September 20, 2013

Football Notebook: Lake Region shows signs of turning its fortunes around

By Tom Chard tchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Lake Region won its first football game last week. That's significant, considering the struggles the program has had over the last few years. The Lakers beat Mountain Valley 20-6 Friday.

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Justin Zukowski

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Justin Zukowski, Portland: Zukowski carried the ball 20 times for 284 yards and a touchdown as the Bulldogs beat Deering 45-19. Zukowski scored on a 6-yard run on the team's opening drive.

HONORABLE MENTION

Capen Macomber, Biddeford: Macomber gained 133 yards, and scored on runs of 2 and 4 yards as the Tigers beat Massabesic, 34-14.

Nicco DeLorenzo, Kennebunk: DeLorenzo scored on an 89-yard opening kickoff return and added three touchdowns runs from scrimmage as the Rams beat York 38-14 in a renewal of a long football rivalry.

Ben Greenberg, Scarborough: Greenberg showed his running and passing abilities in a 34-7 win over Bangor. Greenberg gained 98 yards on 12 carries and passed for 145 yards and one touchdown on 6 of 12 completions.

"It was pretty exciting," said Coach Brian Jahna.

The team struggled with a low participation rate last season. This season, the roster has grown to 40 players.

"We were in a battle for survival last season, " said Jahna.

"This season the energy is increasingly positive and it's radiated to the student body," he said.

Although Mountain Valley has suffered graduation losses, Jahna said there was still the mental hurdle of playing the Falcons the players had to overcome.

"Mountain Valley has quite the history. When they bring 50 players, there's still the mystique of getting past Mountain Valley."

The Lakers host Yarmouth Friday night.

Lake Region lost its opening game to Poland, 6-0, and also lost its starting quarterback Quinn Piland to a sprained ankle.

Doug Banks and Cole Jakobs shared time at quarterback against Mountain Valley and both played well. All three Lake Region touchdowns were on passes. Banks threw touchdown passes to Nick Wandishin and Nick Hall. Jakobs threw one to Wandishin. Running back Cody Gibbons carried the ball 17 times for 127 yards.

Lake Region went 1-7 last year. The year before it went 0-8. A year ago, the Lakers won their last game of the season against Gray-New Gloucester.

"We had to get the two young quarterbacks ready quickly," said Jahna,

THE HIGH SCHOOL football reclassification has achieved one thing: It's made the race for the top in Class B very exciting. Two games jump out this week: Cony at Brunswick in Eastern Maine and Westbrook at Marshwood in the West. Both games are Friday night at 7. All four teams are 2-0.

Reclassification moved Brunswick, Cony, Skowhegan, Messalonskee and Lawrence to Eastern Maine Class B and Gorham, Kennebunk and Mt. Ararat to Western Class B.

"It's the biggest game we've had in years," Brunswick Coach Dan Cooper said.

A year ago. Cony beat the Dragons twice, once in the regular season and again in the Eastern Maine playoff semifinals. The playoff game was 21-20. Cony lost to Lawrence in the Eastern Maine final.

"Cony was the favorite in the East going into the season," said Cooper.

"Mt. Blue, Skowhegan and us are knocking on the door. And we haven't even mentioned Lawrence, who is young. They'll be there at the end of the year," he said.

The Cony-Brunswick game offers contrasting offensive styles. With strong-armed 6-foot-4 quarterback Ben Lucas, Cony will throw the ball more than 30 times a game. Brunswick likes to run the ball with Lucas McCue, 245-pound fullback Alex Bandouveres and Evan Groat.

"Cony is tough to defend," said Cooper. "They spread you out and Lucas can throw it 70 yards. Cony is bigger and better up front than last season. They have a lot of returning players. We're going to run the ball and they're going to throw it. We have some very good running backs. Lucas has carried the ball sparingly in two games, but he has rushed for over 100 yards in each game," he said.

In Western Maine Class B, defending champion Marshwood is off to a fast start. Kennebunk is also a power and the two teams will meet Sept. 27.

"There are a lot of competitive teams at the top of East and West," said Westbrook Coach Jeff Guerette.

"A bunch of those teams were in Class A and had well-established football programs. We're hoping for a competitive game. Marshwood is a fast and physical team which generally doesn't beat themselves. We have some inexperience guys who are still developing. This will be a good test to tell us where we stand," he said.

The Blue Blazes will look to take some of the running pressure off Collin Joyce with halfback Maurice Johnson and quarterback Kyle Heath. Tight end Noah Collins is a key target for Heath.

BIDDEFORD PRESENTED Coach Brian Curit his first win in his return as the Tigers beat Massabesic, 34-14 last week. Curit last coached the Tigers in 2006.

"We decided to play Biddeford defense," said Curit.

The Tigers dropped their opening game to Bonny Eagle, 48-14.

While crediting the Scots with a well-deserved win and being impressed with their talent, Curit felt his team's opening game jitters and being out of position on defense contributed to the margin of defeat.

"Bonny Eagle is one of the best teams around. They're stocked with athletes. A few times, I thought our defense had them pinned in only to have Bonny Eagle explode past us. I was very impressed with them. We took a step in the right direction last week, but we're definitely not where we want to be by any stretch."

Biddeford plays at Noble Friday. The game has been moved to 4 p.m.

IT WILL SEEM strange for some time to associate Cheverus, Deering, Portland and Windham with Eastern Maine in football. That was accentuated with the weekly release of the Eastern Maine Class A statistics. The top three rushers are Justin Zukowski of Portland and Liam Sullivan of Windham with 446 yards each and Joe Fitzpatrick of Cheverus with 344 yards.

The leading passer in Eastern Maine is Deering sophomore Max Chabot with 204 yards and two touchdowns with 31 completions on 60 attempts. Noah Stebbins of Cheverus leads in receiving with four receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

tchard@pressherald.com

Twitter: TomChardPPH

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