SCARBOROUGH—A year ago, Scarborough’s football team hit the midway point with a record of 0-4.
The Red Storm are 3-1 this time around and like their position a whole lot better.
Friday evening at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, Scarborough had its share of trouble with visiting Sanford, but made enough plays on both sides of the ball to increase its win streak to three.
After throwing an interception on his very first pass, Red Storm senior quarterback Jack Hughes settled down and hit sophomore Connor Kelly for a 52-yard touchdown catch and run for a quick 7-0 lead.
A second Hughes interception led to a tying Sanford touchdown, but sophomore Owen Garrard’s 28-yard scoring rush late in the first quarter put Scarborough ahead to stay.
A 34-yard pass from Hughes to Kelly early in the second period extended the Red Storm’s lead, but Scarborough took a safety and the Spartans added a touchdown to make things interesting. Hughes and Company settled down, however, driving 80 yards to paydirt for the fourth time in the half and taking a 28-15 lead on a 26-yard pass from Hughes to junior Tim Carion, an advantage which lasted into the break.
The Red Storm, behind senior Mahlon Glidden, amped up the defense in the second half, not allowing a single point and scoring two, on a Glidden safety, and that combined with one final TD from the offense, a 1-yard Hughes to senior Jake Gardner pass, allowed Scarborough to go on to a 37-15 victory.
Hughes threw for 318 yards and three scores and the Red Storm made it three wins in a row, improved to 3-1 and dropped Sanford to 1-3 in the process.
“It was sloppy at the beginning, then we put it together,” said Scarborough coach Lance Johnson. “I’m proud of how we played. We just have to clean stuff up.”
Both teams entered the 2015 season optimistic.
Sanford started with a 49-0 loss at defending Class A champion Thornton Academy, then dropped a 14-13 heartbreaker at Deering. Last week, the Spartans rose up and blanked visiting South Portland, 25-0.
Scarborough couldn’t dig out of a 20-point hole in its opener, falling at home to Portland, 47-26. The Red Storm then rallied for a palpitating 27-26 win at Bonny Eagle and last week, rolled at Massabesic, 54-14.
The teams met twice last fall. In the regular season opener, Sanford came to Scarborough and won, 29-14. They squared off again in the Western A quarterfinals and the host Red Storm held on for a 42-35 triumph.
That victory gave Scarborough a 6-5 edge in the all-time series.
Friday, on a night that felt more like October than September (kickoff temperature was 56 degrees) the Red Storm won again, thanks to a high-octane offense and a bend-but-don’t-break defense.
Sanford won the opening coin toss, but deferred possession to the second half, Scarborough got the ball at its 15 and on the first play, Hughes threw over the middle, but the ball found Spartans senior Peter Hegarty, who brought it back to the Red Storm 15, seemingly putting the visitors in great position.
After Hegarty was thrown for a loss on first down by Scarborough junior Aren Dickman, he tried again, but Dickman held him to no gain. Junior quarterback Frankie Veino threw incomplete on third down and Sanford settled for a field goal attempt, but Hegarty pushed a 33-yard try wide left.
On his second chance, Hughes drove the Red Storm 80 yards in six plays for the game’s first score.
After an incomplete pass, Hughes hit senior Griffin Madden for 18 yards and a first down. After throwing incomplete, Hughes hooked up with Kelly for 10 yards and after Garrard was held to no gain, setting up fourth-and-inches from the 48, Hughes hooked up with Kelly on a quick out route to the right sideline, Kelly broke a tackle and took off, leaving the defense in his wake en route to a 52-yard score which broke the ice with 9:37 remaining in the first quarter. Junior Emmett Peoples added the extra point for a 7-0 advantage.
Sanford went three-and-out, but after a punt and two incomplete passes, Hughes was picked by sophomore Ethan Emard, who returned the ball 26 yards to the Scarborough 32.
This time, the visitors took advantage, as on the first play, Veino threw a bomb down the left sideline which senior Tya Laviolette hauled in with 7:38 left in the period. Hegarty’s extra point tied the score, 7-7.
Again, Hughes shook off an interception by leading the Red Storm 80 yards in seven plays for the score which put them ahead for good.
After Dickman ran for three yards and Hughes ran for three more, Hughes hit Kelly for 11 yards to move the chains. After Hughes found Kelly for nine, Dickman broke free for 19 yards and a first down at the Sanford 35. After Hughes threw to Gardner for seven yards, Garrard took a handoff and broke free up the middle untouched for a 28-yard score with 5:01 to play in the first. Peoples added the PAT for a 14-7 advantage.
As the first period gave way to the second, the Spartans embarked on a long drive which proved fruitless.
After a 42-yard kickoff return by Roche to the Scarborough 49, runs of eight- and four-yards by senior Zach Kang moved the chains. Kang ran for five more and a five-yard rush by Hegarty set up third-and-inches. Veino gained the yard to move the chains, then hit Laviolette for an apparent game-tying 28-yard score, but the touchdown was called back due to a hold. Veino managed to pick up another first down with a 29-yard throw to Roche, but Hegarty lost three yards and Veino was stuffed for no gain.
On the first play of the second quarter, Veino threw incomplete and Hegarty tried again to boot a field goal, this one from 33 yards, but again he missed, this time wide right.
The Red Storm took advantage by marching 80 yards again, this time on seven plays, to extend their lead.
After junior Anthony Simoneau gained two yards and Hughes threw incomplete, Hughes connected with Gardner for a breathtaking 14-yard completion, with Gardner holding on for dear life after being upended by Hegarty, Simoneau ran for eight yards and Hughes hit Carion for 25 yards and a first down at the Spartans’ 31. After Simoneau was held to no gain, Hughes threw a pass down the right sideline which Kelly hauled in behind a defender for a 31-yard score. Peoples’ extra point with 9:15 to play in the half gave Scarborough a 21-7 lead.
Once again, Sanford drove for naught.
After the ball was twice kicked out of bounds, the Spartans took over at their 37 and Kang broke a pair of tackles for a first down near midfield. Runs of six yards by Hegarty, three yards by Kang and two yards by Hegarty moved the chains again. Three plays later, on third-and-9 from the Red Storm 40, Veino scrambled for 20 and a first down. Three plays after that, on third-and-11, Roche lowered his shoulder and delivered a bruising 13-yard run for a first-and-goal at the 8. Roche ran for three yards on first down, then Hegarty picked up a yard to the 4, but on third down, Hegarty was thrown for a three-yard loss by senior Josh Reed and on fourth down, Veino threw incomplete out of the end zone, ending another threat.
“Our defense gets better every week,” Johnson said. “We had big stands. Our D line in particular is playing better. Those stops were huge. The offense put the defense in a bad situation a couple times and they came through.”
“We didn’t do a good job finishing,” lamented Sanford coach Mike Fallon. “Against a really good team like that, if you leave potential scores off the board, you’ll be in trouble and that’s what happened.”
With 4 minutes to play before halftime, Scarborough started at its 7 and disaster struck as the snap went awry, got past Hughes and rolled out of the end zone for a two-point safety.
By rule, the Red Storm then had to kick the ball back to the Spartans and after Roche returned it 19 yards to the Scarborough 47, Veino ran for four yards, then threw a perfectly placed strike down the right sideline to Roche, who completed the 43-yard catch and run with exactly 3 minutes to go in the half. Hegarty’s extra point was blocked by senior Kyle Russo, but Sanford was back within six, 21-15.
Once again, the Red Storm responded nicely to adversity with another 80-yard drive, their fourth of the night, again in seven plays.
After a Simoneau rush of one yard, Hughes threw a pass which Carion caught in sliding fashion for 27 yards. Runs of nine yards by Simoneau and four by Dickman moved the chains. After Hughes threw incomplete, he found Kelly for 13 yards to the 26 and on the next play, Hughes connected with Carion down the left sideline, with the receiver again making a strong athletic catch for the touchdown. Peoples added the extra point and with 54.8 seconds remaining before halftime, Scarborough’s lead was back to 13.
Sanford tried to answer, but after Roche ran for 10 yards, then picked up 11, Veino was called for an illegal forward pass and an eight-yard Roche run brought the curtain down on a long and action packed first half.
In the first 24 minutes, Scarborough had 313 yards of offense (243 came from the arm of Hughes) to 198 for the Spartans.
Neither offense would be as prolific in the second half and the Red Storm’s defense slammed the door.
Since it deferred to start the game, Sanford got the ball to begin the second half. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty set the Spartans back, but Veino hit senior Ryan Pepin for seven yards, then a pass interference penalty on Scarborough gave Sanford a first down. After Veino scrambled and found Hegarty for eight yards, Veino ran for six yards and a first down, but a holding penalty again pushed the visitors backwards and after an incompletion, Veino was intercepted by Kelly, who returned the ball 42 yards to Sanford’s 38.
The Red Storm took advantage, marching 38 yards in eight plays to extend their lead.
After Hughes moved the chains with a 12-yard keeper, he hit Kelly for a dozen more. A 14-yard pass to Carion set up first-and-goal from the 2. After Garrard was held to no gain and Simoneau ran the ball to the brink of the goal line, Hughes lobbed a pass to his big target, Gardner, and Gardner came down with the pass to complete the 1-yard score with 5:42 to go in the third period. Peoples’ PAT made it 35-15.
Sanford tried to answer as Veino and Laviolette hooked up for 11 yards and Veino connected with Pepin for 31 more and a first down at the Scarborough 27, but four more passes gained just three yards and the Red Storm took over on downs at their 24.
Scarborough got a first down when Hughes hit Kelly for 27 yards down the right sideline, but the drive stalled and on third-and-4, Hughes hit Carion behind the line of scrimmage and Carion fumbled with senior Justyn Nolan recovering for the Spartans at the Sanford 47.
The Spartans got a first down, as Veino hit Laviolette for five yards and Veino ran for six more. A three-yard Veino run, followed by a 10-yard strike to Hegarty moved the ball to the Scarborough 29, but after an incompletion, Veino was picked by Hughes along the far sideline.
The Red Storm started at their 39 and on the final play of the third period, Carion ran for four yards. Garrard picked up five on the first play of the final quarter, but an incomplete pass led to another punt.
Scarborough’s defense rose up and forced a three-and-out, but on the second play of their next drive, the Red Storm gave the ball right back, as Hughes threw his third interception, to Hegarty, who dove and snared the ball at the Sanford 28.
The senior 6-foot-2, 225-pound lineman singlehandedly disrupted the next Spartans’ drive, twice sacking Veino, and Sanford eventually gave the ball up on downs.
Scarborough began at the Sanford 34, but after Hughes ran for six yards, then hit Madden for 17, the Red Storm stalled and a sack on fourth-and-7 from the 7 gave the ball back to the visitors.
With 3:21 to play, the Spartans started from their 16 and again Glidden wrought havoc, this time with points resulting.
After a Veino incompletion, the quarterback dropped back again and Glidden gobbled him up, dropping him at the 1. Veino then went into the shotgun for the snap and upon taking it, he looked up and there was Glidden once more, who wrapped him up for his fourth sack, which also happened to be a a safety and a 37-15 lead with just 2:31 to go.
“I was just playing my game,” Glidden said. “They got tired, but I stayed out and played hard. I did what I was coached to do. I was just playing my keys. I was taught all week that if the guard pulls to get right up there on his tail and I saw the quarterback and tackled him. It felt good to score.”
“You don’t usually see Mahlon much in the beginning, but the longer the game goes, the better he gets,” Johnson said. “He has a motor. He doesn’t get tired.”
Sanford had to kick the ball away and Scarborough never gave it back, as Simoneau’s 10-yard run allowed the hosts to run out the clock on a 37-15 victory that took over two-and-a-half hours of real time to complete.
“We just kept playing our defense,” said Glidden. “We’re the best finishing team. We played the second half just as hard as the first half.”
“We had big stands on defense, especially in the second half,” said Hughes. “We have a lot of experience this year. Last year, we only had two or three returning guys. This year, we have almost the whole team.”
Hughes did throw three interceptions, but he completed 19-of-31 passes for 318 yards and three TDs.
“Three picks isn’t a good night, but the defense played great, so I forgot about them and went out and played D,” Hughes said. “The interceptions didn’t hurt us too bad. I had to put them behind me and move on and play the next play.”
“It seems like we always catch them when their quarterback looks like Tom Brady,” Fallon said. “They had some unbelievable throws and unbelievable catches. At times, it was like, ‘What else can we do defensively?’ Hats off to Scarborough, they were prepared. You have to be spot-on for 48 minutes and we weren’t tonight.”
Kelly led the receiving corps with eight catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Carion had five grabs for 88 yards and a TD. Gardner caught three balls for 22 yards and a score. Madden had three receptions for 43 yards.
“They’re great,” Hughes said, of his receivers. “It’s like anywhere you look, a guy can beat somebody and make a big play. I’m lucky to have those guys. It makes life easy for a quarterback.”
Scarborough finished with 424 yards of offense, with just 109 coming on the ground.
“I’d prefer to line up in the I and run the football and play pass off that, but I feel like I have to take advantage of the kids we’ve got,” Johnson said. “We’ve got a big tight end, good receivers and a quarterback who gets rid of the ball quickly and for the most part, makes good decisions for us. We have to take advantage of who we are.”
The Red Storm turned the ball over four times, but committed just three penalties for 25 yards.
For Sanford, Veino finished 15-of-33 for 199 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran seven times for 50 yards. Roche gained 48 yards on six rushes and caught four passes for 95 yards and a score. Laviolette had four receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown.
The Spartans had 274 yards of offense, but committed two turnovers and were flagged four times for 47 yards.
In light of Thornton Academy’s stunning 24-14 loss at Windham Friday, in a rematch of last year’s state final, it appears the season is more wide open than anyone suspected and the Red Storm and Spartans hope to take advantage.
Sanford returns home Friday to meet 2-2 Lewiston.
“We didn’t play as well tonight as we have the past two weeks, but it’s not a step back,” said Fallon. “We have a bunch of great kids. They’ll rally and work hard and we’ll get better and hopefully get back on the ‘W’ side here soon.”
Scarborough faces its biggest test of the year Saturday when it goes to 3-1 Thornton Academy. The Red Storm lost twice to the Golden Trojans last fall, 54-0 in the regular season and 50-20 in the playoffs.
Rest assured, Thornton Academy will be more than fired up for that game (it’s also the Golden Trojans’ Homecoming weekend), but Scarborough will take its chances.
“We have to fix some things on offense and tighten up on defense,” said Hughes. “We have to play sound football overall.”
“We have to watch film,” Johnson said. “We’ll see what we think we have in way of matchups. They’re very good and sound in all phases of the game. We’ll play to our strengths and try to take advantage of some matchups we like.”
Scarborough sophomore Owen Garrard (42) is congratulated by (from left) senior Josh Reed and sophomore Anthony Griffin after his first quarter touchdown in Friday’s showdown versus Sanford. The Red Storm went on to a 37-15 victory, their third in a row.
Mike Strout photos.
Scarborough senior Jack Hughes drops back to pass as sophomore Anthony Griffin blocks Sanford sophomore Michael Lunny.
Scarborough junior Anthony Simoneau brings down Sanford senior James Roche.
Scarborough senior Jake Gardner goes up to make a catch as Sanford senior Peter Hegarty defends…
Hegarty sends Gardner flying…
But Gardner holds on and makes the catch.
Scarborough junior Tim Carion is brought down by Sanford junior Nick Howard.
Scarborough sophomore Connor Kelly catches a touchdown pass as Sanford sophomore Ethan Emard tries in vain to prevent it.
Sa- 7 8 0 0- 15
Sc- 14 14 7 2- 37
Sc- Kelly 52 pass from Hughes (Peoples kick)
Sa- Laviolette 32 pass from Veino (Hegarty kick)
Sc- Garrard 28 run (Peoples kick)
Sc- Kelly 34 pass from Hughes (Peoples kick)
Sa- Safety, Scarborough snapped ball out of end zone
Sa- Roche 43 pass from Veino (kick blocked)
Sc- Carion 26 pass from Hughes (Peoples kick)
Sc- Gardner 1 pass from Hughes (Peoples kick)
Sc- Safety, Glidden sacked Veino in end zone