Thoughts on the weekend

- With the upsets and surprises that happened this weekend, football fans in Maine will have to educate themselves on how Heal Points can provide a significant boost with just one win over a top-ranked team. This is something that the Crabtree Ranking didn’t really provide. For instance, with Deering’s 19-18 win over Lewiston, the advantage that came with beating a 3-1 team was worth 180 Heal Points, or 26.2500 points in the preliminary index. Take that number and divide it by the total number of games in the season that Deering (like everyone else) would play, which is eight, and you arrive with the Tournament Index/Heal Point number of 32.8125. That’s enough to bump the 1-4 Rams ahead of 3-2 Sanford and 2-3 South Portland.

- What made the Deering win all the more improbable was that the previously 0-4 Rams were down 18-0 at the half to Lewiston. Deering scored 19 points in the final 6:24 of the contest. But the unlikely hero during those 19 points was kicker Omed Habibzai. With 2:07 remaining and Deering down 18-12, his online kick attempt was successfully recovered. A Travis Soule to Ben Onek 10-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds remaining tied the game and placed the possible game-winner into the hands, or rather onto the foot, of Omed - who was previously 0-2 in extra point attempts. Omed’s kick split the uprights and booted Deering to a victory on homecoming day.

- With six out of the seven teams from each conference of Class A making the playoffs, this upcoming week’s game between Portland and Bangor could be the deciding factor for one of them to get to play on the last weekend of October when playoffs start. It could have been a very different scenario for the Bulldogs though. Despite being winless, four of Portland’s losses were only by ten or fewer points. They lost to Oxford Hills by six points, to Edward Little by eight points, to Windham by a single point, and to Cheverus by ten points. Of the eleven teams in the state without a victory, nobody has scored more than Portland’s 71 points and none have allowed fewer than their 150 points.

- A week ago, Falmouth’s quarterback Jack Bryant proved what his feet could do as he covered 233 yards of real estate during the Yachtsmen victory in Biddeford. This Friday Jack put up his numbers through the air, passing for 205 yards and three touchdowns to help his team defeat Messalonskee.

- One of the tougher classes to predict and forecast has been Northern Class B. While Brewer held the top spot up until Friday, that spot went to Lawrence this weekend with the Witches holding onto second. Third through fifth is an interesting bunch-up with Cony, Messalonskee, and Skowhegan separated by no more than 1.25 Heal Points and all having a 3-2 record. In the world of Heal Points, an opponent’s win here or there could cause enough of a fluctuation to bump one of the three teams into third place, or back to fifth place.

- The battle between Marshwood and Kennebunk could be one of the more unique one-two battles in Maine. They are the only one-two in the state that also ranks one-two in points scored (Hawks – 217, Rams – 198) and points allowed (Hawks – 47, Rams – 49).

- In the pre-season when there wasn’t much to go off of, a must-watch Northern Class C game was Mount Desert Island at Maine Central Institute. The Trojans were the regional champ from 2016 and the Huskies were the Class D champions in 2016. The Trojans were bringing back much of the core that carried them through their conference, while MCI was out to prove themselves after running roughshod over Northern Class D for the past three years. And people watching were treated to a show. Well, those making the trip from Bar Harbor were treated. The Trojans went up 35-0 at the half. A touchdown scored on each of their five first-half possessions. The home-standing MCI almost made a game out of it in the second half against Mount Desert Island’s back-ups by scoring 24 unanswered points, but in the end it was just too little – too late.

- Besides the Bath community, there was one team that was happy for the Shipbuilders Friday night victory against Belfast. That was the Gardiner Tigers. Their one and only win this season was against Morse. And based on the dynamics of Heal Points, the 1-4 team is in a position to reap the benefits of Morse’s 26.2500 preliminary index. Meanwhile, the combined sum of Morse’s four wins is a preliminary index total of 18 points. If you divide those two numbers by eight, that number is how 1-4 Gardiner is ahead of 4-1 Morse.

- It is rare that Cape Elizabeth, one of the stronger teams of the past decade, has had an outstanding win-loss record but is not near the top of the standings. While the 4-1 Capers are the second highest scoring and have allowed the second fewest points in Southern Class C, they are ranked sixth. But fear not Cape fans. Their remaining three games are rich in potential Heal Points – Leavitt, Fryeburg Academy, and York have a currently combined Heal total of 75 points.

- Speaking of 4-1 teams, Lake Region is entering rarified program territory as they sit in fifth place in Southern Class C. After thirteen years of not posting a winning record, the 2017 squad could be the first Lakers team to do so since 2003, when a Chuck Hamaty-led Lake Region team went 5-4 (http://www.bridgton.com/lr-exploring-moving-football-to-class-c/). They have already equaled the number of wins they earned in the years 2014-2016 combined.

- After being out of first place in Southern Class C for a week, Fryeburg Academy returned to the top spot through a Heal Point margin of just 0.3125 over number two ranked Leavitt. Remember that it was Leavitt two weeks ago that defeated Fryeburg Academy 17-14. The Hornets are 5-0, the Raiders are 4-1.

- What was Hermon’s margin of defeat on Friday? The Hawks touchdown by Nick Page with 1:31 left in the game brought them within two points of Winslow. But they were unable to recover the on-side kick attempt and finished the game with a 35-33 loss. It is important to note that a Hermon win would not have propelled them into first place, rather than would have gone into third place behind Mount Desert Island and Nokomis.

- When Nokomis defeated John Bapst on Friday, the stingiest team defense in Northern Class C only proved themselves to be that much tough as they defeated the Crusaders at Winkin Complex on the campus of Husson University. However, they are getting it done despite not putting a lot of points on the board. Amongst teams with a winning record, only Class A Windham has scored fewer points.

- Into the third quarter and up 17-10, Windham had to feel good about their chances as they had Oxford Hills on a 4th and 8. But Colton Carson faked the handoff, spun to his right, and lobbed a pass to Dawson Stevens who broke the 41 yards to the endzone. Windham was unable to advance on the next drive. Oxford Hills scored on another Carson to Stevens touchdown pass to go up 22-17. Windham was unable to score on their next drive, again, while scoring on a third consecutive drive with Emerson Brown scoring from two yards out for the eventual final score of 29-17.

- Can anybody stop Bonny Eagle? And we’re not talking about on a drive, or for a quarter, or a half. Is there a team in Maine that can hold the Scots? The state’s highest scoring offense (268 points) has made it look really easy this season. Their 49-14 victory of Thornton Academy featured their closest margin of victory to date – 35 points. And on top of that offense, they are tied with Class C Fryeburg Academy for the state’s fewest points allowed (35 points).

- In the round-and-tumble game of Southern Class D football, you need to find success on the ground if you want to have success on the scoreboard and in the standings. Sure, Wells defeated Oak Hill 41-21. But that scoreboard tells just a small part of the story. Look at the difference in rushing yards; 341 to 33 in favor of the Warriors. The backfield tandem of Tyler Bridge and Nolan Potter combined for 209 of those yards in the second half.

- Looking for one of the reasons why Lisbon shut out Dirigo 34-0? The Cougars had possession of the ball for roughly 15 minutes of the game. Running back Cooper Chiasson’s ground game was limited to just 21 yards. On the other side, despite committing four turnovers, Lisbon had 254 yards on the ground with 170 more yards in the air.

- Top ten offenses by points scored
268 – Bonny Eagle (Southern Class A)
231 – Scarborough (Southern Class A)
222 – Madison (Southern Class D)
217 – Marshwood (Southern Class B)
216 – Foxcroft Academy (Northern Class D)
208 – Leavitt (Southern Class C)
198 – Kennebunk (Southern Class B)
196 – Falmouth (Southern Class B)
190 – Lisbon (Southern Class D)
185 – Thornton Academy (Southern Class A)

- Top ten defenses by points allows
35 – Bonny Eagle (Southern Class A)
35 – Fryeburg Academy (Southern Class C)
42 – Edward Little (Northern Class A)
47 – Marshwood (Southern Class B)
48 – Cape Elizabeth (Southern Class C)
48 – Lisbon (Southern Class D)
49 – Kennebunk (Southern Class B)
49 – Nokomis (Northern Class C)
49 – Wells (Southern Class D)
55 – Oxford Hills (Northern Class A)
55 – Leavitt (Southern Class C)

- Quote of the week
"We knew they were a great team coming in but we were ready for them. It had always (been) in the back of our minds to get revenge."
Tripp Bush, Kennebunk quarterback
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/28/football-kennebunk-rolls-past-brunswick-35-0/

- Unbeaten tracker
There are 8 unbeaten teams in Maine after week five
The longest active winning streak belongs to Bonny Eagle – 16 consecutive wins
The longest active losing streak belongs to Gray-New Gloucester – 16 consecutive losses

- First place teams after week five
Class A North – Edward Little
Class A South – Bonny Eagle
Class B North – Lawrence
Class B South – Marshwood
Class C North – Winslow
Class C South – Fryeburg Academy
Class D North – Foxcroft Academy
Class D South – Wells
Class E – Boothbay

- Games of interest in week five
Thornton Academy at Oxford Hills
Falmouth at Marshwood
Brewer at Messalonskee
Cape Elizabeth at Leavitt
Lisbon at Spruce Mountain