Ten miles away, at Yarmouth High School, site of the Western C Final, the updates came fast and furious.
Deering 6 Cheverus 0.
Seemingly seconds later: Cheverus 7 Deering 6.
Cheverus 14 Deering 6.
Cheverus 20 Deering 6, make that, 22-6.
Cheverus 29 Deering 6.
At that point, it appeared the Stags were going to pummel the visiting Rams as they did in the regular season finale, 44-14, on Oct. 23.
Even when Deering scored a TD late in the first half to make it 29-12, there weren’t many outside of those bleeding purple and white who thought Cheverus and legendary coach John Wolfgram would blow a 23-point lead at home in a regional final.
But they would.
As the Clippers were beginning a comeback in Yarmouth, the texts increased in intensity and improbability.
Cheverus 29 Deering 20
Cheverus 29 Deering 27
Deering 34 Cheverus 29
This in just a matter of minutes.
In a sense, the game was a microcosm of the teams’ seasons. Coming into 2010, Deering got virtually no respect or love (save our fall preview), but behind the wizardry of senior standout quarterback Jamie Ross, rose to the occasion time and again, winning six of eight contests to earn the No. 3 seed. After drubbing No. 6 Thornton Academy in the quarterfinals, then upsetting No. 2 Bonny Eagle behind an overwhelming defensive performance in the semis, many still thought the Rams would fall again to their city rival.
Cheverus, a regional finalist in 2009, rolled through the early part of its schedule, then passed stern tests from Portland and Bonny Eagle to finish undefeated. The Stags received mighty scares from Windham and Scarborough in their first two playoff games, but found a way to survive and advance.
It happened once more Saturday.
Just moments before Yarmouth took the lead in its game, word came that with a mere 30 seconds to play, Cheverus had gone ahead of Deering, 35-34, but had failed the two-point conversion.
The first thought going through the mind of this reporter, however, was that too much time remained for Ross to weave his magic.
And he almost stole the show.
Sure enough, the call came that the Rams had driven and were setting up for a potential winning field goal.
“I’ll get right back to you,” said the voice on the phone.
“Why can’t I be two places at once?” I lamented.
After seemingly long minutes of silence, my phone buzzed and the text message read:
35-34. Final. FG no good.
While there’s no substitute for seeing a game first-hand, I was almost as wound up with the magnitude of what had transpired at Boulos Stadium as if I’d been there. As word passed along the sideline and eventually into the crowd, everyone was awestruck at the result, even as the game in front of them proved to be pretty dramatic as well.
Three hours later, at Bruno’s Restaurant in Portland, seemingly every Cheverus parent and fan was out celebrating. The purple and gold invasion was in full swing.
At 6:17 p.m., as Lee Goldberg began his highlights on the big TV, all activity in the bar came to a dead stop as fans relived the glory and drama of what had transpired earlier that afternoon. It’s likely the roar of happiness and relief at the end equaled the one from earlier in the day.
From Portland to Yarmouth and state-wide on the MBR.org message boards, high school football fans couldn’t stop marveling over this game for the ages.
Legendary sportswriter Red Smith once wrote in describing Bobby Thomson’s home run to win the 1951 National League pennant, “Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again.”
Saturday afternoon, reality strangled invention once more.
Cheverus survived and will meet Bangor in the Class A Final Saturday. Considering this team’s heart, there’s no reason to think it can’t find a way to win one more game and capture the program’s first championship since 1985.
“They play hard for 48 minutes,” Wolfgram said of his players following Saturday’s victory. “They compete and they’re resilient, and they’re just really good kids.”
But if Cheverus is No. 1 in Western A this year, Deering deserves mega-kudos for being No. 1A. The Rams turned heads, never gave up and even inspired coach Greg Stilphen, who normally features all the public subtlety and sensitivity of a howitzer blast to wax poetic.
“My seniors — I love them,” Stilphen said. “They’ve made me be a better person.”
This game gave everyone who loves the great sport of football and whether they were on hand or not Saturday, an incredible gift.
One that won’t fade for a long, long time.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org