With just two weeks remaining in the 2011 high school football regular season, city teams are right in the middle of the action.
At the top, once again, are the Cheverus Stags, the 2010 Class A state champions.
Saturday, the Stags won their sixth game in a row this fall and their 18th in succession, as they completely decimated yet another foe. This time, the victim was winless Biddeford in the first meeting between the schools in many years.
Cheverus went up 7-0 just three plays in when senior quarterback Cam Olson found senior Louie DiStasio for a 60-yard TD. The Stags made it 14-0 later in the first period when Olson found senior Spencer Cooke for a 35-yard scoring pass.
By halftime, the Stags enjoyed a 42-0 advantage, thanks to second period touchdowns from Cooke (7-yard run), junior Brent Green (29-yard run), Cooke (56-yard punt return) and Green (1-yard run).
In the second half, Cheverus’ reserves put the finishing touches on the 56-0 victory as sophomore Will Hilton scored on runs of 7- and 94-yards.
“We had pretty good rhythm,” Stags coach John Wolfgram said. “Cam threw the ball early well. We got a jump on them like we wanted to do. That was the difference pretty much. I thought our execution was good in the first half.”
“We work each week and prepare a ton and it pays off,” DiStasio said. “Coach Wolfgram’s just a great coach. He knows what he’s doing. We knew we had talent, but I don’t know if we expected to go 6-0. We just wanted to come out and defend the hill.”
As expected, the final statistics were mind-boggling.
Cheverus finished with 408 yards of offense, to just 69 for Biddeford (47 of those came in the final period). The Stags had 12 first downs and surrendered just four.
Individually, Hilton wound up rushing 11 times for 150 yards and two scores. Cooke gained 75 yards and a TD on eight carries. He also had a 35-yard TD reception and wound up with 184 all-purpose yards. Olson threw just six times, but completed five of them, good for 117 yards and two TDs. Green caught a pass for five yards and rushed nine times for 65 yards and two TDs.
DiStasio had three catches for 77 yards and a score. He was also 6-for-6 on extra points and if that wasn’t enough, demonstrated his superb athleticism by kicking off a few times with his left foot and still driving the ball deep down the field.
The defense was pretty awesome as well, as junior Ryan Casale had an interception and junior Donald Goodrich pitched in with a sack. Seniors Mike Dedian and Christian Deschenes ensured that the line ruled the day both on offense and defense.
“We came to play,” Deschenes said. “We showed up and dominated the line of scrimmage. We just come to play every day. The D line shows up every week. We make stops. Our linebackers make big stops. We have a lot of three-and-outs.”
Cheverus (which leads the Western A Crabtree Points standings) closes the regular season with games at Portland and Deering.
“We certainly have room for improvement,” Wolfgram said. “We’ll continue to work at things and get better.”
Deering won its first four games, but was coming off a home loss to Thornton Academy when it traveled to Scarborough last Thursday for the teams’ first meeting in seven years.
The Rams appeared to have the win in hand when they scored on their first two drives, culminated by a 10-yard run from senior Trey Thomes and a 20-yard pass from senior quarterback Matt Flaherty to classmate Renaldo Lowry. Deering wouldn’t score again and the Red Storm made it a 14-7 game with a TD in the second period. The Rams didn’t budge from there and fended off several challenges in the second half to hold on for the 14-7 triumph.
“It’s the most complete game we’ve played all year, which is a good thing, bouncing back from a tough, tough game last week,” said Deering’s first-year coach Jon Gallant. “Our kids took what happened to heart and watched film and saw where we needed to improve. They did what they needed to in a short week of practice.”
Thomes, who missed almost all of the 2010 season after suffering a broken arm in the preseason, finished with 110 yards and a TD on his 18 carries.
“Most of my runs went pretty well, I think,” Thomes said. “I’m starting to realize that if I cut upfield, I’ll get more yards.”
Flaherty went 9-for-21 for 109 yards, with a TD and two interceptions. Lowry had four receptions for 47 yards and a TD.
The Rams (third behind Cheverus and South Portland in the Crabtrees) have a big test at red-hot Bonny Eagle Friday, then close at home with the Stags.
“Things are going well,” Thomes said. “We lost one game we shouldn’t have lost. We need to get so everyone plays as a team and get the offense going and put more points on the board.”
“We’ve met one of our goals, to have a winning record,” Gallant said. “Being 5-1 should get us a seat at the table. When you get to that ninth game, it’s a whole new season. Anything can happen. We’ll focus on getting better. It’s not about being the best team in September or in October. It’s about being the best team at the end of October and in November. We have big games coming up. The SMAA is best league in the state. Every week’s a big week. (Bonny Eagle’s) become a great rivalry over the years. We know we’ll get a great game. It should be a lot of fun. We know each other really well.”
The young Portland Bulldogs took a 2-3 record into last Thursday’s pivotal home contest with once-beaten Thornton Academy. A win would have propelled the Bulldogs right into the playoff discussion, but they fell just short.
Portland drove 76 yards to start the game and took a 6-0 lead when sophomore Jayvon Pitts-Young hooked up with senior Seamus Kilbride for a 28-yard TD pass on fourth down for a 6-0 lead. The Golden Trojans answered with a quick touchdown and scored again at the start of the second half to make it 14-6. Undaunted, the Bulldogs made it a 14-12 contest when Pitts-Young scored on a 1-yard keeper late in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs went for two and Pitts-Young found Kilbride all alone in the back of the end zone. After an initial signal that the conversion was good, the official waved it off because Kilbride stepped out of the end zone before coming back in to make the catch.
“I thought the rule in high school was that a player can go out of bounds and come back in if he reestablishes himself,” Portland coach Mike Bailey said. “The official told me that is true on the sideline, but not in the end zone.”
The Bulldogs weren’t able to complete the comeback and fell to 2-4 with the 14-12 loss.
“I’m very, very pleased,” said Bailey. “Even though we did lose, I thought we took some big steps tonight offensively. We hadn’t been scoring points or driving the field and we finally did that. We controlled the clock somewhat, and I was pleased with that, but we made some mistakes at critical times. That’s youth. It’ll come.”
Portland (ninth in the Crabtrees, only eight teams make the playoffs) needs a big win to close the year and has two chances, Friday at home versus Cheverus and the following Friday at home against South Portland.
Freelance writer Tom Minervino contributed to this story
Portland senior Seamus Kilbride hauls in a pass while being defended by Thornton Academy senior John Remmes during Thursday night’s game. Kilbride took the pass in for a touchdown, but Portland fell 14-12.
Deering senior Renaldo Lowry steps in front of Scarborough senior Conor McCann to make an interception that helped clinch Thursday’s 14-7 victory.