PORTLAND—The Eagles faced an uphill battle against a category-five Red Storm when the Class A State Championship got underway at Fitzpatrick Stadium on Saturday morning, Nov. 18. Windham battled admirably—as they have all season—but they simply had no answer for Scarborough’s spread of weapons, and the game went against them 57-0 in the end.
Windham head coach Matt Perkins complimented the opposition. “Scarborough, as I said the other week, one of the best high school football teams I’ve ever seen. They do a really good job—they don’t have many weak spots, that’s for sure, in any phase of the game.
“Lance (Johnson, Scarborough head coach) and his crew do a good job. Hats off to them. A great champion to represent Maine football and Class A very, very well.”
The Storm dominated from the get-go, Owen Garrard capping their opening drive with a one-yard rush TD. Scarborough then forced Windham into a quick punt; shortly thereafter, Garrard scored again, this time on a nine-yard run. The Storm would notch one more in the first quarter—on a 10-yard Jarrett Flaker dash—and two in the second: Garrard added his third on a two-yard push and QB Zoltan Panyi hooked up with Garrard for a three-yard pass tally.
“I thought we had a good week,” Perkins said, asked how he and his assistants and their players prepared for their rematch with the Storm. “We knew we were up against it. And we had some mistakes early today that cost us. We knew we couldn’t mess things up in the special teams; try to keep them off the field. A team like that, you can’t give them any opportunities.”
The Storm thus took a 36-0 lead into the break. They scored thrice more in the downhill half: Following a Jeremy Sendrowski interception of Windham QB Tanner Bernier, Panyi ran a 52-yarder home for 43-0; a few minutes later, Panyi sidled through the middle on a keeper and broke away for a 59-yarder and 50-0; finally, Garrard drove a three-yarder over the goal line midway through the last quarter.
“I’m very proud of my guys,” Perkins said. “They handled it with class, and played with class all year. They played with adversity and really did a good job.”
“We had some young guys that had to play,” Perkins elaborated. “Guys that we didn’t expect we’d have to take off JV had to play on varsity, and they stepped up. We had three guys today that, beginning of the year, we didn’t know they’d be on the field.”
Windham did stand up to the Storm on occasion, particularly through the first half. For example, they assembled a picturesque defensive stop midway through the second quarter, thanks to a couple huge tackles by Braxton Cassidy and a heavy-pressure rush on Panyi by George Butts, one that went in the books as an incomplete pass (Panyi got rid of the ball as he was tumbling to the turf) but perhaps should’ve registered as a sack. Regardless, it functioned to force a Scarborough punt.
Moreover, once it became clear the Eagles couldn’t play conservative football and still hope to win vs. Scarborough, they sagely began taking more risks, throwing with increasing frequency. Yes, Bernier ended the day with two picks to his name, but the team was employing the only strategy available to them with much hope for success. Besides, a number of Bernier’s passes also found their mark—usually Hunter Coffin or Nate Watson—for substantial gains or to move the chains. (Unfortunately, Coffin checked out late in the action with a separated shoulder, further hobbling Windham’s chances for getting on the board.)
“We wanted to attack the pass game anyway,” Perkins said, asked about the change in Windham’s game-plan. “We felt we had areas we could attack. We overthrew a couple and we dropped a couple. Against a team like this, you can’t miss opportunities.”
Then there was Windhamite Cameron Additon’s glorious interception of Panyi in the waning minutes of the second quarter. Additon returned the pick to Scarborough’s 42, and though the Eagles didn’t convert the takeaway into points, it was another small victory for them—another moral victory.
After all, Windham entered the game as the underdogs—and in a big way: the Eagles fell to the Storm 66-7 in week six of the regular season. Windham’s record otherwise this year was respectable: They went 4-4 across their schedule to enter the playoffs ranked fourth. In the bracketing, they dispatched Cheverus (No. 5), Portland (No. 6) and—most impressively—Edward Little (No. 1). They thus close out the autumn at 7-5.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Cameron Additon returns an intercepted ball in the second quarter.
Treva Valliere carries a ball up the middle for Windham.
Hunter Coffin turns and begins a run up the sideline after reeling in a pass.
Windhamite Connor McInnis tracks Scarborough ball-carrier Jarrett Flaker.
Tanner Bernier grabs a snap for the Eagles.
Eagles leaders Nate Watson (Captain, left), Connor McInnis (Captain, center) and Matt Perkins (Head Coach, right) accept the team’s State runners-up plaque.