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SCARBOROUGH—After seven years in the Class A wilderness, the Scarborough football team has arrived.
Friday night, fittingly with stormy weather as a backdrop, the Red Storm ensured their best finish since moving up to Class A in 2003 and solidified their claim as a top contender with a decisive 33-0 home victory over Gorham.
Scarborough broke open a tight game at halftime behind its secret weapon, sophomore Dillion Russo (who sparkled in the “Wildcat” as quarterback), scoring 20 points in the third period as it improved to 4-1, dropping the Rams to 0-5.
“This is the first time we’ve had four wins in Class A,” said first-year Scarborough coach Lance Johnson. “It’s something we talked about all week. The kids were fired up to come out and take control of the game.”
After winning just 12 times in seven previous Class A seasons, the Red Storm are becoming something special. Scarborough opened with a inspirational 33-29 come-from-behind victory at Massabesic. Then, after falling, 33-7, at perennial power Thornton Academy, in a game closer than the final score indicated. Scarborough blanked visiting Sanford, 14-0, then held off host Biddeford at historic Waterhouse Field, 21-9. In that one, Red Storm senior running back extraordinaire Zach Bean was felled with an injury and will be out for at least a couple weeks. His absence forced Johnson to get creative on offense (more on that in a moment).
Gorham was seeking its first win in five tries after losing to Cheverus, Deering, Windham and Westbrook.
The Red Storm and Rams were one-time Class B rivals and had met just three prior times in Class A. A year ago, host Gorham punished Scarborough, 52-14, but Friday night’s contest would be far different as the Red Storm beat the Rams for the first time since the 2002 Western B semifinals (34-0).
With rain falling, the hosts went three-and-out in their initial series, but the Scarborough defense returned the favor and forced a Gorham punt. The Red Storm appeared to have a drive going on their second possession, but a 13-yard run from senior Scott Merrill was wiped out by a holding penalty. Scarborough would pick up a first down, but eventually had to punt.
The Rams took over at their 47 with 3:46 to go in the first and proceeded to chew up over seven minutes, running 15 plays before the Red Storm made a stand.
Strong running from junior Nick Kilborn, senior Kamron Alexander and senior Stephen Verrill helped Gorham pick up three first downs and move as far as the Scarborough 10 before a false start moved the Rams back five yards. On fourth-and-5 from the 10, senior quarterback Joey Lynch attempted a rare pass and Red Storm senior Mike Cyr came up huge, intercepting the throw and returning it 50 yards to deny Gorham’s lone serious scoring threat.
“I just tried to read the play,” Cyr said. “I saw the quarterback roll out. I was in the right place. I was lucky.”
“They drove the field, but we made a stand when we had to,” Johnson said. “We changed the defense a little bit and I think we stymied them a little bit. That was a big play by Mike Cyr.”
Scarborough wasn’t able to do anything on offense, giving the ball away on downs at the Gorham 19, but the Rams went three-and-out and when Peters attempted to punt, he kicked nothing but air and the Red Storm took over at the Gorham 24 with 4:09 remaining in the half.
This time, the Red Storm capitalized and got in the end zone.
After a 24-yard TD run from Merrill was called back due to holding, junior Scott Thibeault gained 3 yards.
Russo then made his presence felt. He first ran for three yards setting up a third-and-11, then dropped back and launched a rainbow pass through the raindrops to Cyr in the end zone. Cyr made a great diving catch and Scarborough was ahead to stay.
“I was a little nervous, but everyone encouraged me,” Russo said. “It was a great catch.”
“I got behind the safety and just went up and got the ball,” said Cyr. “(The rain) was a little bit tough, but we’re the Storm. This is our kind of weather.”
Senior Nathan Provencher added the extra point and Scarborough took a 7-0 lead into halftime.
The Red Storm only outgained the Rams 60-56 in the first half, but would open things up big time in the second half.
After Scarborough forced a Gorham punt to set the tone, junior Matt Brown got in on the offense, gaining 31 yards to the Rams’ 38 on his first carry. Three plays later, on fourth-and-4 from the 32, Russo showed his running ability, racing up the gut into the end zone for a 32-yard TD and a 13-0 lead with 7:41 remaining in the quarter.
Gorham turned the ball over on downs on its next series and the Red Storm began at the Rams’ 47. After Merrill ran for 3 yards and senior Jack Adams, the regular quarterback, threw incomplete, Russo went back to pass again and hooked up with junior Conor McCann on a 44-yard scoring throw. McCann made a nice adjustment to the ball and outran the secondary to paydirt. Provencher’s extra point made it 20-0 Scarborough with 3:38 left in the third.
The visitors fumbled the ball away on the first play of their next possession and Thibeault pounced on it at the Gorham 13. After a 13-yard run from senior Mark Pearson was called back due to holding, it took Scarborough four plays to score. This time, Adams got involved, hitting Cyr from 18-yards out with 59.5 seconds left. Provencher’s extra point gave Scarborough a 27-0 lead and capped a dominant quarter which saw the hosts outgain the Rams, 129 yards to 33.
“We tried to put the game away with the wind in the third,” Johnson said. “The kids were motivated to do that.”
Early in the fourth, the Red Storm moved from their 6 all the way down the field to a final touchdown. A 33 yard Russo scamper moved the ball into Gorham territory. Russo later ran for 32 yards to set up a first-and-goal. Two plays later, Russo finished the drive with a 7-yard TD run to make it 33-0.
Scarborough’s defense put on the finishing touches and the Red Storm put their third successive victory in the books.
“We’re the Storm and the storm’s followed us this year,” Johnson said. “This is the third game we’ve played in weather like this, but the kids believe we have stuff we can do regardless of the weather.”
Russo was the story, rushing nine times for 115 yards and two TDs, while completing both pass attempts for 69 yards and two scores.
“The line opened up holes,” he said. “They threw great blocks. We knew we had to come out firing in the second half and it worked out for us.”
“I didn’t have anybody with experience to run the Wildcat with Zach injured, so (Dillion) stepped in,” Johnson said. “He’s a heady kid. He makes a lot of big plays.”
Cyr had two receptions, both for TDs, good for 43 yards. He also ran four times for 23 yards. Adams completed 2-of-6 passes for 14 yards and a TD.
Scarborough outgained Gorham in the second half, 253 yards to 41, and for the game (313-97). The Red Storm forced two turnovers and didn’t give the ball away on a night ripe for miscues. Scarborough was flagged four times for 34 yards.
For Gorham, Kilborn finished with 58 yards on 14 attempts. Alexander gained 33 yards on 14 tries.
The Rams will hope to get in the win column next Friday when they host 1-4 Portland.
The Red Storm have a great shot to run the table and get a high playoff seed. Next Friday, Scarborough hosts Noble in the home finale. It then goes to struggling Marshwood and Kennebunk.
For this resurgent program, the sky’s the limit.
“We have to stay focused and work hard in practice and everything will work out,” Russo said.
“We have to keep working hard and be consistent and get better,” Johnson said. “The kids have come along in being a disciplined team. We have to keep getting better.”
“I’ve never been with a better group of guys,” added Cyr. “We have great chemistry. Everything’s coming together at once. Zach’s a great player. It’s tough without him. Guys had to stay mentally tough. Expectations were low after last year. Everyone knew we could do better. We put in the work in the offseason. We have an attitude of expecting to win. We won’t underestimate anyone. We’ll keep working hard. It’s a big goal to make the playoffs in our senior year. We have confidence.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scarborough seniors Dennis Liu (left) and Scott Merrill combine to slow a Gorham ball carrier Friday. The Red Storm pitched their second shutout in three weeks.
Scarborough senior Jack Adams hands off to classmate Mark Pearson in the second half. The Red Storm moved the ball on the ground and through the air, whether Adams or sophomore Dillon Russo was behind center.
Seniors Will Lynch (79) and Mark Pearson (20) lead the way for junior Matt Brown.
Scarborough sophomore Dillon Russo floats a pass over Gorham freshman Darrick Peters Friday. Russo, a former JV player, threw a pair of TD strikes.
Scarborough sophomore Dillon Russo races for paydirt in the third period. Russo ran for two touchdowns and threw for two others to help the Red Storm improve to 4-1 with a 33-0 home win over Gorham Friday night.
More photos below.
G- 0 0 0 0- 0
S- 0 7 20 6- 33
S- Cyr 25 pass from Russo (Provencher kick)
S- Russo 32 run (pass failed)
S- McCann 42 pass from Russo (Provencher kick)
S- Cyr 18 pass from Adams (Provencher kick)
S- Russo 7 run (kick failed)