The athletic programs at many schools are defined largely by success in a specific sport.
In recent years, for instance, Foxcroft Academy has been known for football, while Calais and Central Aroostook of Mars Hill are basketball havens.
Rarely does a schoolboy athletic program reach the state championship level in two major team disciplines in the same sports — let alone go undefeated in both sports. But that possibility now exists in Class A football and boys soccer, with Bangor High School currently 23-0 in those sports.
Obviously there’s a long and challenging trail separating the teams from regular-season excellence to adding new championship banners for both sports at Red Barry Gymnasium.
But so far, so good for the Rams.
Coach David Patterson’s top-ranked boys soccer team is 15-0 after Wednesday night’s 4-0 Eastern Maine quarterfinal victory over Lawrence of Fairfield, and the Rams have outscored their collective opposition by an astounding 64-1.
Yet all that means is that Bangor still must overcome three more tests before it can claim the program’s second state championship in four years.
First there’s No. 5 Erskine Academy of South China in Saturday’s semifinals, then a possible EM final against either rival Hampden Academy or perennial power Brunswick, the No. 2 seed that forced Bangor into penalty kicks during last week’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A championship match before the Rams prevailed.
And should Bangor survive those matches, it may face a state-final rematch with Scarborough. The Red Storm, who edged the Rams 1-0 in overtime in the 2008 title game, is 15-0 and top-ranked in Western A after its 4-0 quarterfinal victory over South Portland.
The Bangor football team, meanwhile, is 8-0 after its third undefeated regular season in the last 36 years.
Like the soccer team, coach Mark Hackett’s football club has been dominant, outscoring its opponents 296-112 during a run highlighted by its 28-21 victory over Lawrence of Fairfield, which has won one state title and two EM crowns in the last three years and was riding a 36-game winning streak.
The top-ranked Rams, in search of their first state crown since their last unbeaten season in 2001, open postseason play tonight against a resurgent Mt. Blue of Farmington team.
Bangor defeated the Cougars 44-26 earlier this fall, and a similar result would set up a semifinal against either No. 4 Messalonskee of Oakland — which lost to Bangor by a point earlier this season — or No. 5 Lewiston.
And looming in the regional final is a possible rematch with Lawrence.
Then in this scenario comes the state final at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland on Nov. 21 against the survivor of a deep Western A field led by unbeaten Thornton Academy of Saco, once-beaten Windham and Bonny Eagle of Standish, winner of four state titles in the last five years.
Stacking the odds even further is the fact only two Eastern Maine teams — Bangor in 2001 and Lawrence in 2006 — have won the Class A state title since Gabby Price’s Bangor club won it all in 1981.
That’s two state titles for the East in the last 28 years.
So for Bangor to become the first Class A school to win state titles in boys soccer and football in the same year — not to mention be unbeaten in both sports at the same time — there’s major work to be done.
But few, if any, programs have gotten even this close.