A pair of undefeated high school football coaches named Danny hope to remain that way this weekend as Week 5 unfolds.
Danny White’s Foxcroft Academy Ponies and Danny O’Connell’s John Bapst High School Crusaders, both 4-0, will each receive stern tests as Foxcroft Academy visits 3-1 Orono on the Red Riots’ Homecoming while John Bapst entertains 4-0 Bucksport for its homecoming Saturday night at Cameron Stadium in Bangor.
“We’ve played pretty well defensively but we still have some strides to make offensively if we’re going to make a deep run in the playoffs,” said White. “We move the ball efficiently at times but, at other times, the intensity level goes down and we don’t fire on all cylinders. We didn’t sustain a drive of more than 50 yards last week (in a 31-6 win over Stearns of Millinocket). We took advantage of some turnovers. Our defense gave us some short fields.”
O’Connell’s Crusaders have benefited from a favorable schedule that has included wins over first-year programs Hermon and Washington Academy of East Machias.
And O’Connell prepared his team for the schedule.
“We saw this ahead of time so we preached to the kids to not worry so much about the opponent but concern yourselves with getting better every week. We have to raise the bar. This will be a great midseason barometer for where we’re at,” said O’Connell.
FOXCROFT (4-0) at Orono (3-1), Friday, 7 p.m., Orono High School field: The Ponies have averaged 43 points per game and can hurt opponents on the ground and in the air. Center Brent Thomas and tackle Louis LaFache have stood out in the offensive line. Running back Don Boyer has rushed for more than 300 yards and is averaging 10 yards per carry and Zac Smith is averaging more than seven yards per carry.
Quarterback Chris Shorey has thrown for close to 500 yards and has tossed seven touchdown passes while being intercepted just once. Ryan Rebar has eight catches for 194 yards.
“We have to contain their offense,” said Orono coach Bob Sinclair. “They’re very talented. They do the same things they’ve done for many years, their I-option attack, and they’re very good at it. We’ve got to control the football and keep it away from their offense.”
Rebar has been a defensive catalyst with seven interceptions. Linebackers Alex Stevens, Cody Coiley and Wesley Stinson along with defensive end Zac Smith head the unit.
Orono running back Dom Mowrer is well on his way to a third straight 1,000-yard rushing season with more than 600 yards and he is averaging more than 10 yards per carry. Brother Christian has more than 300 yards and an average in excess of seven yards per try. Jack Lucy, Sam Chase and Mac Seavey have been the mainstays on the offensive line.
“Their running game poses huge problems,” said White. “Mowrer and his two brothers (Christian and Cameron) put a lot of pressure on you with their speed. You have to take good (tackling) angles on defense.” Tyler Higgins, Dom and Cameron Mowrer and Chase key the defense.
BUCKSPORT (4-0) at John Bapst (4-0), Saturday, 7 p.m., Cameron Stadium: These two teams have had some great battles in recent years. The last four games have been decided by seven points or less with John Bapst winning three of them including last year’s 7-6 nail-biter.
The Crusaders love to air it out with their spread offense and quarterback Devin Romain is having a terrific year, throwing for more than 600 yards to a posse of receivers. Six Crusaders have caught at least three passes with Jacob Moore and Max Andrews catching more than 20 balls between them.
But O’Connell points out that “we are trying to stay as balanced as possible and, so far, we’ve been able to do that.” He feels his team will have to avoid turning the ball over because it can’t afford to give Bucksport’s versatile offense a short field. “They’ve got a lot of good athletes. They have a lot of weapons. They attack you on all fronts,” said O’Connell.
Those weapons include double-threat quarterback Mike Cummings, who has run and thrown for more than 200 yards each and has completed more than 60 percent of his passes. Ten different Bucks have caught at least one pass.
Cummings has averaged more than 10 yards per run. Shawn Smith and Chris Powell have gained around seven yards per carry. Andrew Catlin has paced the John Bapst running game. Andrews, Nick Jordan, Kurt Massey, Catlin, Chris Coleman and Brandon Blustajn have led the defense along with Josh Baker and Austin Spencer. The Bucks defense features sophomore Nick Bishop and freshman Gabe Stearns along with Jordan Fogg and Powell.
BANGOR (3-1) at Mount Ararat (0-4), Friday, 7 p.m., Topsham: The Rams hope to keep the momentum going against a Mount Ararat team that returned just four starters, all on defense, off an 0-8 team a year ago. The Rams have scored 101 points in their last two wins behind an offensive line that has produced gaping holes for a stable of running backs. The line is composed of center Brendan Moore, guards Brandon Vang and Greg Duff, tackles Elijah Hughes and Aaron Huntington and tight end Ellis Throckmorton. Zeb Tuell and Wyatt Frost have been the primary beneficiaries of the line play and first-year starter Carl Farnham went 6-for-11 for 151 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 50-19 win over Cony of Augusta.
GARDINER (3-1) at Hampden (3-1), Friday, 7 p.m., Weatherbee Complex: This will an intriguing matchup between two playoff contenders. The Tigers will have to find a way to neutralize the speedy tandem of Nick Stevens and Logan Steward, who have combined for 15 touchdowns in the Broncos’ last two victories. The Broncos have scored 120 points in their last two wins. Gardiner will try to rebound from a 43-26 loss to Mt. Blue of Farmington in a battle of unbeatens. Gardiner star running back Alonzo Connor, who rushed for 2032 yards and 32 touchdowns a year ago, injured his elbow against Mt. Blue and was sidelined. If he can’t play, backs Steve Sirois, Dennis Meehan, Matt Hall and Justin Lovely will have to pick up the slack.
CALAIS-WOODLAND (1-3) at Washington Academy (0-4), Friday, 7 p.m., East Machias: This will mark the historic start of a Washington County rivalry between the first-year Raiders of Washington Academy and Calais-Woodland, which is in its fourth year. Running backs Cordell Hold and Ryan Johnson are among Calais-Woodland’s offensive catalysts while quarterback-linebacker Nick Pineo and running back-linebacker Zac Ragot have been standouts for WA. Calais-Woodland beat Hermon 8-6 while WA lost to the Hawks 21-16.