The football regular season concludes this coming weekend and all three city teams will play major roles in determining who goes where for the playoffs.
Defending Class A state champion Cheverus improved to 7-0 Saturday night, but it wasn’t easy. The Stags visited the feisty Bulldogs of Portland and got a close game at last.
The young and unheralded Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead by driving 89 yards in 15 plays, chewing up 8 minutes, 16 seconds, culminated by a 4-yard TD run by sophomore quarterback Jayvon Pitts-Young and an extra point from junior Kyle Reichert.
Cheverus didn’t pull even until the second quarter, when senior Spencer Cooke scored on a 24-yard run. The game went to the half tied at 7-7.
In the third period, the Stags finally seized control as senior quarterback Cam Olson broke free for a 44-yard scoring run and Cooke added a TD rush from 25 yards out. Portland couldn’t answer and Cheverus went on to a 21-7 win, improving to 7-0, while dropping the Bulldogs to 2-5.
“We didn’t execute very well in the first half and we had the most penalties we’ve had all year,” said Cooke, who had 156 yards and two TDs on 21 carries. “(Portland) didn’t really surprise us. We took them as we take every other team. They had a nice drive in the first quarter. It almost seemed like we were a little bit asleep in the first half.”
“This is the first time we’ve really been challenged this year and we really needed it,” said Cheverus coach John Wolfgram. “(Portland) played us real tough. They’re a physical team. They’re getting better. They have some size. They took away some of our things. We had to play four quarters for sure.”
The Stags likely have the top spot in the Western Class A Crabtree Points standings wrapped up. They close at Deering Friday night.
Portland wasn’t surprised it gave Cheverus a game.
“We felt we could match up with them,” said longtime Bulldogs coach Mike Bailey. “We’ve watched enough tape on them and had enough tendencies. We felt we had a good gameplan. The kids felt confident they could handle the person across from them and they did it.
“Unfortunately, it’s been our tale, we hurt ourselves, especially with penalties. We’ve got to get over that hump to start winning football games. We’re a decent team. We play hard, but we keep doing stupid things.”
The Bulldogs are 10th in the Crabtrees (only eight teams make the playoffs), but they still have hope heading into Friday night’s home finale against 5-2 South Portland.
“I think we’ll end up playing the toughest schedule opponent-wise, so that will help us,” Bailey said. “If we can beat South Portland, I don’t know if we can beat out a 4-4 team.”
Deering, meanwhile, is going in the wrong direction. Saturday afternoon, the Rams dropped to 5-2 with their second loss in three outings, 41-7, at Bonny Eagle. Deering trailed 14-0 in the second quarter, but got a touchdown pass from senior Matt Flaherty to sophomore Chhorda Chorn. That was it for the offense and the Scots pulled away to avenge last year’s playoff loss to the Rams.
Deering is fourth in the Crabtrees, but likely needs a win against Cheverus Friday at home to ensure a home playoff game. The Rams are hoping to avenge last year’s epic 35-34 loss at the Stags in the Western A Final.