FREEPORT—Case in point: The Patriots vs. the Falcons, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 23. Two programs, battling to develop, each winless through the first three weeks of the 2017 season. Both teams took to the field hoping for a competitive bout; both had gameplanned extensively. Only one, though – Freeport – executed like they needed to, and it allowed them to soar easily over G-NG. 41-6 the final.
“I was hoping to be way more competitive than we were today,” said Patriots head coach Duane Greaton. “A couple of key injuries, obviously: We lost our senior Captain runningback for the season, Boomer Simmons, he’s got a torn labrum – pretty much because of this game here, last year. They had hoped he could rehab through it. But that’s fine; we’ve got to move on. So we went through it with a lot of sophomores and freshmen running the ball. We’re going to take our growing lumps along the way. Still, not happy with how we executed. We gameplanned very well for this; we just did not execute.”
See, in a battle of 0-3s, it might not seem like much is on the line, but it is. These teams may not be bound for States, but that merely means States isn’t the goal: clinching the last playoff berth is – or even clinching a single win. Because wherever a proud squad ranks, the achievement that seems just out of reach is the one they hunger after: Going 1-7 in a season when you appeared fated to go 0-8 may not feel quite the same as hoisting a gold ball…but it still feels mighty sweet.
So, props are due to the long list of Falcons who contributed to the big W, from Seniors like Josh Burke and Mike Foss all the way down to freshmen like Justin Cogswell. And props, too, are due to the Patriots who never gave up – including lone scorer Trent Overcash – and who will no doubt come out fighting just as hard next week.
The Falcons put up 14 points in the first on TDs by Adam Ulrickson and Burke. They put up 14 in the second, too: Wide receiver Mike Foss, scooting through the G-NG end zone around the 9:35 mark, caught a pretty pass from QB Josh Burke and, six minutes later, James Knighton ran a short score home.
“We felt very prepared coming in,” Greaton said. “But from the very first drive, from us not hitting the hole that was called and not getting the first down – pretty much the air went out of the balloon at that point.”
The Patriots weren’t without their moments, though: Isaiah Thongsavangh sacked Burke early in the third to force a Falcons punt, and Jaykob Sanborn ran a slick, winding route for 23 on the first snap of the ensuing G-NG series. But the visitors couldn’t put it all together, and all too soon turned the ball over again, allowing Freeporter Jacob Tomm to post the Falcons’ fifth touchdown of the afternoon late in the quarter. Cogswell then tallied their sixth midway through the fourth.
Greaton is new to the team – but not new to G-NG football, or some of the kids. “The freshmen and sophomores, we’ve coached all those guys all the way through. We’ve got seven upperclassmen, juniors and seniors, so we’re going to take our growing lumps. The future looks bright, but it’s going to be rough for now; we knew that coming in. But that’s still no excuse for the lack of performance today.”
The Patriots did eventually get on the board: Overcash returned the kickoff following Cogswell’s touchdown to first and 10 at G-NG’s own 33. From there, Overcash took a stab left, but found himself stuffed. He tried again on second and 10 – and this time managed to break away, zipping 69 long yards into Freeport’s end zone for 41-6. Those points, however, would prove the last of the day.
“For some reason, our linemen start communicating again,” Greaton said of the snap on which Overcash scored, “pick up their blocks, know their assignments, and we were able to hit the outside. What I don’t understand is why that doesn’t happen every play during the game. Just mental lapses and non-communication. Growing pains.”
“The beauty of it is, when we scored at the end, those kids that came in at the end didn’t quit,” Greaton said. “They still kept playing football. Which is something to build on.”
Freeport, of course, advances to 1-3 with the victory. The Falcons are, in fact, currently ranked eighth in C South; if they can hold on to that slot, they will reach the tournament. Of course, several tough regular-season bouts still remain ahead of them.
The Falcons host Spruce Mountain on Saturday the 30th, then travel to Morse on Friday the 6th. The close out their schedule vs. Gardiner on the 14th and Yarmouth on the 20th.
The Patriots slide on the loss to 0-4. If the team is going to pick up a win this fall – and there’s plenty of hope that they still might – it’s most likely to come against Medomak Valley on the 6th or Yarmouth on the 13th. Next week, they travel to Cape Elizabeth.
Greaton was quick to praise both Thongsavangh and Overcash. “All I heard up in the booth, was ‘Isaiah Thongsavangh,’ especially at nose tackles,” he said. “[Isaiah] stayed in on every play, tried to get in on every tackle, knew his assignment on every play. We had a lot of guys that went off from their gaps assignment. But that’s all I heard upstairs, was ‘Isaiah.’ Isaiah was literally mentioned, positively, on the headphones all day long.”
“[Overcash] has scored both our touchdowns this year, as a freshman,” Greaton said. “And they’ve both been long runs, 60-plus yard runs.”
Greaton seemed upbeat when asked if his kids are committed, despite their losing streak. “Oh yeah, they’re buying in,” he said. “Everybody’s coming to practices. We had a lot of kids that wanted to join on late, but obviously with the high school rules, compared to middle school, they can’t join on late.”
“We’re going to continue to grow the program,” Greaton said. “We’re graduating four seniors, one of them is out for the season as it is, and we’ll backfill those classes. We’re having success, Monday afternoons; we’re winning all our JV games. But still, this is priority number one. And I want to get these kids a win; these kids deserve a win on Friday night or Saturday afternoon.”
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME
Jaykob Sanborn carries for the Patriots at Freeport on Saturday.
Isaiah Thongsavangh ditches a would-be Freeport tackler and dashes forward.
The G-NG line jumps off their mark after the snap.
Scott Lynch carries for the Patriots at Freeport on Saturday.
G-NGer Trent Overcash tallied the team’s only TD on Saturday.