Rivalry week has arrived on the gridiron
(For the complete Greely-Cony game story, including additional photos and a deatiled box score, please see theforecaster.net)
The most intriguing week on the high school football slate, rivalry week, has arrived and all four local teams go into their respective showdowns on a high note.
Last weekend, Falmouth won at Mt. Ararat, 20-7, Freeport enjoyed its first ever trip to Mountain Valley, prevailing, 20-8, Greely surprised many with a palpitating 35-21 home win over high-flying Cony, and Yarmouth avoided a letdown with a 41-14 triumph at Poland.
No one thrives on being picked against quite like the Greely Rangers. With most "experts" picking Cony last weekend, the Rangers' bend-but-don't-break defense helped hold Cony's standout senior quarterback Ben Lucas in check and Greely's sophomore signal caller, Matt Pisini, proved that he's not too shabby himself.
Pisini ran for 168 yards and two scores and threw for 156 yards and two more TDs and got plenty of help from bruising senior fullback James Ferrar, who gained 170 yards and scored one touchdown.
Greely was down, 7-0, early and after getting on the board on a 4-yard Ferrar run, trailed 14-6 just before halftime, but in the play that turned momentum the Rangers' way for good, Pisini found senior Will Peck for a 27-yard score with just 7.4 seconds left and after Pisini hit sophomore Sam Peck for the ensuing two-point conversion pass, Greely was all even at the break.
"It wasn't supposed to be a deep pass, but they didn't have a safety over the top and I knew Matty would spot me," Peck said. "I got behind the coverage, caught it and it turned out to be a really big play for us. Matt's one of the best we've ever had at Greely. I think he showed he's right up there."
The Rangers then rode that wave into the third period, where a 13-yard Pisini-to-Sam Peck TD pass gave them the lead for good and a 38-yard Pisini burst pushed the advantage to 28-14. When Pisini scored one final time, on a 43-yard scamper with 5:22 to play, the win appeared locked up, but Lucas demonstrated just how quickly he can lead his team down the field and made things interesting with a TD pass with 2:22 showing. Cony wasn't able to come up with the ensuing onsides kick, however, and Ferrar ran out the clock as Greely prevailed, 35-21, improving to 4-3 on the season, dropping the Rams to 5-2 in the process.
"It wasn't over until the clock ran out," Ferrar said. "A lot of teams lose a couple and break apart, but this was just the best. We showed people who the Greely Rangers are."
"We focused primarily on defense this week," Pisini said. "That's where we played hard and we made a lot of big plays. That momentum brings us into offense and it makes things much easier. We stepped it up on defense."
"I'm so excited I can't even talk," added Rangers coach David Higgins. "We're so elated. The kids came and played. Everybody stepped up. We had some kids who haven't played all year come and play great. It was a complete team effort."
Greely (fifth in Western B) goes to rival Falmouth for its finale Friday, a showdown better known as the "Battle of Route 9." The Rangers are hoping to win, leapfrog Westbrook for the No. 4 spot and earn a home game for the quarterfinals.
"The kids are aware of who's next," Higgins said. "It would be awesome to get a home playoff game."
Falmouth will be eager to take its shot at Greely after improving to 5-2 with last week's win at Mt. Ararat. After a scoreless first period, the Eagles scored first, but the Yachtsmen went ahead, 8-7, at halftime thanks to a Storm Covens TD run and a two-point conversion rush from Noah Nelson. The game remained 8-7 going to the fourth period, where Falmouth finally got some breathing room on a Nelson to Connor Aube touchdown pass and a Nelson TD run.
The Yachtsmen (sixth in Western B) appear playoff-bound, but could move up if they beat Greely Friday. Last year, the Rangers prevailed, 28-6, in Falmouth.
After winning the 2010 and 2011 Class C championships, Yarmouth took a step back last fall, but the Clippers have rounded back into the form which could elevate them to the top. Coming off an inspirational win at Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth was tested by Poland, but took advantage of some late turnovers to pull away. After a scoreless first period, Matt Woodbury (21 carries, 100 yards) ran for a 12-yard touchdown and Matt Klepinger had a 2-yard TD run to make it 13-0 at halftime. After the Knights pulled within 13-8, Brady Neujahr's 3-yard run pushed the lead back to 20-8. Poland then scored on a kickoff return to make it a very uncomfortable 20-14 in the fourth quarter, but Thomas Lord ran it in from 2-yards out, Cody Cook returned a fumble for a score and Lucas Uhl capped the 41-14 win with a 2-yard run, as the Clippers improved to 5-2, good for fourth in the Western C Crabtrees.
Yarmouth hopes to lock up a home playoff game when it hosts Freeport Friday night in the "Battle of the Bay."
Speaking of the Falcons, they went to the most storied setting in Maine high school football, Hosmer Field in Rumford, and beat Mountain Valley in the schools' first meeting on the gridiron. Joe Nixon, David Schaedler and Pete LaMagna all scored touchdowns as Freeport led the whole way and won, 20-8.
Freeport (4-3 and sixth in Western C) hopes to secure a playoff spot and beat Yarmouth for the first time Friday night. Last year, the Falcons were on the brink of doing so, but the visiting Clippers rallied late to prevail, 14-8.
The playoffs begin Friday, Nov. 1 and Saturday, Nov. 2, with games played on the field of the higher seeds.