HERMON, Maine — Hermon High School’s first three years in Class C North football produced two winless seasons, including an 0-8 finish last fall.
That won’t be the case this year after the Hawks opened the 2016 campaign with a 28-20 victory over John Bapst of Bangor last Friday.
While smiles were plentiful in the aftermath of a victory that ended a 13-game losing skid, thoughts soon turned toward the work required to establish a winning streak.
“They’re ready to go,” said Brad Deuring, the former Husson University lineman in his third year as Hermon’s head coach. “They’re ready to move onto Waterville.”
While the Hawks may not be ready to challenge Winslow’s two-year stranglehold on the Class C state championship yet, they are looking toward better days ahead.
Forty-five players began preseason workouts with the team four weeks ago. Forty-five players remain with a balance of players among the four classes.
“It’s a group effort, and they know that,” said Deuring, who used 28 players in the varsity encounter against John Bapst. “We keep preaching that it’s ‘we before me,’ and they’ve been doing a great job with it.”
Hermon got big-play efforts from several sources during its Week 1 win.
Junior wideout Keenan Marseille, a varsity basketball player competing in football for the first time, returned a punt for a touchdown and caught a slant pass for another score.
“Keenan’s been working hard,” said Deuring. “He’s been doing a good job and has been a good leader. He’s been staying after practice with a bunch of guys to get some extra reps in.”
Classmate Tyler Carmichael added a 68-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep, and junior Nick Page was the workhorse ball carrier on a final scoring drive orchestrated by senior quarterback Connor Magliozzi that produced the clinching touchdown.
“The unsung heroes were the guys up front, they worked hard,” said Deuring. “Of course, there’s things we can fix, but it was good to see these guys work hard. We didn’t get down at the half when we were down 14-12, the kids just continued to play.”
Hermon plays its home opener Friday night at Pottle Field against a Waterville team coming off a 50-17 loss to Old Town last Saturday. The Purple Panthers were unable to stop an Old Town offense led by T.J. Crawford’s 247 rushing yards, but for the Hawks, there’s no taking anything for granted.
“That’s a proud program, and they’re going to come out fighting,” Deuring said. “I don’t see those guys rolling over, they’ll be ready to go.
“We’re not going to hang our hats on Week 1,” he added, “but it helps.”
Windham Eagles (1-0) at Bangor Rams (0-1), 7 p.m. Friday: Coming off an 18-8 loss at Edward Little of Auburn in Week 1, Bangor welcomes one of the preseason favorites in Class A North to Cameron Stadium for its home opener. Windham is led by one of the state’s most experienced quarterbacks in senior Desmond Leslie, who passed for two touchdowns and rushed for a third in Windham’s 41-8 win over Lewiston. Bangor is expected to still be without two key players in Luke Tuell and Philip Slick, both sidelined by early season injuries.
Mt. Blue Cougars (0-1) at Brewer Witches (1-0), 7 p.m. Friday — BDN Game of the Week: A rebuilding Mt. Blue team — 20 of its 22 starters from a year ago graduated last June — struggled against Taylor Heath and the Cony of Augusta passing offense in a 41-22 loss. The Cougars must try to regroup against a powerful Brewer rushing attack. The Witches churned out a 38-20 win at Nokomis of Newport last Saturday with halfback Trey Wood rushing for 141 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Cody Wood was an efficient five of six passing for 61 yards, and the Brewer first-team defense pitched a shutout through three quarters. The Brewer-Mt. Blue game will be streamed live at bangordailynews.com.
Madison-Carrabec Bulldogs (1-0) vs. Foxcroft Academy Ponies (0-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Dover-Foxcroft: This battle at Oakes Field matches two Class C North teams with high expectations that split two meetings a year ago. Madison-Carrabec shut out Oceanside of Rockland-Thomaston, with Sean Whalen and Nick Morales combining for more than 200 rushing yards. Foxcroft took the tough trip to Mount Desert Island and trimmed a 21-0 second-quarter deficit to a single point before falling 28-20. Senior running back-linebacker Billy Brock was a two-way standout for the Ponies.
Bucksport Golden Bucks (1-0) vs. Maine Central Institute Huskies (1-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Pittsfield: MCI extended its winning streak against LTC Class D North foes since the start of the 2015 season to 21 games with a Week 1 win against Stearns of Millinocket. Josh Buker threw four touchdown passes in his first start at quarterback and also returned a punt for a touchdown. Bucksport, led by junior quarterback Chase Carmichael, eased past Washington Academy of East Machias in its opener but faces a much more formidable challenge in trying to slow down the two-time defending regional champs.
Dexter Tigers (1-0) vs. Mattanawcook Academy Lynx (1-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Lincoln: Two 2015 LTC Class D North playoff teams will square off in an early bid to get the jump on one of the four postseason berths available. Both teams showed the potential for diversified offenses in their season openers, with quarterbacks Carter Ward of Mattanawcook and Brayden Miller of Dexter each throwing two touchdown passes to complement their teams’ respective rushing attacks.