Tough losses for Freeport, Greely football; Yarmouth in the win column, Falmouth improves to 2-1
While the results wound up mixed, all four local football teams played in exciting contests last weekend.
The Yarmouth Clippers shed two-plus years of frustration by enjoying their second-ever varsity victory and their first rout, 56-8 at Traip Academy. Falmouth also emerged victorious, 12-7, at Lake Region to improve to 2-1. Greely dug a 21-0 hole at Gray-New Gloucester then almost rallied, but wound up falling to 1-2 with a 37-21 defeat. Freeport went back-and-forth with established Class C program Madison, but the host Falcons couldn't convert a late drive and suffered a 32-26 setback.
Yarmouth went 0-9 and 1-8 respectively in its first two varsity seasons, then started 0-2 this fall with hard-fought losses to Old Orchard Beach (28-12) and Oak Hill (26-23). Friday afternoon, however, at Traip, everything came together for the Clippers.
Senior standout Brodie Woodson (the league's leading receiver) scored on a 65-yard pass from senior Eric Estabrook on the game's first play. Woodson then intercepted the Traip quarterback on the hosts' first possession and the rout was on. Estabrook and Woodson hooked up for another scoring pass and Estabrook had a short TD run before the first period was over for a 21-0 lead. Woodson, Estabrook and senior Andrew King had rushing TDs in the second period for a 42-6 halftime lead. Woodson returned an interception for a score on the first play of the second half and senior David Dietz capped the victory with a TD run as Yarmouth cruised, 56-8, to improve to 1-2 this year.
"I think the Oak Hill loss really upset the boys and they were tired of losing," said Yarmouth coach Jim Hartman. "Football is a game of matchups and with our speed, it was a bad matchup for (Traip). The boys played well. All the backs ran well. Estabrook played really well. Brodie's been unbelievable. The defense played extremely well. It was the best game for them."
The Clippers hope to even their record Friday night when they host Sacopee (0-3), a first-year varsity program.
"We hope to be 2-2, but it's the ultimate trap game," Hartman said. "If we're not careful, we'll get burned. We're still hoping to make the playoffs."
Falmouth made the playoffs for the first time last year and expects to be in the Western B mix this fall even after senior quarterback Stefano Mancini chose not to play. The Yachtsmen suffered a 27-6 home loss to York in their opener, then won 22-0 at Fryeburg. Friday night, Falmouth proved it has tons of heart as it rallied for a big victory at Lake Region.
The Yachtsmen took an early lead on a field goal from junior David Goodrich, but Lake Region responded with a second period TD to lead 7-3 at the break. Junior Caleb Bowden's short TD run in the third period put Falmouth ahead to stay and the Yachtsmen added a defensive safety in the final minute to improve to 2-1 with the 12-7 victory. Bowden wound up with 115 yards and a score on 21 carries. Junior quarterback Zach Alexander completed 4-of-9 passes for 40 yards. He also rushed for 29 yards on 10 carries. The defense was led by junior Storm McGovern (4.5 tackles), senior Brandon Morrill (4.5 tackles) and junior Greg Oulton (four tackles). Oulton and senior Michael Kane had the tackle which led to the safety. Sophomore Jack Cooleen had a fumble recovery for the Yachtsmen, who are home with undefeated Cape Elizabeth Friday night.
"I'm pleased with the team's progress," said Yachtsmen coach John Fitzsimmons. "We are still a young team with just six seniors. We have players playing new positions, so there is always the learning curve. My quarterback is getting better every week. There is quite an adjustment from JV to varsity starter. He works hard and the team has more confidence in his ability and leadership. Defense is our strong point. Our secondary has speed and each week they are getting better at understanding our defensive schemes. In the last two games, they have had only four passes completed against them. Our best games are just down the road."
A hole too deep
Greely, under new coach David Higgins, lost 21-0 at home to Wells in Week 1, then downed visiting Poland 26-7. Friday night, the Rangers traveled to improved Gray-New Gloucester, a team they had never lost to, beating the Patriots by an average of 50-18 in four prior meetings, including 53-30 last autumn.
Adding spice to the showdown was new Patriots coach Shawn Austin, who coached the Rangers for four seasons.
After a Greely fumble on its second play, Gray-New Gloucester drove 63 yards on 16 plays, chewing up 7:36 to take a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard TD plunge from junior quarterback Heath Martell. Early in the second period, Patriots senior standout Taylor Valente broke free for an 85-yard score. Two minutes later, after another Greely fumble, Valente scored from 4 yards out and it was 21-0 Gray-New Gloucester. Late in the first half, the Rangers finally got their offense going and got in the end zone on a 4-yard TD run from junior quarterback Justin Moore. Right before the half, Martell hit Valente on a 24-yard pass to the Greely 14 and while the Patriots couldn't call timeout to stop the clock, Higgins chose to take a timeout, allowing the hosts to kick a 31-yard field goal at the gun for a 24-7 advantage.
"We weren't ready," Higgins said. "We didn't have enough guys on the field. We needed to
regain our composure. I was hoping we could make the stop. It could
have been a first-year mistake."
Midway through the third, the Rangers cut the deficit to 24-14 on a 4-yard TD run from junior Dan Guidi. After Valente scored on a 17-yard scamper late in the third for a 31-14 lead, Greely again got back to 10, 31-21, when Moore broke free for a 77-yard scoring run with 11 minutes to play. After Junior Jack Fellows' fumble recovery at the Gray-New Gloucester 31, the Rangers had a great chance to draw even closer, but on third-and-4 at the 9, with an open lane to the end zone, Moore slipped and his knee touched down for a three yard loss. On the next play, Greely turned the ball over on downs and Valente added the icing with 2:10 to go when he scored on a 76-yard run to account for the 37-21 final score.
"The kids played well," Higgins said. "We just can't give up 21 points in the first half. We got too far behind. Gray's a good ballclub. They outplayed us. Valente's a good player. Shawn's a good coach. We came back. It was a gutcheck. I think every week we're getting better. The kids are working hard."
Moore finished with 159 yards and two TDs on 16 carries. Two turnovers and four penalties hurt the Rangers' cause. For the hosts, Valente erupted for 281 yards and four scores on 25 attempts. The Patriots outgained Greely, 382 yards to 219.
The Rangers hope to even their record Friday when they host Lake Region (0-3). A year ago, Greely beat the Lakers, 39-6, at Naples.
The first-year Freeport team certainly hasn't been boring. After a 74-6 opening game loss at powerhouse Dirigo, the Falcons earned their first varsity victory in their first home game, 24-6, over fellow first-year program Sacopee. Saturday, Freeport had a great shot to improve to 2-1 against an established team, Madison.
The Falcons struck first on a long TD run from senior standout Miguel Beckles. Madison, which threatened throughout the first half, finally got on the scoreboard with 22 seconds left in the first half when junior Zach White scored a 1-yard run to make it 6-6 at the break.
The second half produced an abundance of highlights.
With 9:38 left in the third period, Beckles broke through the line and outraced the defense to the pylon to complete a 45-yard TD run for a 12-6 lead. The Bulldogs answered and drew even on a 2-yard run from sophomore Travis Emerson, then went up 20-12 on a 63-yard burst from White and a two-point conversion. After a nice kickoff return from Beckles and a personal foul, Freeport senior Calvin Burgess scored on a 27-yard TD run. The two-point conversion failed, but the Falcons were within, 20-18, after three quarters.
After the teams traded punts, Madison went up 26-18 with 7:57 to play when senior quarterback Lucas Libby hit senior Cody Small for a 22-yard score. Undaunted, Freeport answered, driving 44 yards on eight plays to tie the score at 26-26 with 4:36 to go when senior Kyle Moore ran it in from the 6 and freshman quarterback Dylan Purdy added the conversion run.
But two plays later, the Bulldogs got the game winner when Libby launched a long pass downfield and Small out-leaped a defender before running in to complete the 51-yard scoring play. The Falcons had one last chance to answer, but with Beckles hampered with a rib injury and dehydration, Freeport could only move the ball to its 45 before losing it on downs, bringing the curtain down on the 32-26 thriller and dropping the Falcons to 1-2 on the season.
"The kids stepped up," said Freeport coach Rob Grover. "We just couldn't get a defensive stop. Their quarterback's good. It shows we're still learning. We kind of beat ourselves. We should have scored more in the first half. We never gave up. We're slowly progressing. We have to get better at the mental mistakes."
Freeport is at talented Lisbon Friday. The Greyhounds are 3-0 and have surrendered just 18 points all season.
"We'll get ready for Lisbon next," Grover said. "They're tough and it's their homecoming. It won't be easy."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com