Sunday, October 17, 2010

Regular Season Sports Day Dream

Rarely does one encounter a day of this magnitude in the regular season in Maine High School Football. Sure, a Nor' Easter helped matters dramatically, but to have a day where #2 Cheverus took on #4 Bonny Eagle in the West and #1 Bangor took on #3 Lawrence in the East, well that's just something the sports gods cooked up.

Rollins throws 60 yrd TD
Better still, the Bonny Eagle/Cheverus tilt went off at 12:30 and a mere 1 hour 30 minute drive away, Lawrence/Bangor kicked off at 7PM in Fairfield.

The day started with me sitting at a microphone on 96.3 The Big Jab, yapping about sports on the Weekend Warm Up (Presented By Mr Sparky America's On Time Electrician). See how I did that? Pretty slick. So I was able to start my sports day by talking sports of all kinds with my pal and partner in crime Matty for 3 hours prior to kickoff. So yeah, my Saturday of Maine sports did not suck.

So after a great show, if I do say so myself, I chugged on over to Cheverus, flashed my "Media Credentials", and got an insanely great parking spot. Perks you know, gotta take advantage once in a while. Anyway, met up with my pal Tom from MBR.ORG and Coach Rob Munzing, who by coincidence, will be the color guy on our High School Football Championship presented by Messer Truck Equipment November
20th on 96.3 The Big Jab (I promise, the shameless self-promotional plugs will stop), for the Cheverus /
Bonny Eagle game at Cheverus. The atmosphere was spectacular, cool cloudy day, parking lot full, the smell of one of the best snack shacks in the state wafting around, thousands of people sitting on the hill, and the 2 highest ranked teams in the SMAA ready to go at it on the field.
Zendrasko rumbles 65 yrds for TD 

One thing we knew at the get go, both teams had something to prove and both teams would be 100% prepared. With coaches John Wolfgram on the Cheverus side and Coach Kevin Cooper on the Scots side, these two teams would be ready to play at the highest levels.

Cheverus got a huge break early as Bonny Eagle's Ethan Thorne fumbled the opening kick off. Cheverus' Ryan Casale recovered. Casale's best was yet to come.

Cheverus took quick advantage as QB Peter Gwilym rumbled in for the 2 yrd TD, and the extra point gave the Stags a 7 - 0 lead just 2 minutes in.

After trading punts a couple times, Bonny Eagle got on the board on a big 3rd down play. On 3rd a 7 at the Cheverus 40. Gwilym, who also plays DB for the Stags, seemed caught in between coverages and was looking for help. Scots' QB Matt Rollins seemed to quick snap seeing the coverage and nailed Cam Cooper on the run behind Gwilym for the 60 yrd TD. Kicking into a swirling heavy wind, the Scots missed the extra point for a Cheverus 7 - 6 lead.

Cheverus answered quickly, as on the next drive the Stags offensive line opened a wide hole, highlighted by a big block on Matt Rollins by Zach Dulac, let Evan Jendrasko get all the way down the far sideline for a 65 yrd TD run. Louis DiStasio nailed the extra point for a 14 - 6 Cheverus lead.
Cam Cooper hauls in
46 yrd TD bomb

Bonny Eagle's D seemed to be tested all day, and for the most part, answered the call. The defense came up big about midway through the 2nd quarter, when Gwilym and Spencer Cooke moved the Stags down the field. Cooke rattled off a couple 10plus yard gains to get into Scots territory. Things looked all Stags when Gwilym mad an unbelievable completion as he was being dragged down by 2 Scots defenders. Bonny Eagle stiffened up and sacked Gwilym on a 4th and short to take over on downs on their own 37. After some tough runs by Rollins and RB Nick Adkins, Cam Cooper got behind the Cheverus D again, and again Rollins hit him in strid, this time for a 46 yrd TD. Scots Coach Kevin Cooper, sensing the importance of this game, went for two. The gamble paid off as Rollins pitched to Adkins, who rumbled in for the 2 point conversion and the 14 - 14 tie.

That is where things stood at the end of the 1st half.

The Scots took their 1st and only lead of the game early in the 3rd. After a Stags punt, the Scots got some nice gains from Rollins, Adkins and Ethan Thorne. Big play of the bunch was Thorne breaking through the line, getting a huge block from Cooper on Stags defender Spencer Cooke, and hit open field for another 46 yard TD. The Scots decided to go for 2 again, this time failing, leaving the score Bonny Eagle up 20 - 14.

Cam Cooper lines up a block on
Spencer Cooke to free Ethan Thorne
 on the 46 yard TD run.
The lead seemed to suit the Scots fine, causing a couple Stags punts, but Cheverus D stepped up as well, swinging the field position solidly in the Cheverus advantage.

The next score was a by product of that field position. A Gwilym punt left the Scots starting at the 2 yard line. Cheverus didn't waste anytime, blasting through the line and nailing Scots RB Adkins in the end zone for a safety. The Stags inched closer with a Scots 20 - 16 lead.

Defenses took over again Cheverus, off the free kick, drove to the Scots 20 before Scots defender Nate Martel sacked Gwilym on 4th down to turn the ball over.

Cheverus' turn to step up, stopped the Scots and 3 plays and forced a punt. Dulac got the block and Casale returned it to the Scots 5 yard line.

The Stags could not capitalize as a holding penalty put them in a 4th and long situation. Gwilym completed a pass to Cooke, who almost made it to the pylon, but didn't, turning the ball over again on downs.

With the start of the 4th, the Scots had to again start from deep in their own territory, this time from their 2. After a couple runs got the ball to the 4, the Scots had to punt again.

Guess who made plays for Cheverus again. If you guessed Dulac and Casale, you would be right and win absolutely nothing.

Dulac pushed his blocker back and Matt Rollins punted it in the back of his own lineman. bodies scattered everywhere in the end zone. rollins tried to recover, but lost it as Casale fell on it for the go ahead TD. The extra point made it 20-20 Stags with a little under 10 minutes remaining.

Kevin Cooper's crew acted like they had been there before, driving right down the field on Cheverus' tiring defense. Adkins and Rollins both made big runs, especially a big 20 yard scamper by Rollins to move the ball
to the Cheverus 5. On the next play, the Stags, undetermined, blasted 4 guys through the Scots line and stuffed Adkins for a 2 yard loss. The Scots called time out to asses there chances.

Rollins came out firing on the next play, and disaster struck for Bonny Eagle. A Stags defender got his hands on the ball, tipped it high, and Stags defender Liam Hobbins came down wit the interception to seal the Scots fate.

Cheverus was able to drain most of the clock and stopped a last ditch effort by Bonny Eagle to seal the huge 23-20 win for the Stags.

Was this a preview of the Class A West Championship? only time will tell, but I am 100% certain if it is, it will be a classic. Bonny Eagle knows it left many points on the field and their defense was able to control Cheverus many times during the game. The playoffs, with these two teams should be a great drive.

Sherwood breaks free
for 59 yrd TD reception

Radio show..check. Game 1...check. time to head north, grab some lunch and bundle up for what will be a very cool Keyes Field in Fairfied for Lawrence vs Bangor.

For those of you that have been to Keyes Field knows the festivities get going a little early in Fairfield. We were not disappointed, as at 5:45, the stands were already filling. By 7pm, the crowd was in a frenzy.

The only early damper was a Bangor won the toss and elected to receive. The crowd got going again, kickoff, and it was on.

Bangor wasted no time attacking, as all state QB Joe Seccareccia nailed WR Nick Sherwood down the near side for a 70 yard TD pass off a flea flicker. A stunned Lawrence crowd hummed with disbelief, until a few claps turned to
thunderous applause, as fans noticed a flag in the backfield. Sure enough, a penalty of ineligible downfield on
Blaisdell for 22 yrd TD
Bangor to negate the long TD.

The emotion was short lived, as couple short gains later, the duo of Seccareccia and Sherwood connected for a similar pattern on the farside for a 59 yrd TD. The extra point made it a quick 7 - 0 Bangor. That was all Bangor would see of the big play all night, as Lawrence's vaunted D made offensive life without Josiah Hartley (injured 2 weeks ago with head and neck injuries) very difficult.

After a couple of punts, Lawrence got on the board on an impressive 60 plus yard drive, capped off by a nifty 22 yard TD run by RB Blair Blaisdell. The extra point tied the game at 7 with 30 seconds left in the 1st

Bangor, as it does, grabbed the lead right back as Joe Stanevicz made a great cut to the sideline, and returned
Stanevicz during his 90 yrd
TD kick return
the kickoff 90 yards for the TD. The Extra point gave Bangor the 14 - 7 lead early in the 2nd.

Defenses took over from there, forcing punts from both teams. things seemed uneasy at halftime, as Lawrence fans weren't sure Bangor's defense could be cracked. Didn't take long to see, Lawrence's D was to be reckoned with as well.

Lawrence was able to tie the score at 14 off a nice 3 yard run by Blaisdell, all set up by a huge blow to the
head call on 3rd down. Blaisdell then set himself up for the score as he took the next snap to the 3 with an 18 yard run.

Lawrence took the lead on a spectacular play after holding Bangor to yet another 3 and out. Lawrence RB
Shaun Carroll took the hand off to the near side, got a block and was off to the races along the sideline. The entire Lawrence team went berserk and followed Carroll almost all the way to paydirt. The crowd and the team knew exactly what that score meant to the momentum which was squarely now in the Bulldogs' hands. The extra point put Lawrence on top at 21-14.

From that point on, Lawrence pounded out the run game on offense and pounded Bangor on defense.
Blaisdell ties the game at 14.
Seccareccia and the Bangor offense was held to under 40 yards in the 2nd half. The longest play of the half was an 8 yard pass which meant
clear and utter domination from the Lawrence defense.

Lawrence QB Spencer Carey passed only when needed, and Carroll and Blaisdell pounded Bangor's defense into submission.

As with the Western Maine playoffs, round 2 of this battle may be a doozy.

Carroll take it 80 yrd for
the game winner.
The trip home was short, and filled with reflection of the day just experienced. I've been a sports fan all my life, gone to hundreds, maybe thousands of pro and amateur games all over New England, but this day ranks far to the top. The sheer passion of the respective communities for High School sports was a site to behold. What a blast, a day like Saturday does not come around often, and I enjoyed every second!

Please, please, please take my advice, go out on Friday night or Saturday over the next month and catch some High School Football, you won't be sorry.





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