BANGOR, Maine — A day full of nostalgic activities at Cameron Stadium concluded with a performance by the Bangor High School football team that also reflected the good old days.
Coach Mark Hackett’s club, which a year ago finished an uncharacteristic 3-6 with a roster dominated by sophomores and juniors, won its 2009 season opener in impressive fashion Saturday afternoon, building an early 21-0 lead and cruising to a 41-12 victory over defending Eastern Maine Class A champion Skowhegan.
“We paid our dues last year,” said Hackett, “but if you keep together as a team and work hard, you earn a game like this, and I think they earned it today.”
Bangor’s effort featured the multidimensional play of junior quarterback Joe Seccareccia and senior end Nate Henigan.
Seccareccia completed 9 of 14 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a perfectly timed 30-yard touchdown strike down the left sideline to senior flanker Ethan Vance early in the fourth quarter.
“I called that play myself,” said Seccareccia, a second-year starter. “I saw what was going to happen, and Ethan just put on the jets and ran right by their guy.”
Seccareccia also was a hitting machine on defense from his safety spot as Bangor contained Skowhegan’s double- wing rushing attack and withstood the Indians’ short passing game during the second half.
“Seccareccia does an unbelievable job on defense,” said Hackett. “He tackles like a linebacker and knocks down the ball.”
Henigan was Seccareccia’s primary offensive target with six catches for 82 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter.
Henigan and fellow ends Josiah Hartley and John Kelley also starred defensively in clamping down on the Skowhegan running game and pressuring McGowan. In addition Henigan handled kickoffs, converted five of six extra points and returned a blocked punt 52 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter to help the Rams get off to a quick start.
“Nate’s a wonderful player, and he never stops working,” said Hackett.
Senior tailback Lonnie Hackett added 103 rushing yards and two touchdowns for Bangor, while fullback Maxx Alexander also contributed to the Rams’ offensive balance with 43 yards on six carries in his first varsity start.
The game was held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the NFL preseason game between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers held on Sept. 5, 1959, and Bangor came out looking like the best of the Lombardi-era Packers over the first 15 minutes of play.
Bangor sandwiched a 30-yard touchdown run by Hackett and a 9-yard scoring run by Hartley around Henigan’s return of a punt blocked by Hartley to take command early in the second quarter.
“We came out of the locker room fired up,” Henigan said. “The coaches got us going, and we really didn’t stop. We pushed forward, and we kept going.”
But the Rams relaxed briefly, and Skowhegan rallied as Jordan McGowan hit Devin Withee with a 30-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 21-6. The Indians then threatened to narrow the gap further late in the second quarter, but McGowan fumbled a center snap at the Bangor 22 and Kelley recovered. Bangor broke the game open midway through the second half, with Seccareccia throwing touchdown passes to Henigan and Vance on back-to-back possessions.
“They didn’t play the middle of the field that well,” said Seccareccia, who missed his first three passes of the third quarter before connecting on six of his last seven tries for 90 yards. “So we had to use plays to take advantage of the middle of the field as best we could.”
Hackett scored on a 1-yard run to give the Rams a 41-6 lead with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Taylor Bradley scored on a 2-yard run on Skowhegan’s next possession, but the game was halted with 2:37 remaining by mutual consent after Bradley complained of discomfort in his neck and was taken off the field by ambulance as a precautionary measure.
Skowhegan had to scrap much of its double-wing approach after falling behind and finished with just 88 rushing yards on 38 tries. Bradley rushed 20 times for 84 yards to lead coach Mike Marston’s club in that category.
McGowan, who attempted just 39 passes last fall while guiding Skowhegan to a 10-2 record and a berth in the state championship game, completed 14 of 25 passes against Bangor for 168 yards and a touchdown.
Fullback Michael Roy had nine pass receptions for 83 yards.