(Editor’s note: For the complete Greely-Spruce Mountain game story, with additional photos, please visit theforecaster.net)
The 2011 high school football season is off to a pretty good start as three of the four local teams (and very nearly all four) emerged triumphant in their openers.
The most impressive victory came courtesy third-year program Freeport, which opened with a 21-20 win at Dirigo. Senior Jared Polley had a rushing TD and junior quarterback James Purdy twice found Chris Farley for passing scores, including the go-ahead TD in the final stanza, as the Falcons made an early statement and helped their playoff quest down the line.
“It was huge for us,” said Freeport coach Rob Grover. “(Dirigo) beat us 76-6 two years ago and a lot of these guys played in that game. It was sweet for them to win this game under the lights.
“We were up 14-0, but we started to turn the ball over and they took advantage and we were down 20-14 at halftime,” he added. “We held them to 20 yards in the second half. The kids stepped up. We punched it in with about four minutes to go and took the lead with the extra point. They got a first down on a fourth-and-long, but then we held them. We needed a first down to run out the clock and we got it.”
Freeport has its home opener Saturday (2:30 p.m. kickoff) versus 0-1 Sacopee.
“I believe that (Sacopee) is better than last year,” Grover said. “It’ll be a challenge for us.”
Elsewhere in Western C, the defending state champion Yarmouth Clippers easily rolled to its 13th successive victory, 41-0, at Old Orchard Beach. Two TD runs from senior Anders Overhaug made it 14-0 after one period, then, late in the first half, after a goal-line stand, Overhaug (7 carries, 197 yards and 3 TDs) broke free for a 99-yard scamper. Senior Dennis Erving intercepted a pass in the Yarmouth end zone and took it back 105-yards for a score and junior Caleb Uhl (5-60-1) had a long scoring run to account for the 41-0 final score.
“It was a good start,” said Yarmouth coach Jim Hartman. “We had a couple long runs that were back-breakers. We had 358 yards on 31 carries. After stopping them on the goal line, Anders had the long run and that gave us breathing room. We’re really banged up. A lot of younger kids stepped up. They got better as the game went on. We forced three interceptions and a fumble, but had no turnovers or penalties. For a coach, that’s big. I’m really pleased.”
The Clippers play their home opener Friday at 7 p.m., versus 0-1 Oak Hill (the game can be heard on 870/1470 a.m. and mainesportsradio.com).
“It’s going to be a really tough game,” Hartman said. “They’re big, but we’re faster. We’ll get a test.”
In Western B, Falmouth was very impressive in its first game, crushing visiting Gray-New Gloucester, 65-0, behind a superb team effort. Senior Aaron Rogers returned an interception for a score on the first play of the game and the Yachtsmen were up, 47-0, at halftime. Senior Ryan MacDonald (4 carries, 87 yards) had two rushing TDs and also returned an interception for a score. Junior Alex Derhagopian (3-75) had one rushing TD and two through the air from senior quarterback Matt Kingry (5-of-5, 143 yards), who threw for three scores altogether. Senior Jack Cooleen had the other TD reception. Freshman Jack Zinn (7-70) also rushed for a TD. Junior Will Sipperly led the defense with six tackles and two assists. New senior Mike Ryan had six assists and a sack.
“It was nice to start with a win,” said Falmouth coach John Fitzsimmons. “Gray’s a scrappy squad with low numbers. They’re a couple years away. Our kids stepped up. We had 335 rushing yards and 143 passing. MacDonald had a big night. He did well. I was pleased with our line. They blocked well. It was good for Matt to get the nerves of the way. He had command in the air and good execution on running plays. The defense was very strong. Mike and Chris Leete returned to football this year and played very well.”
The Yachtsmen go to 1-0 Spruce Mountain Friday night. The Phoenix is a first-year program which combines former Class C schools Livermore Falls and Jay.
“They’ll present quite a challenge,” said Fitzsimmons, of the Phoenix. “It’s their first home game. They’re coming off an exciting win. It’s the unknown for us. We have to adjust to a team we haven’t seen.”
Speaking of Spruce Mountain, it ruined Greely’s opener Friday, rallying from a 14-0 deficit, then holding on for a 22-20 triumph over the host Rangers.
Greely went ahead on a pair of TD runs from senior Mike Leeman (the second from 79-yards out), but the Phoenix rallied behind two Bill Calden touchdown scampers in the third quarter to tie the score. Then, in the fourth, Calden raced to paydirt again and a two-point conversion made it 22-14 Spruce Mountain. Undaunted, the Rangers got back within 22-20 when junior Nick Maynard made a diving TD reception from classmate Drew Hodge with 7.3 seconds to go. The hosts then went for the two-point conversion, hoping to force overtime, but after a false start and a defensive pass interference penalty, Hodge threw high and incomplete, giving the Phoenix a 22-20 win.
“I thought we played well,” said Rangers coach David Higgins. “We graduated a lot of kids and the most important thing for us is that they came back in the end and scored that touchdown. We had opportunities on the two-point play and we just couldn’t convert.
“They were just running off tackle and we couldn’t stop it. It’s one of those things we couldn’t stop no matter what coach was calling. It is what it is. They took advantage of it, and good for them, the better team won tonight.”
The Greely Rangers travel to 0-1 Lake Region Friday.
Freelance writer Ryan Robb contributed to this story.
Senior Mike Leeman races into the end zone for a first half touchdown during Greely’s home game versus Spruce Mountain. The Rangers led in the first half and fought hard throughout, but fell to the newly-formed Phoenix, 22-20.
Greely junior receiver Nick Maynard skies to make a reception during Friday’s close loss to Spruce Mountain.