Cheverus Cookes up another big win
STANDISH — Cheverus put up half a dozen touchdowns Friday night and Spencer Cooke played an integral role in each one of them.
The senior tailback and defensive back ran for four scores, threw for one and returned an interception for another to lead the defending Class A champion Stags to a 42-18 road win over Bonny Eagle.
Cheverus improved to 3-0 on the season and extended its winning streak to 15 games. The Scots, perennial contenders and winners of four state championships since 2004, are 0-3.
Though Bonny Eagle is off to a tough start, the Stags didn’t need any extra motivation to get up for the game. They knew they’d be in for a battle.
“This was a big game for us,” said Cheverus coach John Wolfgram. “They’re a tough team. They’re tough at home. They’re the best team of this decade. It wasn’t tough getting our players ready for this game.”
The Stags seized control early, jumping ahead 21-0 midway through the second quarter.
Cheverus punted away its first possession after failing to pick up a first down, but Cooke quickly got the Stags on the board the second time they touched the ball. Cheverus took over with good field position at the Bonny Eagle 49. After junior Donald Goodrich ran for 11 yards on first down, Cooke broke free and scampered down the left sideline for a 38-yard touchdown. Senior Louie DiStasio added the first of his six extra points to make it 7-0 with 4:43 left in the first quarter.
It didn’t take long for Cheverus to add to the lead. The defense quickly forced Bonny Eagle into its third punt of the opening quarter. Goodrich blocked it, giving the Stags a first-and-goal from the 10. On the next play, Cooke hit junior Jackson McMann for a 10-yard touchdown on a halfback pass — a little unexpected razzle-dazzle from the generally conservative Cheverus offense.
“It was kind of surprising,” Cooke said of his first-ever TD pass. “I didn’t know if I was going to get it intercepted or not. I didn’t want to turn over the ball. We’re more of a smash-mouth team. We’re going to run it past you. But we have some hiccups in there.”
DiStasio's PAT made it 14-0 with 3:39 left in the first quarter.
After Bonny Eagle turned the ball over on downs on its next possession, the teams traded punts to open the second quarter. Facing fourth-and-8 from the Bonny Eagle 40, Cheverus elected to play for field position and senior Cam Olson skied a punt that Bonny Eagle fumbled deep in its own territory. The Stags took over at the Scots' 7 and Cooke ran in from there. It was 21-0 with 7:15 left in the half.
Bonny Eagle answered quickly as senior Matt Burnell picked up a couple jarring blocks inside before breaking away for a 66-yard touchdown run. The conversion attempt failed and it was 21-6 with 5:58 to go in the half.
A 30-yard return by McMann on the ensuing kickoff gave Cheverus the ball at its 45. Junior Brent Green picked up 11 on first down to cross into Bonny Eagle territory. Three plays later, Olson connected with Goodrich down the left side for a 31-yard gain down to the Bonny Eagle 11. Cooke got the first-down carry, broke through a crowd at the line of scrimmage, and appeared to be in for another score, but bobbled the ball as he crossed the goal line and fumbled out of the end zone, giving the Scots the ball on a touchback.
Cooke soon made amends. On Bonny Eagle’s next drive, he intercepted a pass by junior Tyson Goodale and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown to give Cheverus a 28-6 lead just before halftime.
The Scots forced Cheverus to punt to open the third quarter, then marched 77 yards on 10 plays, the final seven being QB keepers by Goodale that covered 63 yards. Goodale ran in from a yard out to make it 28-12 (the conversion run failed) with 3:19 left in the third.
Bonny Eagle couldn’t maintain the momentum, as Cheverus responded with nine-play drive of its own. Cooke, Green and Olson all contributed big chunks on the ground. On fourth-and-1 from the Bonny Eagle 16, Cooke broke a tackle behind the line of scrimmage and bounced outside for his third touchdown run of the game. With the kick, it was 35-12 with 11:13 to go.
The Scots simply had no answer for Cooke, who finished with 141 yards on 16 carries.
“For a tall kid, he runs with good body lean,” Bonny Eagle coach Kevin Cooper said. “He always seems to be going forward. When you tackle him, he always falls and gets more yards. He keeps his feet going. He ends up breaking tackles and making plays.”
Bonny Eagle wasn’t done yet, as Goodale led another long drive to the end zone. This one went 75 yards on 13 plays, with Goodale running in from the 6 to cap it off and cut the deficit to 35-18 (the conversion pass failed) with 6:32 left.
“Their coaching staff does a great job on offense,” Wolfgram said. “We couldn’t put them away. We’d make some plays and get ahead, then they’d come back and make plays. I thought our kids were resilient. That was key.”
Cheverus covered an onsides kick, but fumbled the ball away three plays later. The Scots took over in Cheverus territory, but fumbled it right back two plays later. After two short runs by the Stags, Cooke took a pitch on third-and-3 and ran down the left side for a 44-yard score to finally put the game away. With the kick, it was 42-18 with 3:16 to go.
“The offensive line blocked great tonight,” Cooke said. “I just followed them and scored.”
One of those linemen laughed and shook his head when asked about Cooke’s performance.
“He had a heck of a game,” said senior captain and two-way tackle Christian Deschenes, who was caked in dirt and blood after the game. “He always does though. I just expect it from him now.”
While Bonny Eagle did have some success offensively — especially on the ground in the second half — the Cheverus defense was able to take away the big plays in the passing game.
“We wanted to shut down their pass game because they can pass really well,” Cooke said. “Their run game was second.”
“That was a key, keeping it in front and making them run the field,” Wolfgram said.
Cooper said there’s a simple reason why Cheverus is again undefeated and looking like a top contender.
“They’ve got a bunch of kids that really play hard,” he said. “Because of that, they end up, as the course of the game goes on, making plays to win football games. That’s the mark of a good team. That’s something we’re trying to get to. We’re not a consistent football team like Cheverus is. That’s why they’re real good. That’s why they’re defending state champs.”
The Stags are back in action on Saturday, hosting Sanford (2-1) at Boulos Stadium at 12:30 p.m.