Yarmouth football off to semis; Others sent home

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(Editor’s note: For the complete Falmouth-Westbrook game story, please visit theforecaster.net)

Four local football teams took the field for playoff games Friday night, but just one was left standing by midnight.

That one would be the top ranked, defending Class C state champion Yarmouth Clippers, who improved their two-season win streak to 21 with a 45-6 victory over No. 8 Oak Hill in the quarterfinals.

Yarmouth rushed for 257 yards, utilizing a variety of backs. Junior Caleb Uhl led the Clippers with 108 yards on nine carries and a touchdown. Senior Anders Overhaug scored three touchdowns and rushed for 68 yards on 11 carries.

“We try to get equal carries,” Clippers coach Jim Hartman said. “We try to spread it around. Once they started chasing Anders, we could run Caleb back on a couple plays.”

Overhaug took the opening kick to the 40. Four plays later, sophomore quarterback Brady Neujahr scampered in from 30 yards for a 7-0 lead.

“We preach that special teams win championships,” Hartman said. “We work hard at it. We spent a lot of time this week on that. We picked up on some things they did on the film, and we worked on it really well.”

Sophomore Matt Woodbury scored on a 2-yard run to make it 14-0 midway through the first quarter.

The Raiders then drove for a touchdown, cutting the deficit to 14-6, but a fake punt toss from senior Dennis Erving led to another Yarmouth TD, an 8-yard Overhaug run.

“I’ve been fighting with (Dennis) all year to throw that thing,” Hartman said.

Overhaug had a pair of 13-yard scoring runs in the third quarter to make it 35-6. The Clippers then added a 27-yard field goal from senior Bryce Snyder and an 18-yard run by Uhl in the fourth.

“It was much tougher than we anticipated,” Hartman said. “The kids passed with flying colors. Special teams was the difference. Anders excelled on kickoffs. He and Dennis did a great job on punt returns to set us up with short fields.”

Yarmouth will host No. 4 Lisbon (7-2) in the semifinals Friday night. On Sept. 30, the Clippers beat the Greyhounds, 34-6. In last year’s regional final, Yarmouth rallied past Lisbon, 14-12.

“With all due respect to Freeport, Lisbon’s become our top rival,” Hartman said. “We’ve had some big games in front of big crowds. They’re a pretty good team. We have to win the special teams battle. We’re looking forward to it.”

Elsewhere in Western C, Freeport made its first playoff appearance Friday. The Falcons, seeded sixth, went to No. 3 Maranacook and despite taking an early 6-0 lead on a short TD run from junior Dan Burke, went down to a 30-6 defeat as their best season to date concluded at 5-4.

“We had a lot of penalties that killed us,” said Freeport coach Rob Grover. “(Maranacook’s) a very balanced team. They wore us down. We had to play from behind in the second half. Burke had a great game on both sides of the ball.

“It was a good season for a third-year program. We had a ball. Every season’s fun, but this one was special. There were a lot of firsts.”

The Falcons lose eight seniors, but will look to contend again next autumn.

“Our junior class is solid,” Grover said. “The line is where we need to get stronger.”

In Western B, Falmouth hosted its first playoff game ever. The fourth-ranked Yachtsmen were coming off an inspirational come-from-behind win over rival Greely in the regular season finale, but couldn’t rally again against No. 5 Westbrook in the quarterfinals.

Neither team scored a point in the first three periods. After the Blue Blazes took the lead (but failed on a two-point conversion) with 9:14 left, Falmouth drove 60 yards and went up 7-6 on a 7-yard TD run from junior Will Sipperly and an extra point from sophomore Joe Goodrich with 6:14 to go. The Yachtsmen couldn’t keep Westbrook out of the end zone, however, as the visitors scored with 1:50 to go. Falmouth’s last drive ended with an interception and a final desperation play went for naught as the Yachtsmen’s season ended at 6-3 with a 12-7 loss.

“It wasn’t meant to be,” lamented Falmouth coach John Fitzsimmons. “I felt when we came down and scored, I thought the magic was going to be there, but to (Westbrook’s) credit, they worked hard and drove the ball up the field. This game meant the world to us. We’ve never had a home game. We were excited about it. We wanted to have the first (playoff) win ever here. It wasn’t to be, but part of life is learning that things don’t always go your way and picking yourself up to move on.”

Westbrook moved on to face top-ranked Wells in the semifinals, while the Yachtsmen will say goodbye to some special seniors who turned the program into a legitimate contender and look forward to 2012.

“The guys love the game and played their hearts out,” Fitzsimmons said. “We say thank you and wish Westbrook well in the next game. It’s a wonderful group of players that I’ll be able to always say I was glad to coach. It was an outstanding record for Falmouth, but we really wanted to go to Wells. We’ll start in the weight room in January and talk about 2012. We’ll have some good younger players back, but we lose some talented guys who made this year very special.”

Greely slipped to the No. 6 seed after losing to Falmouth and went to No. 3 Cape Elizabeth for the quarterfinals. The Rangers fell behind 14-0, but got back to 14-3 at halftime thanks to a field goal from junior Pat Finnegan. Senior Mike Leeman’s short TD run got Greely back to 14-9 in the third period, but the Capers added a fourth quarter score to win, 21-9, ending the Rangers’ year at 5-4.

“We made a couple early mistakes and they kept us out of the end zone in the fourth quarter,” said Greely coach Dave Higgins. “We gave them good field position. The kids played awesome. I think (Cape Elizabeth) thought they were in a game with us.

“It’s been a great season,” he added. “Going in, our expectation was just to be competitive. We didn’t think we’d have the record we had. I thought in the preseason that we might surprise a lot of people. The kids bought in.”

The Rangers lose some key senior contributors, but should be right back in the hunt next year.

“We lose Leeman and a couple other two-way starters, but I’m pretty excited,” said Higgins. “It comes down to having the kids buy in. Will they lift and do what they need to do for us take another step?”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Sidebar Elements

Yarmouth seniors Ben Weinrich (left) and Bart Gallagher serve as a roadblock for an Oak Hill runner during Friday night’s 44-6 Clippers’ win in the Western C quarterfinals.

Greely junior Svenn Jacobson finds his way impeded by 300-pound Cape Elizabeth senior Andrew Lavallee during the teams’ Western Class B quarterfinal round playoff game Friday night. The Rangers’ season came to an end with a 21-9 setback.

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.