Falmouth football falls to York in opener; Yachtsmen put up fight, but lose 27-6
In the first half of Saturday night's season opener, the host Falmouth Yachtsmen football team held its own against the York Wildcats, but in the second half, the Yachtsmen went backwards.
After mustering 130 yards in the first 24 minutes and coming within eight points at the break, Falmouth lost a total of 36 yards in the second half and the Wildcats gradually pulled away to drop the Yachtsmen to 0-1 with a 27-6 decision.
"York played a great game," said Falmouth coach John Fitzsimmons. "They're tough and ran way too much on us.
We'll have to look at the tape and see what we have to solve."
Work in progress
Falmouth is coming off a 6-4 campaign, not only the program's first Class B winning mark, but also a season which saw the Yachtsmen qualify for the postseason for the first time.
Falmouth returns a lot of talent in 2009, but the loss of senior quarterback Stefano Mancini, who opted to focus on basketball, will be a tall obstacle to overcome.
The Yachtsmen did some good things against York, but couldn't solve the Wildcats' strong running attack and were ultimately felled by too many mistakes.
York took the opening kickoff and marched 69 yards on 13 plays, eating up over six minutes in the process. The Wildcats rode workhorse running backs senior Jared Prugar and junior Bradley Stephens to the tune of 62 yards. Twice, the Wildcats converted on fourth down. And, with 5:56 to go in the opening stanza, Prugar raced 22 yards to paydirt, breaking an initial tackle attempt, to put his team ahead. York failed to convert on the extra point, but was up 6-0 before the Yachtsmen ever saw the ball.
Falmouth's first series featured two runs from junior Caleb Bowden for a total of negative-two yards and an incomplete pass from new junior quarterback Zach Alexander.
The Yachtsmen's defense stood its ground on York's next series and forced a punt. The offense then moved down the field on its lone scoring drive.
Alexander got things started with a 21-yard scamper. Later in the drive, Alexander hit promising sophomore receiver Jack Cooleen for nine yards and a first down at Wildcats' 31. On the second play of the second period, Alexander and Cooleen hooked up again, this time on a bomb downfield. Cooleen slipped behind a defender, grabbed the aerial and strolled into the end zone to tie the score. Junior David Goodrich's point-after attempt failed, but with 10:57 to play in the first half, after a seven-play, 70-yard drive, the contest was knotted, 6-6.
York promptly answered, driving 65 yards on eight plays, using up four minutes.
A 10-yard Prugar run brought the Wildcats into Falmouth territory. After Stephens picked up 16 yards, senior Scott Langenheim ran for 22 and a personal foul moved the ball to the 5. Two plays later, Stephens did the honors, taking a pitch to his left, cutting back and scoring. Junior Christopher Cole then found junior Oliver Gray for a two-point conversion and it was 14-6 with 6:44 left in the half.
The remainder of the second period saw the teams trade turnovers. Alexander was intercepted three times, while Cole was intercepted by Alexander and fumbled (recovered by junior Jack Bagonzi).
The Yachtsmen had to feel good about their chances entering the third quarter, but the rest of their night would be a study in frustration.
The hosts got the ball to start the second half, but in an ominous sign of things to come, Alexander was dropped for an 8-yard loss on third-and-four. York went three-and-out as well, but Falmouth lost a yard on three plays on its next series and had to punt again. This time, the Wildcats took advantage and stretched their lead.
York's third scoring drive took 10 plays and almost five minutes to march 52 yards. The big play was a 30-yard Cole-to-sophomore Austin Wallace pass. Two plays later, Prugar barreled in from the 1. The extra point hit the crossbar, but the Wildcats had a 20-6 lead with just over a minute to go in the third.
Falmouth looked to get something going on its next possession, but a 17-yard Alexander-to-senior Sam Bennett pass was wiped out by holding. The Yachtsmen eventually lost 12 yards on the series and had to punt on the first play of the final period.
York then drove 77 yards on nine plays to put it away. An 18-yard run by Stephens got it started. Ultimately, the Wildcats would score through the air as Cole found junior Dillon DellaPasqua for a 26-yard score. Cole made the point-after to make it 27-6 with 7:35 to play.
Falmouth could do nothing with the ball on its final two possessions and the contest came to a close.
"They worked hard," Fitzsimmons said. "We had too many guys out. My starting tackle, offense and defense, was out. Our corner was out. It was a bad way to meet a tough team. When you lose a couple key starters against a tough Class B opponent, it's tough.
"We had some good moments. Cooleen's absolutely the real deal. He did a nice job. Zack Alexander showed good results in his first varsity start. He made some nice plays. He'll learn and get better every week."
Alexander ended up completing 8-of-19 passes for 106 yards and a TD. He was intercepted three times. He also ran for 25 yards on eight rushes. Bowden was held to just 5 yards on five carries. Cooleen caught four passes for 78 yards.
For York, Stephens led the way with 140 yards and a score on 27 carries. Prugar had 69 yards and two TDs on 12 carries. Cole completed 2-of-8 passes for 56 yards, an interception and a score. He also ran five times for 18 yards.
The Wildcats had 269-68 final edge in yardage. York also forced three turnovers, while giving it up twice. Each team had nine penalties (the Yachtsmen gave back 72 yards, while the visitors lost 85).
Falmouth meets Fryeburg Saturday on the road as it looks to get in the win column. A year ago at home, the Yachtsmen defeated the Raiders by a 7-6 margin.
"We'll get better as the season goes along," Fitzsimmons said. "Fryeburg will do a good job. They're rebuilding. They'll be a tough match."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com