Thoughts on the weekend - Week One

September 3, 2017

Thoughts on the weekend

- First off we would like to congratulate a team that has trying to get their first MPA varsity win in nine years. Since their first game on September 4th, 2009, the Sacopee Valley Hawks have met loss after loss. Not to dwell on a negative number, but their 40-game losing ranked as the third longest known losing streak in Maine football history. You’ll notice that we used the term ranked, as in the past tense. That streak doesn’t matter anymore after Friday following the Hawks 25-0 win against Traip. It didn’t get the attention we think that it deserves, so Sacopee Valley you will get our opening spot this weekend. Congratulations on ending the streak!

- You wouldn’t blame Lewiston’s Hunter Landry for being a little tired on Labor Day. The junior labored plenty on the ground, through the air, and on defense in the Blue Devils 34-21 win against South Portland. It may very well have been his defensive efforts that got the most attention. He picked off three passes on Friday, two of them stopping Red Riot goal line drives and the one resulting in a return for a score.

- Of the seven Class A games, three were shutouts and four had a margin of victory of greater than 40 points.

- Owen Garrard of Scarborough and Caden Begos of Edward Little each ran for four scores in their games this weekend.

- A stat that jumped out at us Friday was the number zero. To be more specific, zero yards gained on Friday by Cheverus at halftime. Part of those zero yards gained may be attributed to three Stags turnovers in the first half.

- If the Messalonskee Eagles weren’t on your early-season radar, you may want to make sure it’s working after Friday. The Eagles did something that hasn’t been done since September 26th, 2008 as they shutout the defending Class B champion Brunswick Dragons. But it wasn’t nearly as decisive or one-sided as you may think. Messalonskee only held a meager 3-0 lead at halftime courtesy of a 35 yard field goal by Kyle Burger-Roy. Shortly after the start of the fourth quarter Messalonskee scored two touchdowns for a 16-0 lead. Meanwhile on defense, the Dragons were held strong as they only accounted for 68 yards and three first downs.

- Dynamite comes in small packages. That description is apt for the Brewer Witches 150-pound running back Bryant Kiley. The explosion he caused was the 330 rushing yards that factored in Brewer’s 21-19 win over Lawrence. The game may have been different were it not for two plays in the second half. Lawrence was poised to score in the third quarter but coughed up the ball and gave Brewer a first and ten on their own one-yard line. Bryant got the opening drive handoff and jetted down the field for a 99-yard touchdown. The score gave Brewer a 21-12. While they gave up a two-yard touchdown run to Lawrence’s Tyler Larouche with 2:04 left in the game, the Bulldogs got no closer and Brewer earned their third consecutive season opener victory.

- Establishing yourself early on is critical. Marshwood adhered to that principal by scoring on their opening drive via a 71-yard rushing score by Kyle Glidden against the home team Skowhegan Indians. The offense didn’t end there, and neither did a suffocating defense that picked off three Skowhegan passes (two of which were within Marshwood’s own ten yard line), as the Hawks finished the half up 42-0. Marshwood would go on to win the game 55-12.

- For the second straight year, Fryeburg Academy was involved in the opening game of the season. Following last year’s opening loss to Cape Elizabeth, this year’s edition could be called the Jared Chisari and the Raiders show. Jared finished the afternoon as one of ten players to score nine or more touchdowns.

- There was lots of uncertainty during the summer about the ability to have Waterhouse Field ready in time for the 2017 fall season. Gone were the wooden bleachers on both sidelines and one of the end zones. Gone were the lights. A playing surface, a changing room building, the concession stands on the other end zone, and fences were all that remained at Biddeford’s iconic field. The community rallied though. They got the light poles up and readied. Portable bleachers were moved into the South end zone. And the off-season work was rewarded with a 43-0 Tigers victory against Westbrook.

- When you move up after winning three consecutive regional titles and are one of the reigning state champions, a bulls-eye is one your back whether you want it there or not. The Maine Central Institute Huskies seemed up to the challenge of Northern Class C after reeling off 31 straight Northern Class D wins. Oceanside was also up to the challenge too. The underrated Mariners did go 5-3 last year in regular season play before falling to the eventual regional champions in Mount Desert Island. The former Little Ten Conference rivals met in their first game since 2009, and Oceanside scored their first win over the Huskies since a 31-3 win on October 9th, 2009, a time before the consolidation when they were known as the Rockland Tigers.

- York head coach Randy Small can break down the Wildcats football into two halves. There was the first half plus 46 seconds that York led 28-14 and held the traveling Leavitt Hornets to just 153 yards. Then there was the rest of the game where York surrendered 41 consecutive points on 290 yards of offense while committing four turnovers. As Randy was quoted by the Seacoast Online after the game, "We can pout about it or we can get our (butts) in the film room Monday and get better. And I think it will be the latter."

- The Old Orchard Beach Seagulls were one of the teams pointed out during the off-season as a likely occupier of the new Class E. But the school opted to keep their squad in what would become the very-competitive Southern Class D. It was wondered how they would compete as one of the smaller teams in the conference. Even their home- open was against the larger Class C Freeport Falcons (which has almost double the enrollment of OOB at 494 to 251). But it was a determined Seagulls team on their home Joe Regina Football Field that was the victor after a 28-8 game.

- In only their 26th game of varsity existence, Houlton recorded their first ever shutout victory as Aroostook County’s only football-playing school shut out the Stearns Minutemen 30-0.

- Wells came, Wells saw, and Wells conquered in their season opener on a dominating 46-0 win against Winthrop/Monmouth. The Warriors easily won the yardage game by almost a three-to-one margin (420 to 121). Bruising fullback Nolan Potter accounted for four Warrior scores while the defense forced three turnovers and held the Ramblers first team to only 83 total yards.

- Since the move back to four classes in 2013, the Southern Maine trio of Cheverus, Portland, and Windham has finished top three every year in Northern Class A. The question of when the Northern half of the conference would contend has been discussed ad-nauseam. With Edward Little, Lewiston, and Oxford Hills picking up victories they occupy three of the top four places in the conference. However it was Oxford Hills’ victory that was the biggest Northern A statement of the bunch. The Vikings took an early lead on a Dawson Stevens 17-yard score and didn’t relinquish it as they recorded their first even varsity football victory over the Portland Bulldogs.

- Winslow and Mount Desert Island aren’t really considered rivals in the traditional sense. Sure they have often played in the same conference for much of their respective programs’ existences. But they aren’t in a close geographic proximity like, say, Winslow and Waterville or Lawrence. They haven’t been fierce title rivals as Mount Desert Island has one state championship game appearance to Winslow’s fifteen. And the last Trojans victory over the Black Raiders was a 23-0 win during a 2010 season that Winslow went 2-6. That seemed to set the stage for a David vs Goliath showdown during the 2016 Northern Class C regional finals. Mount Desert Island was the team that finished first in the conference based on Crabtree points despite losing to Winslow in the regular season. Winslow had went to the state championship four consecutive years but were third based on Crabtree points and had to play through the regional quarterfinals. They would meet one another but it was Mount Desert Island’s ball-control offense a methodical, disciplined play that prevented Winslow from getting points on the board. The Trojans’ win is still, in our opinion, considered one of the bigger playoff upsets of our time. So this set the scene for their season-opening game. And it was as close-fought a contest as you could image. The score went down to the final drive as Winslow held strong at their own 33-yard line for the win.

- If you noticed that this week had a lot of shutouts, you were correct that there were. Precisely, there were 17 of them across 39 games. That is a very significant number. It is the most shutouts recorded in one week going back to 2004. Considered that teams have only increased in number since then, it is arguable that this represents the most ever shutouts in a week in Maine’s high school football history. The breakdown is four shutouts in Class A, four shutouts in Class B, one shutout in Class C, five shutouts in Class D, and three shutouts in Class E.

- For those that have reviewed the MPA website for standings, you may notice that the preliminary index is quite a bit higher than it should be. The MPA’s explanation on the Heal point system explains that 40 points are awarded for a Class A win, 38 points for a Class B win, 36 points for a Class C win, and 34 points for a Class D win. The Football bulletin only indicates that Heal points will be used to determine rankings. It doesn’t provide any further breakdown in the system. The preliminary index is determined by adding points based on the class of opponent that is defeated then divided by the total number of games to be played. For instance, based on the MPA’s system, Windham should have a preliminary index of 5.0000 (one Class A win for 40 points, divided by eight games played, with the decimal point extended our four places.) However, the MPA lists the prelimary index as 8.7500.
We want to credit Bob Beatham Jr. for figuring out how the MPA is determining the Heal point preliminary index for football. The MPA is awarding 70 points for a Class A win, 60 points for a Class B win, 50 points for a Class C win, 40 points for a Class D win, and 30 points for a Class E win.

- Quote of the week
"It’s not worth it to come all the way here (Skowhegan) to lose."
Kyle Glidden, Marshwood running back

- Unbeaten tracker
There are 39 unbeaten teams in Maine after week one
The longest active winning streak belongs to Bonny Eagle - 12 consecutive wins
The longest active losing streak belongs to Camden Hills - 22 consecutive losses

- First place teams after week one
Class A North - Edward Little, Oxford Hills, Windham
Class A South - Bonny Eagle, Scarborough, Thornton Academy
Class B North - Brewer, Messalonskee
Class B South - Biddeford, Kennebunk, Mt. Ararat
Class C North - Hermon, Medomak Valley, Oceanside, Winslow
Class C South - Cape Elizabeth, Fryeburg Academy, Gardiner, Leavitt
Class D North - Dexter, Houlton, Washington Academy
Class D South - Dirigo, Oak Hill, Wells
Class E - Boothbay, Maranacook, Sacopee Valley

- Games of interest in week two
Lewiston at Oxford Hills
Windham at Bonny Eagle
Biddeford at Brunswick
Kennebunk at Messalonskee
Spruce Mountain at Wells