FALMOUTH – After losing its first two games, the York football team changed things up in practice this week.
The Wildcats put down the blocking dummies and foam shields, put in their mouth guards and buttoned their chin straps.
“We hit every day,” offensive tackle Ethan McDonough said. “We weren’t as aggressive in the first two games as we needed to be. We went live every day this week and it was just what we needed.”
Boy was it.
Sean Kelly ran 23 times for 153 yards and two touchdowns Friday night to lead the hard-hitting Wildcats to a 34-0 win over Falmouth in a Western Maine Conference game.
Quarterback Ross Hogan (7 for 12, 110 yards) ran for one touchdown and threw for another as York (1-2) blew open the game with a 20-point second quarter.
“We just worked hard in practice,” Kelly said. “We hit all week so we were ready right from the start tonight. In the first two games, we didn’t get fired up until the second half. By then it was too late.”
Who were the Wildcats’ hardest hitters? Start with the offensive line.
“My line did a great job opening up holes,” Kelly said. “They did a great job tonight.”
“We came out and played football,” York Coach Randy Small said. “The offensive line was excellent. Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong in the first two games. Tonight we did a lot of things right.”
Both teams were slowed by penalties, and Falmouth’s were crippling.
“York was ready, they played hard and they deserved to win,” Falmouth Coach John Fitzsimmons said.
“With a very young team that we have, mental mistakes absolutely cost us. We had over 100 yards in penalties, and you can’t do that against good teams.”
Two penalties stood out. After Kelly scored on a 4-yard run and Trevor LaBonte’s kick gave York a 7-0 lead, Storm Covens returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for an apparent touchdown. But a holding penalty nullified the score.
Four plays later, York took over on downs.
Then in the second quarter, Ross Hogan’s 3-yard run and LaBonte’s kick gave York a 14-0 lead. Falmouth moved up the field on a pair of Noah Nelson-to-Covens passes and a pass interference call.
Connor Aube followed with a 35-yard run to the York 11, but offsetting penalties forced a replay of the down from the York 46. Falmouth ran the same play, but this time Aube was dropped for a loss. Falmouth punted, and York scored on the next drive when Jack Neary’s 4-yard TD run capped a six-play, 70-yard march that pushed the lead to 20-0.
York recovered the ensuing onside kick on the Falmouth 36, and five plays later Kelly’s 3-yard run and LaBonte’s kick made it 27-0 with 2:15 left in the first half.
“The intensity level tonight is a great learning experience for us,” Fitzsimmons said. “Our goal in the next few weeks is to stop all the mental errors that keep holding us back.”