The Yarmouth football program has arrived.
Has it ever.
After winning just one game total in their first two varsity seasons, the Clippers find themselves on target for a playoff berth in year three following Friday night’s stunning 48-26 home victory (their third in as many weeks) over previously unbeaten Lisbon in Western Class C play.
Falmouth almost sprung an upset of its own, but the Yachtsmen were done in by turnovers and suffered an agonizing 26-20 setback at Wells to fall to 2-3.
Greely is also 2-3 after losing 25-0 at York.
Freeport fell to 1-4 after being blanked 37-0 by visiting Old Orchard Beach.
Full sail ahead
Yarmouth entered the 2009 season optimistic that it could contend, but after hard-fought losses to Old Orchard Beach (28-12) and Oak Hill (26-23) to start the year, the Clippers didn’t have much room for error.
The turnaround began Sept. 18 with a 56-8 pounding of host Traip Academy. Yarmouth then toyed with first-year varsity program Sacopee in a 56-0 triumph.
Friday night brought a much bigger challenge in a Lisbon squad that outscored its first four foes by a composite 98-28 margin.
The Clippers delivered a series of haymakers early and built a huge halftime lead. Senior standout Brodie Woodson, who averaged over 40 yards per catch and reached the end zone more than half the time he caught the ball heading into the game, opened the scoring with a long TD run. Junior Nate Pingitore followed suit moments later and Yarmouth was up 14-0 after one quarter.
In the second period, Pingitore scored on a short run. Then, after Lisbon got on the board with a TD pass, senior quarterback Eric Estabrook found senior Andrew King on a short scoring pass to make it 26-6 at the break.
Yarmouth wasn’t able to hold its halftime lead against Oak Hill and there might have been a little cause for concern when the Greyhounds scored first in the second half to make it 26-12 heading for the fourth quarter. But the Clippers had plenty more offense in reserve, getting a TD pass from Estabrook to Woodson to make it 33-12, a 65-yard burst from Estabrook to make it 41-20 and an Estabrook to Woodson TD pass to put the game away. Yarmouth went on to win 48-26 and now has to be considered a legitimate contender.
“It was a good victory,” said Clippers coach Jim Hartman. “The kids played hard and it meant a lot to them and to the playoff picture. Our speed was just too much for Lisbon. They figured our defense out in the fourth quarter, but each time they scored, Estabrook answered. He was phenomenal. I can’t say enough about Estabrook and Woodson. They put on a show.
“(Senior) David Dietz set things up by running up the middle for 124 yards. Nate got to run too. The kids executed the game plan flawlessly.”
Yarmouth has three games remaining: Friday night at Boothbay, the home finale Oct. 16 vs. Madison and a game at first-year Freeport on Oct. 24. If the Clippers can win out, they have a great shot at qualifying for the playoffs for the first time.
“We’ve unleashed a monster with our confidence level,” Hartman said. “It’s sky-high. The big difference is turnovers. We’ve created 18 and only had seven. We didn’t create any in our losses. We haven’t committed any in our wins. The kids are playing really well. A couple kids who were hurt are back.
“If we can go 6-2, we should be fine. We have to stay humble and do it. We’d love to get a home playoff game. Making the playoffs would be enormous for the program.”
Falmouth lost its opener at home to York, then won 22-0 at Fryeburg and 12-7 at Lake Region before falling 28-0 at home to Cape Elizabeth. Friday night, the Yachtsmen traveled to 3-1 Wells and weren’t expected to compete. Falmouth did much more than just compete and rode home distraught, feeling it should have won.
The Yachtsmen had an early touchdown return from senior Brandon Morrill called back by a dubious penalty, but managed to lead 14-6 at the half. Falmouth then was done in by turnovers in the second half and the Warriors went ahead. The Yachtsmen had a chance to answer late, but couldn’t do so and lost 26-20.
“While you never like to lose, I was very proud of our players for playing hard from the opening to the final whistle,” said coach John Fitzsimmons. “Two players had exceptional games. (Sophomore) Jack Cooleen had a night to remember. He had 197 yards in the air on six receptions. He had two touchdown catches and runs of 85 yards and 65 yards. He started the season in obscurity and now, he is one of the most respected receivers in Class B. He is only beginning to scratch the surface of his true potential to play this game. Brandon Morrill had a (60-yard interception return) for a TD and was second in team tackles with 7.5 for the game.”
Cooleen had six catches for a whopping 197 yards. Senior Josiah Fiegleson led the team with 10 tackles, including a sack. Senior Michael Kane had 5.5 tackles and two sacks.
Falmouth hosts Gray-New Gloucester (2-3) at 6 p.m. Friday.
“We’ll just pick ourselves up and get ready to play a good Gray-New Gloucester team,” Fitzsimmons said.
Greely took a 2-2 mark to York. The Rangers defeated Poland (26-7) and Lake Region (17-0) and lost 21-0 to visiting Wells and 37-21 at Gray-New Gloucester. Friday night at York, Greely’s defense produced a yeoman’s effort, but the offense couldn’t find the end zone. The Wildcats led 13-0 after one quarter, went up 19-0 in the third and added a touchdown in the fourth to win, 25-0.
The Rangers look to bounce back Saturday when they host defending Class B state champion Mountain Valley in a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Freeport also couldn’t score Saturday when it hosted Old Orchard Beach. The Falcons held the Seagulls out of the end zone until the second period when the visitors scored twice to lead 14-0 at the break. Old Orchard Beach then put it away with a 23-point third period en route to a 37-0 triumph.
Freeport visits Traip Saturday afternoon.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org