Greely’s football team finally met its match Friday night and as a result, another memorable season has come to a close.
The Rangers, who got to the semifinals for the first time in 2015, managed to do it again this fall and surprised a lot of people along the way.
Greely, despite a roster of just 28 players, lost its first two outings, at home against Kennebunk and at two-time defending Class B champion Marshwood.
The Rangers then put it together and defeated Noble, Gorham, Morse, Leavitt and Mt. Ararat in succession, by an average 30-10 margin.
Greely lost its regular season finale, 14-0, at Falmouth in a downpour, but as the No. 6 seed in Class B South, avenged that setback with a 20-7 quarterfinal round victory over the Yachtsmen.
As a result, the Rangers had to go to No. 2 Biddeford, a team they didn’t face this year, for the semifinals Friday.
Greely and Biddeford had no postseason history.
The Tigers seized control early, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter, including one on the game’s first play, for a 14-0 advantage. The hosts then added a pair of field goals (including one from 50 yards) in the second period to take a 20-0 lead to the half.
The Rangers got on the board in the third period when quarterback Nick Gauvin hit Shane DeWolfe with a 39 yard touchdown pass, but Greely would draw no closer.
Biddeford added a safety in the fourth quarter and went on to a 22-6 victory.
“They were too much for us early,” said Greely coach David Higgins. “We were a little stunned on that first play, but the good news is we hung in there and kept battling like we always do. The plays we made the week before against Falmouth we didn’t make this time. We moved the ball in the second half, but we dropped a bunch of passes and showed our youth a little bit.”
Greely’s season ended at 6-4.
“Sitting back and looking at the season, we exceeded expectations and surprised a lot of people,” Higgins said. “The kids bought in and worked really hard. Our success was a tribute to the kids and to the coaching staff. No one can take us for granted, no matter our size. We’re a family and we went to war with what we had.”
The Rangers will lose two-way starters Paul Buchanan and Austin Roy, but return some top playmakers and several other players who saw key minutes in 2016, so don’t be surprised if Greely turns heads again next season.
“It will be interesting to see how many incoming freshmen will play,” Higgins said. “I hear kids saying they’re going to play, but I want to see them in August. We’ll do some assessing and we hope to continue to be a contender.”