After its most memorable regular season in eight years, marred only by a closer-than-the-score-indicated 33-7 home loss to Thornton Academy in Week 2, the Scarborough football team is preparing to take part in the Class A postseason for the first time.
Last Friday night, the Red Storm capped a dazzling 7-1 campaign with a hard-fought 41-35 victory at Kennebunk. This one was back-and-forth throughout. Scarborough trailed 7-0 early, went up 13-7 after one behind two TD passes from senior Jack Adams to classmate Dennis Liu, then, despite an Adams to senior Kyle Kelley TD pass, found itself tied at the half, 21-21. Twice in the second half, the Red Storm trailed, but each time they rallied. TD runs from junior Scott Thibeault and senior Mark Pearson helped them hold on, 41-35.
“The Kennebunk game was a very exciting game for our football team,” said Scarborough’s very successful first-year coach Lance Johnson. “It gave us a chance to reverse our record from last year and keep our momentum going for the playoffs. Kennebunk played extremely well on their Homecoming and Senior night. They are one of the few teams this year in the SMAA who are proficient at throwing and catching the ball. We have plenty to work on this week in practice defensively. Offensively we did what we wanted and rolled up 364 rushing yards and 150 passing. We only had to punt one time and scored when we had to at the end of the game. Mark Pearson rushed for 172 yards on only 16 carries with two TDs, Scott Thibeault rushed for 90 yards on 10 carries with one TD. Jack Adams was 7-for-14 for 150 yards and three TD passes and (senior) Mike Cyr had three catches for 87 yards and two TDs.
“What making the playoffs means for our players is that good things happen to good players who are coachable and who work hard. Our 22 seniors kept working hard through two very difficult seasons of varsity football. They continued to lift and condition in the offseason and prepare for success. Making the playoffs was one of our goals starting last spring. Our seniors have been very resilient and diligent. They have led by example all year. I think making the playoffs is a turning point for Scarborough football. The school administration, community and parental support for our team has been amazing and everything is in place for continued success.”
The Red Storm (Class B champions in 2002) will make their Western A playoff debut Saturday at 1 p.m. at No. 4 Biddeford (7-1), which is coming off an inspirational win over rival Thornton Academy. The teams met back on Sept. 24 and Scarborough earned a 21-9 victory at Waterhouse Field, the site of this showdown. The schools have never played in the postseason.
“The matchup with Biddeford at Waterhouse Field will be a great challenge for our team,” said Johnson. “The Tigers are led by a seasoned and tough group of seniors. Biddeford has had one of their best seasons in years and is not going to want to walk off Waterhouse Field in defeat. Our players are very excited to be practicing for playoff football and look forward to the opportunity to go to Biddeford and compete on Saturday. We are getting healthier every week and have built much more depth at our skill positions as the season has progressed.”
Work to do
Cape Elizabeth, last year’s Western B champ, enters its finale at Mountain Valley at 6-2, but isn’t guaranteed a playoff spot.
Coming off an overtime setback at Greely, the Capers fell behind visiting Lake Region, 13-0, last Friday, but rallied for a 28-13 victory behind a punt return for a score and a TD run from junior quarterback Derek Roberts and short TD runs from senior Jack McDonald and junior Andrew Lavallee.
“Lake Region was a very good football team with some players who fought hard the entire game,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Aaron Filieo. “We made some early mistakes which they took advantage of and put ourselves in a hole. I like the way the guys have fought and scratched all season long. In two games this season we battled to the end but eventually ran out of bullets. (Friday) we had enough to end up on the winning side.”
The Capers need a win at 8-0 Mountain Valley, their familiar rival (and documentary movie co-star) over the past four years, to ensure a playoff spot. Last year, Cape Elizabeth swept the Falcons, who have the top spot in Western B locked up. If the Capers lose and Falmouth wins at Greely Friday, those three teams would all be 6-3 and a coin toss to determine which two make the playoff cut and which goes home could be necessary at the first of the week.
“Mountain Valley presents a great challenge for us,” Filieo said. “The are playing at a very high level, consistent and mistake-free. We love playing in Rumford in late October. It’s emblematic of high school football. Obviously, our goal is to win and secure a playoff spot.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org