(Ed. Note: For the complete Portland-Scarborough game story, with a box score and additional photos, see theforecaster.net)
The opening night of the high school football season saw impressive wins for Cheverus and Deering, while defending Class A South champion Portland suffered a surprise loss.
Portland dominated the regular season a year ago and wasn’t bested until Thornton Academy scored 10 unanswered fourth quarter points in the Class A state final. The Bulldogs are the odds-on favorite in Class A North this fall as well and expected to improve to 7-0 all-time against visiting Scarborough in the teams’ opener Friday night, but the Red Storm sprung a 14-13 surprise.
Portland, which won last year’s meeting, 47-26, in Scarborough, took the lead early in the second quarter when its newly unleashed aerial attack produced a 23-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback Isaiah Bachelder to no-longer-secret-weapon junior Griffin Foley.
Scarborough roared right back and drew even when junior first-year quarterback Zoltan Panyi found junior Reece Lagerquist for a 6-yard score, but the Bachelder-to-Foley combination struck again for a 30-yard touchdown and while the extra point was blocked, the Bulldogs led, 13-7, at halftime.
After Portland failed to add to its lead in the third quarter, squandering a first-and-goal at the 4 opportunity and coming away without a point when a field goal snap went awry, the Red Storm pounced and got a 25-yard scoring strike from Panyi to senior Tim Carion and the extra point from senior placekicker Emmett Peoples to go on top by one late in the third period.
The Bulldogs’ next drive ended with an incomplete pass to sophomore Zach Elowitch at the Scarborough 1, a pass that video later revealed should have been ruled complete, and a final foray saw Portland turned the ball over on downs as Scarborough went on to a 14-13 victory.
“We had some tough breaks,” lamented Portland coach Jim Hartman. “One play determines the winner and we didn’t make it.
Bachelder had his best throwing game to date, completing 15 of 24 attempts for 275 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Foley’s debut game resulted in eight catches for 182 yards and two scores.
“I think Griffin will be doubled now,” Hartman said. “We knew Isaiah could throw. I was proud of the pass blocking. We did a lot of positive things.”
Ethan Hoyt had four receptions for 54 yards and on the ground, Dylan Bolduc gained 58 yards on 14 attempts and Nick Archambault finished with 51 yards on 13 rushes.
The Bulldogs had 352 yards of offense, but couldn’t translate that into enough points. They were flagged five times for 56 yards.
“Scarborough is way better than people think,” Hartman said. “They’re well coached. Their quarterback is a tough kid.”
Portland hopes to bounce back when it goes to Edward Little Friday (the Red Eddies beat Bangor, 18-6, in their opener). Last year, the Bulldogs beat visiting Edward Little, 33-0, to improve to 44-19-2 all-time in the series.
“This loss will get the guys’ attention,” Hartman said. “They were arrogant and the coaches were arrogant, but I think we’ll be fine.”
Last fall, Deering got some much needed stability from new coach Jason Jackson, The Forecaster’s Coach of the Year. The Rams went 6-3 and lost by a mere point to Bonny Eagle in the Class A South semifinals. This year’s team believes it can be just as good, if not better, and in its opener, Deering handled visiting Massabesic, 54-7.
The competitive phase of the contest was over after 12 minutes, as the Rams (who won last year’s meeting, 35-6) got first quarter touchdowns from Nate Richards on runs of 1-, 32- and 89-yards and a TD run from Caysey Anthony from 5-yards out for a commanding 28-0 advantage. By halftime, the score was 48-0, as quarterback Joe Pelletier found Richards for a 36-yard strike, Rob Dacey ran for a 33-yard touchdown and Raffaele Salamone returned a fumble 74-yards to paydirt. After a scoreless third quarter, Pelletier found Jean-Claude Butera for a 40-yard TD strike to end Deering’s scoring. The Mustangs got a score late to account for the 54-7 final.
The Rams look to improve to 2-0 Friday when they visit 0-1 Sanford (which lost to defending Class A champion Thornton Academy, 62-27, in its opener). Last fall, Deering edged the visiting Spartans, 14-13.
Much has been made in the offseason about Cheverus’ coaching turnover from the state’s most legendary leader, John Wolfgram, to his veteran assistant, Mike Vance, who, until Friday, was untested at the head coaching level.
Suffice it to say that Vance had a positive debut.
The Stags went to Oxford Hills/Buckfield and led all the way en route to a 33-18 victory. Cheverus went ahead, 6-0, after one quarter on a 36-yard run from Griffin Watson and extended its advantage to 13-0 at halftime after Rylan Benedict scored on a 7-yard scamper. In the third period, a 25-yard scoring pass from Perrin Conant to Kieran Conley and a 54-yard Watson TD run were sandwiched around a Vikings’ score to extend the lead to 26-6. Oxford Hills/Buckfield made things interesting with a pair of fourth quarter rushing touchdowns to cut the deficit to 26-18, but a 46-yard Benedict TD scamper put it away.
Cheverus’ quest for a 2-0 start won’t come easily. The Stags host Thornton Academy in Saturday’s home opener. Kickoff time has been moved to 2 p.m. due to ACT testing. Last year, Cheverus was humbled at Saco, 57-0.
Portland junior Griffin Foley leaps for one of his eight catches during the Bulldogs’ 14-13 home loss to Scarborough in Friday’s regular season opener.
Portland junior Vincent Pasquali tries to bring down a Scarborough ball carrier during Friday’s loss.