While the Portland High football team was getting roughed up at Windham Friday night (please see story), the Cheverus and Deering squads suffered far more agonizing defeats.
The Stags had a golden opportunity to avenge last year’s playoff loss and earn the inside track for a home playoff game when they enjoyed a two-touchdown second half lead at two-time defending Class A state champion Bonny Eagle, but the Scots rallied to win, 24-21, in overtime.
The Rams hoped to snap a four-game skid at winless Westbrook and took a late lead, but couldn’t hold on and lost 12-10 when the Blue Blazes scored a touchdown with just 16 seconds to go, effectively ending Deering’s eight-year postseason run in the process.
By any account, the 2009 campaign has been a superb one for the Stags of Cheverus. Quarterfinalists a year ago, the Stags started 3-0 this fall, highlighted by a stunning and decisive 27-13 home upset of preseason favorite Windham. Cheverus was beaten 28-0 at Portland Sept. 25, but bounced back with dominant home wins over Kennebunk (30-7) and Westbrook (48-0) to take a 5-1 mark into Friday night’s game at a Bonny Eagle squad that was 4-2 and appeared vulnerable after a 14-0 home loss to Windham.
The hosts took a 7-0 lead on a TD run from Ryan Nason, but the Stags answered on a short scamper from sophomore Spencer Cooke, then scored twice in the second half – a long run from Cooke and a short run from junior quarterback Peter Gwilym – to enjoy a 21-7 advantage at halftime.
Cheverus led by the same margin at the start of the fourth, but couldn’t hold it. Nason ran for another score and Max Alfiero scored on a TD run to force overtime. There, the Stags were unable to score on their possession and Bonny Eagle completed its comeback with a field goal to win it, 24-21.
Cheverus (5-2) closes its regular season Friday night at Deering and still has a shot to earn a home playoff game the following weekend.
Deering didn’t lose a game during the 2008 regular season, reached the semifinals before losing to Bonny Eagle, then won its first two contests this fall, but since then, very little has gone right for the Rams.
Deering gave up a total of 142 points in losses to Bonny Eagle, Windham, Thornton Academy and South Portland to fall to 2-4.
Friday, however, the Rams defense was superb, holding Westbrook out of the end zone for three quarters. The problem was, Deering’s offense wasn’t its usual high-powered self. Finally, in the fourth period, a field goal from junior quarterback Jamie Ross put the Rams up 3-0. The Blue Blazes, after recovering a fumble, answered with a touchdown run with two-and-a-half minutes to play. Undaunted, Ross and the offense answered, taking a 10-6 lead when sophomore Trey Thomes scored on a 40-yard run with just over a minute to go.
Westbrook had the last laugh, driving 66 yards to win it on a 3-yard run with 16.6 seconds to go. Deering’s last-ditch effort was turned aside and the Rams dropped to 2-5, guaranteeing them their first sub-.500 campaign since the 2000 squad finished 1-7.
Deering will hope to derail Cheverus’ quest for a home playoff game when it hosts the Stags Friday night in the regular season finale. The Rams will also look forward to their annual Thanksgiving Day showdown with Portland.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org