Barry Terrill had received similar phone calls. And, by his own admission, he had developed high expectations only to be disappointed.
So when Tehon Fox’s mother had called him from her home in Bermuda and left a message on his answering machine that her son was interested in playing football at his new school, Washington Academy in East Machias, Terrill didn’t give it a second thought.
“I brushed it off. I could tell (from her accent) she was from a different country so I figured she meant international football, which is soccer,” said Washington Academy head football coach Terrill who has been burned like that in the past.
But Fox’s mother meant American football and when her son showed up to inquire after moving into his dorm, Terrill embraced Fox into the fledgling football program.
And he was rewarded on Friday night when Fox scampered 62 yards as time expired to give the first-year program its first victory, a 38-32 triumph over Washington County rival Calais-Woodland.
“It was unbelievable. It was like a walk-off win in baseball to clinch a series or a playoff spot,” said Terrill. “I’ve been involved in the LTC since being a player (at Orono High) in the mid 1990s and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Fox had been a starting defensive end but because he missed preseason, Terrill has been slowly integrating him into the offense.
“It takes a while to learn the offense,” explained Terrill.
After Andrew Farnsworth snuffed out a Calais-Woodland threat to score a go-ahead touchdown with an interception in the final minute of play, Terrill said Fox “came running over to me and said how about a 31 toss.
“I told him to be ready, that we would probably call it in overtime. But we gained 15 yards on the next play so, with four seconds left, we decided to call it,” said Terrill.
Fox, making his first carry of the game, dashed around the end, cut back and broke “four or five tackles” en route to the end zone.
“One of their tacklers had an angle on him from behind and another was in front of him and he split them and they ran into each other,” recalled Terrill.
Terrill said one of the advantages Fox had was he had fresh legs because he had only played on defense while most of the Calais-Woodland players had played both ways “so they were exhausted. They had played their hearts out like our kids.
“It was perfect. I told the coaches we couldn’t have written a better script (for the first Washington County bowl),” said Terrill. “There was a huge crowd.”
He has been “extremely pleased” with the progress of his team, which was five years in the making after four seasons with club status.
”Considering we’re a first-year program, I think we’ve been very competitive,” said Terrill, who was a former assistant coach at Orono and John Bapst.
“It’s a very coachable group and we’ve gotten better every week,” he said.
The Raiders are 1-4 but could have two wins. They lost a 21-16 heart-breaker to fellow first-year program Hermon.
He said they also played well in losses to John Bapst of Bangor (39-18) and Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield (32-12).
Quarterback-linebacker Nick Pineo has been one of the team leaders.
“He was all over the field against Calais-Woodland,” said Terrill.
Terrill also said they have received consistently solid performances from sophomore Mike McBrine, a fullback-linebacker; junior Farnsworth, one of the LTC’s leading receivers and also a defensive back; guard and defensive tackle Nick Burrill and offensive tackle-defensive end Tyler Warner.
McBrine has replaced standout Zac Ragot at fullback after Ragot was lost for the season with a fractured leg.
Terrill said he has been blessed to received “great support” from school administrators and athletic director Blaine Steeves and he pointed out they have established a first-year junior high program which will pay dividends in the future.