(Ed. Note: For the complete Cheverus-Sanford game story, with photos and a box score, please visit theforecaster.net)
Friday night’s showdown wasn’t just any Deering-Portland football game.
No, it was one for the record books, the 100th all-time (non-Thanksgiving Day) showdown and it went the way of the home team, as the Rams improved to 4-0 with a 28-7 victory over the now 2-2 Bulldogs.
Deering had downed visiting Noble and won at Windham and Kennebunk to start the year. Portland, meanwhile, was blanked at Massbesic in the opener, then rolled to a win at Noble and held off visiting Gorham.
The Bulldogs entered Friday’s contest with a 61-28 edge over the Rams, with the other 10 meetings ending in ties. The series dates to 1891. Included in that tally are three playoff games (Portland won in 2001 and 2002, while Deering eliminated the Bulldogs in 2003).
Portland hung tough for a quarter and the game was scoreless in the second period when the Rams got the jump, thanks to their special teams. Trey Thomes returned a blocked punt 51-yards to break the ice and Brandon Saucier added an extra point to make it 7-0 with 9:31 left in the first half.
Deering went up 14-0 thanks to a 19-yard touchdown pass from Matt Flaherty to Matt Kimball with 4:26 remaining before halftime.
Two minutes into the third period, Nick DiBiase’s 1-yard TD run stretched the Rams’ lead to 21-0.
The Bulldogs got on the board with 1:32 to go in the third when Jayvon Pitts-Young scored on a 14-yard run, but Deering accounted for the 28-7 final score when Flaherty hit Renaldo Lowry for a 37-yard TD with 9:48 left to play.
The Rams hope to improve to 5-0 Friday when they host 3-1 Thornton Academy.
Portland looks to go back over the .500 mark Friday when it visits 1-3 Windham.
Elsewhere, defending Class A state champion Cheverus remains perfect and extended its win streak to 16 games Saturday with an emphatic 41-8 home romp over Sanford.
The Stags opened the year with a 59-21 home victory over South Portland, then rolled at Gorham (35-0) and Bonny Eagle (42-18).
Saturday, Cheverus made the most of its return home, taking the opening kickoff and driving for a 39-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Cam Olson to senior Louie DiStasio. Senior Spencer Cooke added a 17-yard TD run and it was 14-0 Stags after one quarter.
In the second period, Cooke scored on a 4-yard run and Olson hooked up with DiStasio (38-yards) and Cooke (24-yards) for TDs and a 35-0 lead at the break.
Cheverus removed its starters in the third quarter and the reserves struck once more, on an 18-yard run from sophomore Will Hilton. Sanford finally got on the board in the fourth, but the Stags went on for the 41-8 triumph.
“Sanford’s a good football team,” said Stags coach John Wolfgram. “I thought we showed versatility and were efficient. I thought we played with good emotion. It definitely was a positive game for us.”
Olson finished 9-of-11 for 228 yards and three scores and acknowledged that while Saturday was his moment to shine, that Cheverus’ bread and butter is still the running game.
“The most important thing my coaches advocate for me is stepping into a throw,” Olson said. “When you step into a throw, it’s easy. We were on the right page today. It’s always about the running game. It’s never not going to be. (Coach Wolfgram) sets us up in a great position to have the running game down, then switch to something else. He’s the mastermind and always has been.”
“(Cam’s) a smart football player and he played very well,” Wolfgram added. “He knows what he’s doing. He was very accurate. He made good decisions.”
DiStasio caught four passes for 146 yards and two TDs.
Cheverus looks to keep on keeping on when it welcomes 2-2 Scarborough in a rematch of last year’s regional semifinal playoff thriller (won by the Stags, 21-14). That game is Saturday with a special start time of 3:30 p.m., due to SAT testing.
A home game against Biddeford and trips to city rivals Portland and Deering still loom in the regular season.
“I don’t want to make any predictions,” Olson said. “We play extremely competitive teams, they’re contenders. We know every single week is a new challenge. We play 100 percent all the time. There’s always stuff to work on, either with blocking, coverage, defense, whatever it happens to be. We know Scarborough will be a tough competitor. We know what we’re facing.”
Portland junior Nick Volger looks to break out of a tackle during the Bulldogs’ 28-7 loss at Deering Friday night.
Deering’s Matt Flaherty attempts a pass during the Rams’ 28-7 home win over Portland Friday night.
Cheverus junior Lucas Richio bounces off a Sanford tackler on a third quarter carry. The Stags ran wild on the Redskins and rolled, 41-8.