WELLS – Andrew Staples claims to hate country music, yet has listened to a Kenny Chesney song ad naseum since last November.

” ‘The Boys of Fall’ is our theme,” said Staples, a captain and two-way lineman for unbeaten Wells High. “Every single day I hear it.”

 

“When I feel that chill, smell that fresh cut grass

I’m back in my helmet, cleats and shoulder pads

Standin’ in the huddle listenin’ to the call

Fans goin’ crazy for the boys of fall”

 

That half the high school football teams across America may also have adopted the anthem makes no difference to Staples and his Warrior teammates. It speaks to them, in the weight room, in the locker room, over the loudspeakers as they take the field.

“It basically describes what we’ve done and who we are,” Staples said. “It’s a motivational thing for us to go for the gold.”

Wells (11-0) will play Eastern Maine champion Leavitt (11-0) for the Class B state championship at 6:06 p.m. Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. This marks the third straight title game for Leavitt. Wells hasn’t played this deep into November since 1997.

Staples, at right guard, and Corey Dennison, at left guard, lead the way for Wells, not only toward the Gold Ball, but on sweeps and roll-out passing plays designed for mobile quarterback Paul McDonough.

The days of being content with pure beef on the interior line are long past, particularly in a wing-T offense that calls on guards to beat speedy running backs to the corner and clear a passage.

“It’s amazing the amount of skill it takes,” said Wells line coach Carmen Perri. “We talk all the time about how athletic you have to be in our offense. With those guards pulling and blocking in space, that’s truly a tough athletic thing to do. They’re always on the move, quite simply. They do a great job.”

Of the two guards, Dennison is the quiet one, serious and self-motivated. In winter he wrestles and after practice frequently visits Perri in the weight room for something extra, say 100 pushups to top off his workout.

Staples is more outgoing. He’s the guy greeting each player during pregame introductions with a chest bump or helmet clasp. Perri said Staples wasn’t fit enough to play both ways last season.

“Andrew was a kid who never cared much for the weight room, really,” he said.

But a loss to Mountain Valley in the Western Maine final lit a fire under Staples heading into his senior season.

“I asked him if he would make a promise to me about being able to get himself in shape,” Perri said. “And that kid, he’s just turned into a great leader, a great captain. He was in the weight room constantly. Quite a turnaround for a kid that I used to have to browbeat all the time to get him to do things.”

Staples and Dennison are surrounded on the line by fellow seniors. Eliott Paquette is a three-year starter at center. Connor Mullins and Mike DiSalvo have taken over at the tackles. Josh Ingalls is a tight end with superior blocking skills.

“Our line is probably the best part of our team,” said running back Louis DiTomasso. In last weekend’s 10-0 Western Class B championship victory, “Mountain Valley was sending all these different types of blitzes and they picked them all up.”

“Our line is amazing,” said McDonough, who completed all three of his passes Saturday. “They’re the ones doing all the work. They’re putting all the effort up front to get us through those holes.”

Wells averages 250 yards rushing per game and its running backs 6.8 yards per carry. Mountain Valley held the Warriors to season lows of 180 and 3.7, respectively, but Wells came through on a couple of critical short-yardage situations, and Staples and Dennison paved the way for the game’s only touchdown, a sweep around left end by Drew Shelley for 29 yards.

“I’ve been here 32 years,” said Perri, an assistant under Marty Ryan and Ed McDonough before the current coach, Tim Roche, “and it’s the hardest-working group of kids that I’ve ever had. I don’t want to sound like it’s always been that way, but they deserve to be where they are because they put the time in for it.”

 

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at [email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH