it 2-0, building a 21-0 lead before holding off host Windham, 28-20.
Senior wide receiver Renaldo Lowry had himself a night, scoring the game’s first two touchdowns on perfectly thrown passes from senior quarterback Matt Flaherty. Flaherty ran for Deering’s other two touchdowns.
“We run the spread option,” Flaherty stated. “I love it.”
Lowry got the Rams going with a 50-yard punt return which brought the ball to the Windham 24-yard line with 8:22 to play in the first quarter. On second down, Lowry ran a textbook fade route in the right side of the end zone and caught the ball with two defenders near him to give Deering the lead for good (senior Brandon Saucier, who also plays soccer, is pretty much lights out on PATs and booted the ball through the uprights for a 7-0 advantage).
In the second quarter, the Rams methodically marched down the field behind the running of senior Trey Thomes and Flaherty to get all the way to the Windham 37. Then, Lowry burned the secondary and got open on the right side and caught a pass in stride near the sideline and raced to the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown reception and 14-0 Deering lead with 7:20 to play in the second quarter.
“Renaldo is a great football player,” said Rams’ first-year coach Jon Gallant. “He’s got great speed, great hands and he has the ability to run great routes when he’s focused. You have to give our line a lot of credit as (Flaherty) had a ton of time all night. We have speed to go deep and we just have to give our quarterback time and we did that. He made great reads tonight.”
On the ensuing Windham possession, senior Nick DiBiase snagged an interception and ran it to the Windham 32. Flaherty ran himself on three of the next four plays and then Thomes ran for five yards which put the ball at the Windham 5. Flaherty got good blocking up front and jolted through for a rushing touchdown and 21-0 lead with 4:25 to play in the half.
Windham then started their drive at their own 28, and proceeded to march down the field all the way to the Deering 5, but on fourth-and-goal from the 11, Rams’ junior Sam Ezzy and sophomore John Curtis flattened a receiver on a little dump pass for a turnover on downs with 1:12 remaining.
“Our defense is really good this year,” said Flaherty.
“Our motto here is to swarm,” Lowry said. “Everyone. Eleven men getting to the ball. We like to run fast. (Windham’s TD O’Brien) is s a hell of a quarterback, but in the end, you need to have that extra push, and we just outplayed him.”
Windham quickly got back within 21-14 early in the fourth period, but a Flaherty TD run extended the lead to 28-14. The Eagles scored once more late, but Deering closed the door from there and won, 28-20.
“The middle of the field was wide open, so I have to take it, you know?” Flaherty said. “We all love football. We just love football and we’ll play to the last second like we did tonight. After a couple turnovers we come back and still score a touchdown.”
“We gave it our fight,” Lowry said. “Windham is a team that can always come back, we knew that. We came out sloppy (in the second half) and they gave us their best game.”
“(Windham’s) a good team and they’re going to keep fighting,” Gallant added. “All that matters at the end of the night is who has one more points. It was a great high school football game.”
Deering travels to 1-1 Kennebunk next week. The teams have never met on the field before.
The most encouraging result came in North Berwick, where Portland balanced its slate at 1-1 with a 39-12 victory over Noble.
The Bulldogs, who were humbled, 39-0, at Massabesic in Week One, got off to a great start when sophomore Justin Zukowski fell on a fumble in the end zone for an early 7-0 lead. After the Knights got back to 7-6, sophomore Jayvon Pitts-Young scored on a short run and Portland would cling to a 13-12 lead at halftime.
The Bulldogs pulled away in the third quarter behind a Pitts-Young TD pass to senior Seamus Kilbride and a scoring run by junior Nick Volger. Fourth quarter TD runs from Zukowski and freshman Jordan Floridino accounted for the final score.
Portland has its home opener Friday when Gorham comes calling. Last year, the Bulldogs downed the host Rams, 42-22.
Freelance writer Ryan Robb contributed to this story.
Deering senior wide receiver Renaldo Lowry hauls in a touchdown pass despite the best defensive efforts of Windham junior Todd Allen. The Rams improved to 2-0 with a 28-20 victory over the Eagles.
Deering sophomore lineman John Curtis wraps up Windham senior quarterback TD O’Brien.