Senior wide receiver and cornerback Keegan Cyr said the Bangor High School football team has embraced a “next-man-up” mentality this season.
The Rams couldn’t have embodied that mindset any more than on Friday night. Half of the team remained home in quarantine because of COVID-19 issues for Bangor’s road game against a Scarborough team that had won 34 of its previous 44 games.
Despite missing 12 starters and dressing only 28 players, the Rams stunned Scarborough 37-36. Sophomore wide receiver Landon Clark recovered a fumble by his brother, senior quarterback Max Clark, in the end zone on the final play of the game.
Cyr, who caught a career-high 13 passes for 205 yards, called it a culture-changing win.
“Our senior class has been together since seventh grade. This is our time. This is our last year. We think we can win a state championship,” Cyr said. “Nobody thought we could beat Scarborough even before the COVID outbreak.”
“It was a great win,” said fourth-year head coach Dave Morris. “The (assistant) coaches and kids did a tremendous job.
“Even though we had a lot of kids out, the kids we had were resilient. It was a great example of not worrying about the outcome, just taking it one play at a time,” Morris said. “It was a gutsy win. We had kids who played every snap. We had kids playing out of position.”
Morris said senior place-kicker Parker Richmond, who had never played football before this year, saw time on the defensive line.
“He held his own,” Cyr said.
Richmond also kicked a field goal and converted all the extra-point kicks.
Senior Kevin Grover, who normally just plays linebacker, also saw duty as a tight end and tailback on offense. Senior Cooper Ireland played a variety of positions on the offensive and defensive lines. He usually just plays defense.
Center Luke Missbrenner played a lot at linebacker and forced a fumble that was recovered by Ireland, right before halftime, deep in Bangor territory.
Bangor trailed 36-31 when it got the ball inside its 30-yard line with just 1:40 remaining. Max Clark engineered a long drive.
There were 6.1 seconds left when he took the snap from center and tried to leap over the pile into the end zone. He was stripped of the ball by a Scarborough defender, but the ball rolled into the end zone where his brother recovered it.
“Landon was around 10 feet away from the ball but he saw it and went into the pile for it,” Morris said.
“My brother saved me,” Max Clark said. “I was supposed to spike the ball but I tried to go up and over the line and the ball got stripped.”
Landon Clark caught two TD passes from his brother and finished with five catches for 113 yards.
“I owe him some dinners,” said Max, who completed 30 of 46 passes for 426 yards and three touchdowns.
“He did a great job engineering the offense and throwing the football,” said Morris.
The passes attempted, completions and yards were all personal highs for the son of Husson University head football coach Nat Clark.
Like Ireland, two-way lineman Mike Smith played virtually every snap. Landon Clark, Cyr and Ryan Howard manned the secondary in addition to their duties as wide receivers.
Jake Hirsch was a two-way lineman and Morris said he did an excellent job punting.
Jack Schuck made a critical tackle on a two-point conversion attempt by Scarborough.
Running back Joey Morrison ran for a touchdown and caught a TD pass. He gained 63 yards on 10 carries and caught seven passes for 89 yards.
“We were confident we could win before the COVID situation and we didn’t bat an eyelash after we learned about COVID,” Max Clark said. “We trust each other. We were proud of each other on the bus ride home.”
The 3-0 Rams travel to Thornton Academy of Saco on Friday night to take on the 3-0 Trojans, who have won four of the last eight Class A state championships.
The players under quarantine will be eligible to return to the team on Saturday. Bangor athletic administrator Steve Vanidestine has asked TA athletic director Gary Stevens to push the game to Saturday so they can regain some of those players.
“Gary is a very good guy but I don’t expect them to change it,” Vanidestine said. “So we will be ready to go on Friday night.”
Morris said the Rams will be prepared for the challenge.
“This is another great opportunity to play a very good team,” Max Clark said . “I don’t think anyone expects us to win but we’ll go out and play to the best of our ability.”