The Bucksport Golden Bucks were a study in football physicality Friday night.
From bone-jarring blocks to tackle-breaking runs, their downhill version of the game proved too much for Hermon. Coach Joel Sankey’s Class D North leaders remained undefeated with a 28-0 victory over the Class C Hawks before a sizeable homecoming crowd at Pottle Field in Hermon.
“We knew this was going to be a good test so we had to come in here and show everybody we’re a good team,” Bucksport sophomore running back Josh Miller said.
Miller was part of a three-pronged machine that amassed 277 of Bucksport’s 287 rushing yards behind the line play of seniors David Gross and Dawson Eaton, juniors Owen Gaudreau, Gavin Billings and Julian Shook and senior tight end Cameron Soper.
Freshman Jaxon Gross (20 carries, 102 yards), sophomore Ty Giberson (10-80) and Miller (16-95) all had their moments, but none more impressive than Miller’s 24-yard, third-quarter scoring burst for the final touchdown of the game.
Leading 21-0, Bucksport had just regained possession when Skylar McNair recovered a muffed Hermon punt return. On the next play, Miller powered through the line and then broke a succession of tackle attempts to score his third touchdown of the night and extend the lead with two minutes left in the period.
“The line opened amazing holes for me. I just stayed low and broke through all those tackles and got into the end zone,” Miller said. “We worked hard all offseason pounding the weights, and we always push each other in practice. It’s paying off now.”
The 5-0 Golden Bucks held the Hawks (3-2) to 48 yards of total offense while securing their third consecutive shutout victory.
The effort included six sacks of Hermon quarterback Wyatt Gogan as the Hawks managed just 26 rushing yards on 27 attempts.
Bucksport’s season-long defensive might — it has allowed just 13 points through five games — was evident from the opening moments of this contest.
Hermon took possession for the first time at the Bucksport 37-yard line less than two minutes into the game after a 5-yard punt.
But David Gross — already a two-time Little Ten Conference lineman of the year — sacked Gogan for a 9-yard loss on first down, and the Hermon quarterback was sacked again by Soper and Billings for an 11-yard loss on third down to force the Hawks to punt on fourth-and-34.
“Our coaches in practice put us in those positions all the time, they put everything against us and try to make us fail but we just push through it,” David Gross said.
Bucksport marched 64 yards on 11 rushing plays to take a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter on Miller’s 2-yard scoring run and the first of four successful extra-point kicks by Giberson.
Hermon’s Travis Spell ran out of punt formation when another quarterback sack by Soper forced a three-and-out by the Hawks, and Giberson knocked Spell out of bounds 2 yards short of the first-down marker to give Bucksport possession at the Hawks’ 45.
Miller scored on another 2-yard run to cap off a seven-play, 45-yard march and make it 14-0 with 8:16 left before intermission.
Bucksport got the ball back with 3:44 left in the half and unveiled a passing game both accurate and adept at time management.
Senior Brady Findlay, the reigning LTC player of the week after passing for 218 yards and five touchdowns during a Week 4 victory over Mount View of Thorndike, used the clock and the sideline masterfully in driving Bucksport 74 yards in 10 plays.
He completed all three of his passes during the march, with strikes of 17 yards to Soper, 16 yards to junior Logan Stanley and 7 yards to sophomore Tyler Hallett to set up Jaxon Gross’ 2-yard scoring run with 23.6 seconds left in the half.