Sunday, December 8, 2013
By Tom Chard firstname.lastname@example.org
Every high school football team starts the season with the goal of getting to the playoffs. After a 7-3 season a year ago, South Portland felt it had a good chance of doing that.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Alex Shain, Sanford: Shain scored five touchdowns for the second straight game in leading Sanford to a 34-7 win over Windham. He finished with 275 yards. Through seven games, Shain has 978 yards and has scored 20 touchdowns.
Kenny Sweet, Deering: Scored five touchdowns and gained 206 yards in a 57-12 win over South Portland.
Donald Goodrich, Cheverus: Had three touchdowns and 198 yards rushing as the Stags beat Thornton Academy 28-14 in a game of unbeaten teams.
Greg Viola, Scarborough: Caught touchdown passes of 37 and 17 yards, and kicked two points after in a 25-20 loss to Portland.
The Red Riots were looking to build off the last two seasons and make it three straight trips to the postseason. A veteran line returned but the skill positions were inexperienced. But it was the graduated skill players of a year ago that was the engine that gave the Riots their best season in years.
The Riots (1-6) end their season Saturday with the Battle of the Bridge game against Portland (5-2) at South Portland. This will be South Portland's version of the playoffs.
"We've had an off year compared with what we had the last two years," said senior two-way tackle Liam Rottkov. "We thought the line would be the strength of the team.
"Every season is completely different. I don't have a simple explanation on why we're 1-6. There are too many intangibles. You can only control what you do. Football is about playing as a team. I think it's a lot more mental than physical. Even though the season hasn't gone the way we hoped it would, it hasn't stopped us from coming to practice every day and working hard."
Rottkov, Cody Munson and Ryan Ely have played on the same team since the fifth grade. Like Rottkov, they're linemen who have started since their sophomore year and contributed to the program's success in 2010-11.
They experienced exhilaration last season when the team was a yard away from beating Thornton Academy in the Western Class A semifinals. That's basically the same Thornton team that lost to Cheverus 28-14 last week and likely will head to the playoffs as the No. 2 seed.
Sam Seidl, the center, also has been a part of the Riots' football program for four years. Rottkov, Munson, Ely and Seidl played at Mahoney Middle School before that.
A year ago, Portland was in a similar position as South Portland is today. The Bulldogs were out of the playoffs and looking to get a reprieve from a losing season that a win over South Portland would bring. It didn't happen; the Riots won the Bridge trophy. Now the Riots hope to lessen their pain with a win over the Bulldogs.
"This is our playoff game," said Rottkov.
With the success of last season came individual honors for Rottkov. He was named to the All-SMAA first team as a defensive tackle. Rottkov hasn't lost his passion for the game and is in the process of deciding if he wants to play in college.
The four senior linemen hope to catch a little of last season's magic Saturday.
"They've been outstanding linemen," said Coach Steve Stinson. "They're part of the outstanding linemen we've had at South Portland over the last three to four years."
THE FINAL weekend of the regular season could bring a lot of movement in the Crabtree point standings in Western Class A and B.
The real scramble is for the final four playoff spots in Western A.
Only nine points separate the fifth-ranked team (Windham) from the 10th-ranked team (Kennebunk). Only the top eight teams will qualify for the playoffs.
"There are a bunch of teams who are going for the last four playoff spots," said Sanford Coach Mike Fallon.
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