The Bangor High School football team reached new heights with its passing attack last weekend, just in time to score its most important victory to date this season.
Those heights were represented in part by 6-foot-6 junior quarterback Joe Seccareccia, who looked over the Bulldogs’ defense to find 6-foot-4 Josiah Hartley and 6-foot-3 Nate Henigan for 11 completions good for 170 yards and a touchdown during Bangor’s 28-21 Week 7 win that left the Rams as the lone remaining unbeaten team in Eastern Maine Class A.
“We had some tough matchups with their height and their athleticism,” said Lawrence coach John Hersom. “We would have guys closing in on them, but they did a nice job warding our tacklers off and continuing to gain yards.”
Perhaps the best example of that edge came early in the fourth quarter, when Seccareccia spotted Hartley racing down the right sideline and lofted a pass that his junior wideout caught over a defender just as he reached the goal line.
“I saw [6-foot-2 tight end] John Kelley in the slot,” said Seccareccia. “He wasn’t open but I saw Josiah streaking up the sideline and I knew he’d be a great receiver to throw to.”
Perhaps Hartley’s most athletic moment during that play was staying inbounds as he reached the right front corner of the end zone.
“I knew I had an advantage and I knew the ball would be up there and my job was to jump up and catch it,” said Hartley, who now has 14 receptions for 306 yards and five touchdowns on the season. “The first thing I did was look for the pylon and try to get the ball over it.”
Hartley finished the game with six receptions for 114 yards in helping Bangor end Lawrence’s 36-game, regular-season winning streak.
“That kid could dunk a basketball as a freshman — in a game,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett of Hartley. “He’s 6-4 or 6-5 and he’s running down there where most defensive backs aren’t that tall, then he’s going up after it and pulling it down. He made some great catches.”
Henigan, who ran mostly shorter routes than Hartley, added five catches for 56 yards — with four of the plays resulting in first downs. The senior now has a team-leading 23 catches for 277 yards this fall.
“Josiah and Nathan and John Kelley all made some big plays for us, and we have someone throwing to them who’s becoming a great quarterback,” said Hackett. “To get to where we want to be and win games like this, they have to play and we have to utilize them.”
That passing attack complemented a steady ground game keyed by senior tailback Lonnie Hackett (38 carries, 170 yards, three touchdowns) to provide a balance Lawrence couldn’t match in this showdown for first place in the Pine Tree Conference Class A ranks.
Hackett, one of the state’s leading ground gainers, has 1,431 yards and 17 touchdowns on 172 carries. Seccareccia has completed 48 of 91 passes for 770 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions for the Rams as they prepare for Friday night’s regular-season finale against Brewer.
“They’re going to be a tough team to defend this week, next week, the week after,” said Hersom. “Whenever we see them again we’ll have another challenge on our hands.”
Bapst, FA post strong numbers
The final Friday night of the Eastern Maine high school football season features yet another clash of the unbeatens, as defending Class C champion John Bapst of Bangor visits 2007 state champion Foxcroft Academy in a 7 p.m. opening kickoff from Oakes Field in Dover-Foxcroft.
At stake is the top seed for the eight-team LTC playoffs that begin the following weekend, with the John Bapst-Foxcroft winner likely to assume the No. 1 spot.
These rivals have combined for a 43-5 regular-season record over the last three years, with John Bapst 22-2 since the start of the 2007 campaign and Foxcroft 21-3 — with all three losses coming last year, including two at John Bapst.
Those two wins by the Crusaders, a 32-26 regular-season decision and a 41-22 victory in the LTC semifinals, marked John Bapst’s first wins over the Ponies since 1995.
Those two victories also are part of an 18-game winning streak the Crusaders will carry into Friday night’s game.
Foxcroft, meanwhile, is bouncing back from last year’s 6-4 finish, the first time the Ponies had lost more than one regular-season game in a season since 2001 and the first time they had not advanced beyond the LTC semifinals since 2000.
Under first-year head coach Danny White, this year’s Foxcroft team has fielded one of the state’s stingiest defenses, with its first-string defense yielding just one touchdown — by Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln on the first drive against the Ponies this season.
Overall, Foxcroft has allowed just 27 points in seven games to share the state low with undefeated Class B West powers Mountain Valley of Rumford and Cape Elizabeth — who also will square off this weekend for the top seed in that division.
Both teams have potent offenses, with Foxcroft averaging 45.6 points per game and John Bapst at 34.6 points per contest.
Last year John Bapst went on the road to defeat Bucksport 21-14 in the regional final, avenging a 40-39 overtime loss in the opening week of the season.
Foxcroft, which edged John Bast 14-7 at Oakes Field in the 2007 LTC final, is 46-1 in its last 47 games on its home turf — the only blemish a 14-12 loss to Mattanawcook Academy in its 2008 season opener.