What were those jerseys South Portland was wearing at home against Massabesic last Friday night? They weren’t the Red Riots’ traditional home red, white and gray shirts.
The Riots were wearing camouflage shirts as part of the wounded warrior program; the school is a member. The shirts were donated by Riddell, the national sports equipment company best known for helmets used at all levels, including the National Football League.
The Riots ordered new home and away uniforms from Riddell this season, but only the jerseys and not the pants arrived by the opening game. The Riots wore their old uniforms for the first two games.
“Schools can subscribe tor the wounded warrior program,” said Athletic Director Todd Livingston. “Riddell felt bad that the new uniforms hadn’t arrived in time for the season opener. The players were frustrated they didn’t have them so Riddell offered to give us the camouflage shirts. They drove them up last Friday and dropped them off.”
The players came out for warmups in their regular home uniforms, then changed to their new shirts before the kickoff.
“The kids were ecstatic. Coach (Steve) Stinson has worked closely with Riddell. They do all our reconditioning of our helmets,” said Livingston.
The camouflage shirts were green and gray with black numbers. They apparently suited the Riots, who improved to 2-1 with a 40-7 victory against Massabesic.
The pants arrived Monday so players will have their new uniforms for Friday night’s home game against Noble.
“The uniforms are beautiful,” said Livingston.
Stinson said his players have been resilient this season with the renovation to the school, practicing off site at the Wainwright complex and now the new uniforms arriving late.
“Schools sign up for the wounded warrior program and the camoflage shirts are alternated to different schools to wear for a game,” said Stinson. “It’s an opportunity to bring awareness to a great cause. It was Homecoming so we had a good crowd. We heard from veterans at the game and they thought it was a classy thing to do.”
ONE OF the unique aspects of football reclassification and crossover games — where one team in the West plays a team in the East — is it could be a first meeting between the two.
That will be the case at 1:30 p.m. Saturday when Mt. Blue of Farmington visits York.
“I’ve been coaching here since 1992, and I played here, and I don’t remember ever playing Mt. Blue,” said York Coach Randy Small.
York Athletic Director Ted Welch agreed it’s the first time the schools have met.
The teams are in different leagues and different regions.
Mt. Blue was in Class A for years until dropping to Class B in 2011.
York has been in Class B, currently the smallest school based on enrollment in the division, and before that in Class C and Class D.
Knowing of the strong program Mt. Blue Coach Gary Parlin puts forth every season — the Cougars are the defending state champions — Small said he was hoping his Wildcats would draw Mt. Blue in the crossover game.
Small has had success playing at Mountain Valley over the years and felt a similar program like Mt. Blue’s would be a good matchup.
Teams drew schools out of a hat for their crossover and York drew Mt. Blue.
“It should be fun,” said Small. “I have friends in the Farmington area. We’re looking forward to playing up there next year.”
After opening with losses to Westbrook and Kennebunk, York beat Falmouth last Friday night, 34-0. Now come the Cougars, who are coming off a 49-41 loss to Messalonskee.
“Mt. Blue likes to run screens, traps and put the ball in the air,” said Small. “They throw everything at you.”
With a young team entering the season, Small knew his players were going to encounter bumps starting out.
“I have to be patient with this team. They’re still learning,” he said.
Small said his team is healthy for this game.
“Reclassification brings new matchups but it also rekindles old ones,” said Welch, who was thinking about York’s game against Marshwood.
Other interesting crossover games that have happened or will happen are Bangor at Scarborough, which was also a first-time meeting, Marshwood at Messalonskee, Cheverus at Bangor and Cony at Greely.
The schedule was made with the intent to preserve rivalries in the final weekend of the season, which is Oct. 25-26.
Classics such as Portland-South Portland, Biddeford-Thornton Academy, Lewiston-Edward Little, Cony-Gardiner, Marshwood-York and Winslow-Waterville are still on the docket.
HIGHLIGHTING THE fourth weekend of the high school fooball season will be two Friday night games involving undefeated opponents.
In a game for the top spot in Western Class B, Marshwood, the defending regional champion, plays at Kennebunk.
Both teams have numerous players back from a year ago. Kennebunk made the playoffs in Western Class A a year ago and lost to the eventual state champion, Thornton Academy, in the regional quarterfinals.
Marshwood lost to Mt. Blue 44-42 in the state final.
In the other game involving unbeaten teams, Cheverus plays at Windham for the top spot in Eastern Class A. Those teams, with Portland and Deering, were moved to Eastern Maine so both regions would have eight teams. Through three games the Stags are the highest-scoring team in Class A with 156 points and the second-stingiest, allowing 33.
Windham entered the season with several unknowns because of inexperience. The Eagles have adjusted well while getting contributions from several players on offense.
This game will be Windham’s biggest test of the season.
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: