Thoughts on the Weekend - Week Nine

October 29, 2017


Thoughts on the weekend

- Back on week one, Oxford Hills got their season started on a strong foot by handing Portland a 20-14 loss. The Vikings would go on to a 3-2 record over the next five games while the Bulldogs went 0-5 during that same span. The Vikings outscored their opposition 102-55 while the Bulldogs were outscored 71-150, although 68 of those points allowed came at the hands of Bonny Eagle. There would be a bit of a reversal of fortunes during the next three games as Oxford Hills went 1-2 and got outscored 13-96 while Portland went 2-1 and outscored their opposition 90-48. We mention that because Portland pulled off the low-ranked upset with a 21-6 victory on Friday. The game wasn’t all offensive fireworks though, as the first points weren’t scored until twenty and a half minutes into the game. But one of the things that will sting for Oxford Hills were the five turnovers they committed. Also, Portland brought Oxford Hills season to a close in 2016 when the Bulldogs won a 55-7 game during the Northern Class A regional semifinals.

- The drive that worked and the drive that didn’t work was the difference as Windham beat Cheverus 13-7 to earn their fifth consecutive regional semifinal appearance. The drive that worked wasn’t a traditional one though for the Eagles. Utilizing the arm of quarterback Tanner Bernier, Windham drove 69 yards before taking the eventual lead as Hunter Coffin caught a 15-yard pass from Tanner with 58 seconds remaining. Cheverus made it as far as the Eagles 42 before a fumble ended their last drive and hopes for a semifinal game in Auburn.

- Like 2016, the two Northern Class B lower seeded teams pulled off the upsets to advance to the semifinals. However, unlike 2016, the teams that advanced last year were the higher seeded teams that lost this year - Cony and Messalonskee. Perhaps the most shocking was 1-7 Brunswick beating 5-3 Cony. How did that exactly happen when they were down two touchdowns at halftime? The Dragons only allowed 141 yards through the air. They successfully faked a punt twice, with the first resulting in a 45-yard touchdown jaunt by Owen Richardson and the second extended a Brunswick drive. Noah Goddard would get a pick-six off Anthony Sousa that turned the game into a two-score Brunswick lead in the fourth quarter. All of that occurred as Brunswick scored 24 unanswered second-half points to pull off the come-from-behind victory and advanced to their ninth consecutive regional semifinal appearance.

- Greely’s 7-0 victory over Biddeford was Maine’s lowest scoring football playoff game since 2012, when Winslow defeated Traip Academy 7-0 in the Western Class C regional semifinal.

- Combined points scored by the four lower seeded teams in Southern Class B - 16. Combined points allowed by those same four lower seeded teams - 137.

- One of the most interesting impacts of Heal Points was that 3-5 Gardiner was hosting 6-2 Morse in a Southern Class C regional quarterfinal. Heal Points, which only factors a numerical point value of the teams that are defeated, had the Tigers ahead in the standings despite only having half as many wins as the Shipbuilders. So it seemed like this game would be a good way to decide if the ranking system had it right. And for 24 minutes, the opponents of Heal Points had a good argument. Morse out gained Gardiner 119 to 24 and out possessed them 16:07 to 7:53 even though both teams had goose eggs on the scoreboard. In the second half the two sides traded scores, but Morse going for two points gave them the one-point lead. The Tigers would take the final lead as Nate Malinowski turned a fourth and three into a 45-yard touchdown score.

- After starting the season 1-5, Gardiner has won their last three games. This was their first playoff game and win in five years.

- Oceanside’s dynamic running back Michael Norton Jr. had scored 18 of his 20 touchdowns on the ground for the Mariners. On Friday he ran in five more scores to help his team beat the host Hermon Hawks, who were hosting their first ever football playoff game.

- Despite Hermon’s season coming to an end on Friday, it was a very successful season by all accounts. The seven-year program set school bests in wins (6), position (4th), most points scored (288), fewest points allowed (157), their first playoff appearance, and their first playoff home game.

- There was a period of time where it would have been unfeasible for the Mountain Valley Falcons to go more than a year without a playoff win. Yet, since 2012, the Falcons had gone 0-4 in five years of playoff football. In comparison, the Falcons went 11-3 in the playoffs, with two state championships in three Portland trips, from 2007 to 2011. That monkey of sorts was finally thrown off their back as Mountain Valley defeated Spruce Mountain 26-6, which was also their first victory over the Phoenix since 2012.

- A theme during Friday was a series of surprising scores. One of them was in Wells, as the Warriors only had a 7-0 edge on Oak Hill after the first twelve minutes of their regional quarterfinal contest. That would quickly change in the second quarter as quarterback Michael Wrigley, receiver Peyton McKay, and the running back duo of Tyler Bridge and Nolan Potter scored four touchdowns to put Wells up 35-0 at the half. As Wells head coach Tim Roche put it, "... and then Tyler Bridge did his thing and Nolan Potter did his thing." The two backs combined for 321 yards and four touchdowns as the Warriors winning ways continued with the 47-6 win.

- There is one universally accepted principal in Maine football - who controls the running game, wins the game. Northern Class C’s best defense in Nokomis just wasn’t able to stop Maine Central Institute’s ground effort, as the Huskies ran for 360 yards and averages a little over five yards a carry as they beat the Warriors 33-24. Between Adam Bertrand and Seth Bussell, they combined for 45 carries for 277 yards and three touchdowns.

- Along with Hermon, this was the first ever playoff game for Nokomis and Ellsworth. And despite their losses, it should be noteworthy that very few teams win their very first playoff game. The only ones to have done so since 2004 is Cape Elizabeth (14-7 over York in 2006), Calais/Woodland (32-14 over Mattanawcook Academy in 2008), and Yarmouth (35-28 over Livermore Falls in 2009).

- That list of teams that did not win their first football playoff game consists of Greely (lost to Mountain Valley in 2005), Falmouth (lost to Mountain Valley in 2008), Camden Hills (lost to Belfast in 2010), Mount View (lost to Foxcroft Academy in 2011), Freeport (lost to Spruce Mountain in 2013), Washington Academy (lost to Mattanawcook Academy in 2013), Telstar (lost to Winthrop/Monmouth in 2013), Poland (lost to Wells in 2014), Gray-New Gloucester (lost to Cape Elizabeth in 2015), and Houlton (lost to Mount View in 2015).

- Were it not for the Class D state championship game, the Southern Class D final between Winthrop/Monmouth and Lisbon would have gone down as the most exciting finish of 2016. And when the two teams were slated to square off in the regional quarterfinal, it wouldn’t have been out of line to wonder if the seniors, juniors, and sophomores of this year to remember how that fateful game went. Especially since these two teams did not play in the regular season. Winthrop/Monmouth coach Dave St. Hilaire and running back Cameron Gaghan both gave quotes which referenced that game. But unlike last year, the Ramblers put this game out of reach when they had the opportunity. After being down 7-6 at halftime, they outscored Lisbon 21-7 and limited them to just 79 rushing yards.

- At the end of Saturday, a common term that got use was the term "playoff upset". Generally this is when a higher-seeded team loses. But not every lower seeded term winning is automatically an upset. So we wanted to do the homework and find some of the biggest regional quarterfinal playoff upsets since 2004. Here is the list we compiled.

2004 - #7 Skowhegan (3-5) defeated #2 Windham (7-1), 42-20
2012 - #7 Belfast (3-5) defeated #2 Leavitt (7-1), 20-17
2015 - #7 Greely (3-5) defeated #2 Leavitt (6-2), 34-26
2016 - #6 Cony (3-5) defeated #3 Lawrence (6-2), 28-27
2017 - #6 Brunswick (1-7) defeated #3 Cony (5-3), 38-27

- Of the 18 regional semifinal games (including the two Class E games), we have confirmed 11 of them. These will be updated at our website at www.mainehighschoolfootball.com. We are still waiting to confirm dates and times for the following games; Sanford @ Scarborough, Windham @ Edward Little, Bonny Eagle @ Thornton Academy, Brunswick @ Lawrence, Greely @ Marshwood, Brewer @ Skowhegan, and Gardiner @ Leavitt.

- Quote of the week
"The kids believed. We’ve played our best at the end of the season. The kids played their best half of the season in the second half and pulled it off."
Dan Cooper, Brunswick head coach
http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/10/27/brunswick-rallies-past-cony-in-ptc-b-quarterfinal/

- Unbeaten tracker 
The longest active winning streak belongs to Wells - 13 consecutive wins

- Other teams with note-worthy winning streaks,
Marshwood - 9 consecutive wins
Mount Desert Island - 8 consecutive wins
Boothbay - 8 consecutive wins
Winslow - 7 consecutive wins
Scarborough - 5 consecutive wins
Madison - 5 consecutive wins
Bucksport - 4 consecutive wins
Thornton Academy - 3 consecutive wins
Brewer - 3 consecutive wins
Falmouth - 3 consecutive wins
Cape Elizabeth - 3 consecutive wins
Gardiner - 3 consecutive wins

- Teams still remaining in the playoffs
Class A North - Edward Little, Lewiston, Windham, Portland
Class A South - Scarborough, Thornton Academy, Bonny Eagle, Sanford
Class B North - Skowhegan, Lawrence, Brewer, Brunswick
Class B South - Marshwood, Kennebunk, Falmouth, Greely
Class C North - Mount Desert Island, Winslow, Oceanside, Maine Central Institute
Class C South - Leavitt, Cape Elizabeth, Fryeburg Academy, Gardiner
Class D North - Foxcroft Academy, Bucksport, Mattanawcook Academy, Dexter
Class D South - Wells, Madison, Mountain Valley, Winthrop/Monmouth
Class E - Boothbay, Maranacook, Camden Hills, Sacopee Valley

- Games of interest in the regional semifinals
Brunswick at Lawrence
Falmouth at Kennebunk
Oceanside at Mount Desert Island
Mattanawcook Academy at Bucksport
Bonny Eagle at Thornton Academy

What are your thoughts on the weekend?