ROCKPORT — The Camden Hills football team made history Saturday.
The Windjammers, a second-year varsity program, earned their first regular-season win by outscoring Nokomis of Newport 60-28 in Class B play at Don Palmer Field.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Linwood Downs, head coach of the Camden Hills program since its inception as a club team. “There’s been a lot of hard work done since 2005. I’m very proud of my staff, the kids obviously, and the entire organization that put this together. I’m very proud of everybody associated with Camden Hills football today.”
The Windjammers earned that win with a rushing attack that totaled 501 yards while averaging 15.6 yards per carry.
Quarterback Collin Downs, the coach’s son, led the way with 276 yards and six touchdowns on 15 rushes. One of the state’s top sprinters in Class B track, the senior scored on runs of 55, 57, 31 and 56 yards as well as two 1-yard sneaks.
“Their quarterback is a great player,” said Nokomis coach Haggie Pratt. “We thought we had a plan to contain him, but we just couldn’t tackle him.”
Downs credited linemen Taylor Harrison, Brandon Graffam, Owen Mahan, Travis Milner and James Gushee and fullback Adam Landwehr.
“We have an excellent line this year, and they did a great job of executing their assignments every single play, doing the right thing every single play,” he said.
Jacob Powers added 187 yards and three TDs in the first half before cramps limited him to one carry after intermission.
“We have a good backfield this year, they know how to get to a hole and cut off blocks,” said coach Downs. “But the line did a great job today, 500 yards is unbelievable.”
Camden Hills struggled at times defensively against a Nokomis offense featuring junior quarterback Nathan Michaud. He completed 14 of 33 passes for 182 yards, including eight passes for 123 yards to junior wideout Cody Pelletier.
“We worked hard during the offseason and we played seven-on-seven, and all the things we worked on during the summer we did well today,” said Pratt. “We were missing a few players, but that’s part of the game, and then it got worse when we had some injuries. We’ve got decent skill-position players, but we need to stay healthy.”
Jake Welch scored three TDs for Nokomis on runs of 1 and 15 yards and a 25-yard reception.
The Warriors’ defense was stubborn early, preventing Camden Hills from scoring after the Windjammers drove inside the Nokomis 10 on their first possession.
But Camden Hills linebacker Jake Halberg recovered an errant Warriors’ center snap moments later, setting up a 1-yard scoring run by Downs.
Drew Wing returned the next kickoff 70 yards to the Camden Hills 16 to set up a tying 1-yard touchdown run by Welch, but Powers raced 62 yards to the end zone on the Windjammers’ next play from scrimmage.
Nokomis then marched 65 yards in eight plays, with Dan Tucker scoring from the 10 to forge a 14-14 tie with 28 seconds left in the first quarter.
Downs’ 55-yard scoring run, a keeper up the middle that he broke down the left sideline, gave Camden Hills the lead for good 53 seconds into the second quarter. A 1-yard dive by Downs made it 28-14, and Powers scored from the 20 to make it 34-14 with 3:54 left in the half.
Michaud used a 26-yard completion to Pelletier to set up his 25-yard scoring strike to Welch to cut the gap to 34-22.
Downs then fired a 38-yard pass to Dakota Summers one play before Powers scored on a 12-yard sprint to give Camden Hills a 20-point halftime lead.
Welch scored from 15 yards out early in the third period to draw Nokomis within 42-28, but the Camden Hills defense — aided by two interceptions by Summers — held the Warriors scoreless the rest of the way while Downs added three long scoring runs.
“This win’s been a long time coming through a lot of hard work, and it means a lot to us,” said Landwehr. “We all wondered if we were going to get it or not. We didn’t get it last year but with six strong seniors we knew we were going to get it this year and it happened to come in the first game.”