Thursday, June 20, 2013
By GREG REID Special to the Press Herald
SOUTH PORTLAND - Give it to senior Damien Shepard. Sure, he had just made his first start at quarterback for Windham, stealing the show with 146 yards rushing, scoring four touchdowns and passing for a fifth in a 47-13 victory over South Portland in a Western Class A opener at Martin Memorial Field.
Windham's Damien Shepard breaks away from Joey DiBiase of South Portland as the Eagles run away with a 47-13 victory in Friday night's season opener at South Portland.
Derek Davis/Staff Photographer
Christian Coons of Windham has the clamps on and won’t let go Friday night, bringing down Hayden Owen of South Portland after a reception in the second quarter of Windham’s 47-13 victory in a Western Class A opener.
Photos by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer
He made all the right moves after the game as well. His first one was to deflect praise.
"It was all up to my offensive line and the coaches had great play-calling," Shepard said with a shrug. "The coaches gave me a play, I got behind the line and said, 'OK, clear it out.' Without those guys blocking for me, I wouldn't have been able to do anything."
And block they did. Seniors Joe and Sean Francoeur, Brandon Mitchell, Brad Carpentier and Matt Aldrich handled a South Portland defense that featured nine new starters.
In addition to Shepard, Colby Waterhouse pounded out 106 yards on 14 carries for Windham, many with both arms wrapped around the ball and knees churning.
"If we're going to win, we have to be physical," said Matt Perkins, entering his 11th season as the Eagles' coach. "Offensively we needed to be the aggressor. Defensively we wanted to make tackles and swarm the ball. That's been our focus in the offseason, and I saw so many really nice things tonight."
A converted receiver and return specialist, Shepard scored on runs of 9, 4, 13 and 23 yards. He also completed 6 of 7 passes for 55 yards, and a 9-yard TD pass to tight end Josh Perry with 6.2 seconds left in the first half to give the Eagles a 26-6 lead.
"The thing that's so neat about (Shepard) is he's so dynamic," Perkins said. "Then you've got the running backs, Waterhouse, Liam Sullivan, and our receivers. Defensively you've got to pick your poison."
Shepard's elusive 9-yard run gave the Eagles a 6-0 lead with 7:21 left in the first quarter. A botched South Portland snap led to a safety when Jake Wall trapped quarterback Duncan Preston in the end zone four minutes later for an 8-0 lead.
Preston, a senior also making his debut as a starter, was impressive in the face of a swarming defense, completing 7 of 15 passes for 76 yards and an interception.
He also finished with 12 carries for 94 yards, cutting the Eagles' lead to 8-6 with 8:25 left in the second quarter by breaking free for an electrifying 70-yard run along the right sideline for a score.
But Windham took over from there. Shepard scored three times over the final six minutes of the quarter.
"The game went kind of the way we thought it would, with good things and bad things and a lot of teachable moments," said Coach Steve Stinson, in his eighth season with the Red Riots.
"They're very physical up front. I would have liked to see us run a little better, but their (defensive) line and linebackers took that away from us and made us a little (one-dimensional.) They did a great job on us. It's going to be a process for us, no question, but they're a great group to coach and I'm looking forward to it."
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Matt Hammond, foreground, of South Portland breaks up the play as Colby Waterhouse of Windham attempts to make a first-quarter reception.