(Ed. Note: For the complete South Portland-Sanford game story, with additional photos and a box score, see theforecaster.net)
Everyone was a winner last football weekend.
Friday evening, South Portland had to hold on for dear life, but managed to edge visiting Sanford, 29-25, for its fourth win a row.
Scarborough, meanwhile, went to Biddeford and enjoyed a 34-13 triumph as it got in the win column for the first time.
Saturday night, Cape Elizabeth snapped a two-game skid with a decisive 48-0 home win over Freeport.
Back and forth
After losing its opener, 47-6, at powerhouse Thornton Academy, South Portland upset visiting defending Class A champion Bonny Eagle, then won at Massabesic and Noble.
Friday, the Red Riots hosted Sanford, the team that crushed their playoff hopes a year ago. South Portland took a quick 7-0 lead on a touchdown run from Matthew Stearns, but the Spartans rallied within one by first quarter’s end and when they cashed in on good field position late in the second period, they had a 12-7 advantage at the break.
The second half would feature a see-saw ride of epic proportions.
After a short touchdown run from Jaren Muller gave the Red Riots the lead, Sanford answered with a big play to go up, 19-15, with 12 minutes to play. In the fourth quarter, quarterback Nick Mezzanotte hit Muller on a fourth down for a score, but again, the Spartans answered immediately and with time running out, South Portland was down, 25-22.
The Red Riots simply wouldn’t be denied, however, as with 4:15 to play, Stearns scored on a 6-yard run to put his team ahead to stay, 29-25. South Portland’s defense, behind an interception from Hayden Owen and a last second stop on a Hail Mary pass, slammed the door and survived to improve to 4-1, as they dropped Sanford to 2-3 in the process.
“It was amazing,” Stearns said. “We live for these games. Night games, Friday night, we love it. We never got discouraged. We knew we’d win it. This is a revenge game for us. We lost to them last year on our home field and we wanted to correct it this year.”
“The defense really stepped up at the end,” Owen said. “We love the pressure. We’re playing good football right now. We’re getting better every day. It was close, but we came out with a huge win.”
“It was a great game,” said Red Riots coach Steve Stinson. “It was two good high school football teams playing a good high school football game tonight. This was a typical South Portland-Sanford game. We get up for each other. We’ve had some battles with them.”
South Portland (third in the Western Class A Crabtree Points standings behind Thornton Academy and Bonny Eagle) host 1-4 Scarborough Friday night (more on that matchup in a moment).
Scarborough has taken its lumps this year with basically a brand new team, but after dropping its first four, it went to Biddeford last weekend and made a powerful statement.
The Red Storm struck quickly when quarterback Jack Hughes hit Griffin Madden with a long touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead after one period. In the second quarter, Drew LeClair scored on a short TD run and Hughes hit Milani Hicks for a long score for a 21-7 advantage at the break. Another Hughes TD pass, this one to Anthony Quintiliani, made it 28-7 after three quarters and a short scoring run from Zach Carreiro put it away as Scarborough went on to the 34-13 win.
Hughes completed 11-of-17 passes for 309 yards and three scores and gained 88 yards on nine carries. Carreiro finshed with 100 yards and a touchdown on 14 rushes. Hicks caught four balls for 140 yards and a score.
“I was really proud of our players last week,” said Red Storm coach Lance Johnson. “After the start to our season, we could have mailed it in and stopped working. Our players did exactly the opposite, they stepped it up in practice and worked even harder.
While this year’s contest probably won’t match that one, the Red Riots hope to keep their winning streak going, while the Red Storm could use a statement win.
“If we don’t bring our best, we won’t get another win,” Stinson said. “Scarborough’s a well coached team. This league is fun this year.”
“South Portland is off to a great start to their season, they have good size up front and have some very good athletes at tight end, running back and wide receiver,” Johnson said. “They are really aggressive, but sound on defense. We will have to play our best and compete at a high level if we want to have a chance to win Friday night.”
Returning to form
Since losing standout senior quarterback and defender Noah Wolfinger during a home win over Poland on Sept. 12, Cape Elizabeth has struggled mightily, losing one-sided decisions at Wells and at home to Spruce Mountain to fall to 2-2. Saturday, however, the Capers got well quickly when Freeport paid a visit.
Cape Elizabeth shot to a 21-0 lead in the first period behind touchdown runs from Nate Weare and Jack Drinan and a Jeb Boechenstein TD pass to Ben Ekedahl, made it 42-0 at halftime and added a touchdown in the third quarter to go on to a 48-0 win.
The 3-2 Capers (fourth in Western C) have a showdown at 3-2 Yarmouth, ranked fifth, Friday night (see theforecaster.net for game story). Last year, Cape Elizabeth lost at home to the Clippers in the regular season, 27-7, then won a rematch at Yarmouth in the Western C quarterfinals, 27-14.