We’re not even halfway through the 2011 high school football regular season and already there has been an abundance of drama.
Martin Memorial Field has seen more than its share.
After South Portland rallied for a dramatic 20-16 win over Thornton Academy last week, the Red Riots hosted undefeated Sanford last Friday in a game that produced 76 points and came down to the wire.
South Portland was down 7-0 after one period, but drew even on a touchdown run from senior backup quarterback Michael Salvatore. After the Redskins went back on top, 14-7, the Red Riots tied the score on sophomore Joey DiBiase’s fumble recovery in the end zone, then went on top, 21-14, when Salvatore hooked up with senior Logan Gaddar for a touchdown pass.
Sanford pulled even in the third, but Salvatore scored on another TD run for a 28-21 advantage. When senior Dan Medici scored on a short TD run in the fourth, the hosts were up 35-21 and appeared home free.
The Redskins had other ideas, scoring twice to pull within 35-34 with under two minutes to play. The visitors then chose to go for a two-point conversion and the lead instead of playing it conservatively and looking to tie with an extra point. The South Portland defense then rose to the occasion, stopping a run shy of the goal line.
“It was kind of like a basketball situation where we had our timeouts,” said Red Riots coach Steve Stinson. “We saw their formation and thought it might be a toss play. We got to the ball and forced it back.”
The Red Riots then went the other way and took a 42-34 lead when Medici scored on a 7-yard TD run with 1:23 still showing. Sanford could have pulled even with a touchdown and two-point conversion, but it wasn’t to be as DiBiase intercepted a pass and South Portland ran out the clock on its stirring win, improving to 2-1 in the process.
“It went back and forth,” said Stinson. “The kids are playing pretty well right now, but we still have a lot to improve. Putting up 42 points without our starting quarterback and running back was pretty good. We’re coming off two big wins against two playoff-caliber teams. That’s exploded our team chemistry and confidence. We’ve had five good halves and one bad half this season (the second half of a season-opening 59-21 loss at defending state champion Cheverus). The kids are working hard and enjoying positive mojo.”
The Red Riots are home again Friday against another undefeated squad, 3-0 Massabesic. The Mustangs have defeated Portland, Bonny Eagle and Noble this year and will present a challenge in the schools’ first meeting this century.
“Massabesic is very talented,” Stinson said. “They have a very talented quarterback and an all-conference tailback. They run the triple option and the system works. We need to stay disciplined and do our job. We have to cram a lot in this week to plan.
“It’s a big difference between being 2-2 and being 3-1 after this week. We’re coming to play every Friday night. Our nine seniors are getting the team ready during the week.”
Scarborough bounced back from a loss at Sanford with a dominating 42-0 home shutout of Biddeford last Friday, the Red Storm’s third successive win over the Tigers. Senior Scott Thibeault and junior Dillon Russo combined for nearly 300 rushing yards and five TDs, as Thibeault set the tone with an early 55-yard scoring run and Scarborough never looked back. Senior Ben Alper capped the triumph with an interception return for a score.
The Red Storm welcomes Bonny Eagle Friday night. The perennially strong Scots are a stunning 0-3 this fall after losses to Thornton Academy, Massabesic and Cheverus. The last Scarborough-Bonny Eagle meeting resulted in a 44-6 Scots’ win on Oct. 16, 2004.
In Western B, Cape Elizabeth improved to 2-1 with a 33-0 triumph at Lake Region last weekend. The Capers went out to a 19-0 first quarter lead behind scoring runs from Derek Roberts, Donald Clark and Andrew Lavallee. Roberts scored again on the ground in the third period and a scoring run from Connor Maguire put the finishing touches on the victory in the fourth.
Cape Elizabeth has a big home test against 3-0 Falmouth Friday night (the game can be heard locally on 870AM or mainesportsnetwork.com). The Capers have never lost to the Yachtsmen and last year rallied late for an improbable 24-21 home victory.
With senior Max Porter leading the way, South Portland sophomore running back Joey DiBiase hits a hole during Friday’s thrilling 42-34 home win over Sanford.
Red Riots senior Dan Medici ensures a Sanford receiver won’t come down with a catch. South Portland held on late to improve to 2-1 on the year.