September 4, 2013

High School Football Preview: Their Class D delight

The last time Maine high school football had a Class D, Old Orchard Beach won a title game that still stirs the community.

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

OLD ORCHARD BEACH - The picture is a little grainy, the audio a little scratchy. Then again, it should be. This particular VHS tape is 27 years old.

click image to enlarge

Now he’s the athletic director, but in 1986 Jack Trull was the football coach who directed Old Orchard Beach High to the Class D state title in the division’s final season before this year.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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The 1986 program shows it was an Old Orchard-Madison state final.

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HIGH SCHOOL FALL PREVIEWS

Overall previews for high school sports begin this week, as follows:

Wednesday: Class C & D football

Thursday: Class B football

Friday: Class A football

Monday, Sept. 9: Field hockey

Tuesday, Sept. 10: Boys’ soccer

Wednesday, Sept. 11: Girls’ soccer

Thursday, Sept. 12: Cross country

Monday, Sept. 16: Volleyball

Tuesday, Sept. 17: Golf

FOOTBALL LIVE STREAMING

Here at www.pressherald.com/sports, we’ll be providing live broadcasts of up to 16 regular-season football games, plus playoffs. Here are the first five games scheduled to be streamed:

Friday: Cheverus at Portland

Saturday: York at Westbrook

Sept. 12: Portland at Deering

Sept. 13: Bangor at Scarborough

Sept. 14: Lewiston at Cheverus

MAKE YOUR PICKS

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Jack Trull is mesmerized by it.

"I could watch this all day," he said, sitting in his Saco home.

No doubt. The tape is the second half of the 1986 Class D state championship football game between Old Orchard Beach High -- coached at the time by Trull, now the school's athletic director -- and Madison. Old Orchard won 33-20, scoring 27 unanswered points in the second half.

At the time no one knew it would be the last Class D state title game sanctioned by the Maine Principals' Association. The following fall, football was restructured into three classes. But after years of debate, the MPA re-established Class D beginning this fall, again putting the state's smallest schools into their own division.

Old Orchard Beach, with 268 students, is the fourth-smallest school in the state playing football. And the Seagulls hope to provide a bookend to the Class D Gold Ball that sits in the school's trophy case.

"That," said the current coach, Dean Plante, a junior reserve on that 1986 team, "would be cool."

THE LOSS THAT SET UP A TITLE

This isn't the first time the MPA has reinstituted Class D. The MPA crowned champions in the division from 1951 to 1975 (except for 1971 and 1972, when no champion was designated according to MPA records). Then they stopped for three years.

In 1979, Class D resumed with a state championship game. At the time, Old Orchard was playing in the Southern York League, which featured larger schools such as Marshwood, York, Kennebunk, Wells, Noble and Massabesic.

Curt Chretien, an Old Orchard assistant coach who was also a junior on that 1986 team, insists that the Gulls "could have won close to 10 Gold Balls if we hadn't been playing those schools."

But after the 1984 season, Trull's first (a 2-6 record), the Seagulls considered a move to Class D.

"Joe Regina (the athletic director at the time) wasn't in favor of it," said Trull. "He was old-school. He wanted to play the schools in our backyard."

And after the decision was made to move down, Regina reminded Trull, "You can't go any lower than Class D. We were more than a little intimidated."

Moving down was just what the school needed.

The Gulls went 10-1, losing only in the Class D state championship game, 7-0 to a powerful Dexter team headed by the fabulous Haines twins, Michael and Mark. They combined for more than 8,000 rushing yards in their high school career.

Old Orchard held them to about 100 in the game, but Mark Haines scored the game's only touchdown on a 43-yard interception return.

That loss, said Trull, "was a huge motivation for our guys. By 1986 our weight program was on track. The kids had a purpose."

The Gulls repeated their undefeated regular season, getting tested only twice: 18-14 over Mexico and 20-14 over Messalonskee.

Then they beat Messalonskee 33-13 in the semifinals, setting up the showdown with Madison.

THAT NOT-TO-BE-FORGOTTEN GAME

Nov. 8, 1986 dawned gray, chilly and drizzly. By the time the game started a fog hung around the Winslow High field. The field was wet and muddy.

Madison, coached by Art Rudman, converted an Old Orchard fumble and interception into a 20-6 lead at the half.

"I think the thing that stands out most for me about that game," said Plante, "was the halftime speeches by Jack and Marc (Gagne, his top assistant). It was almost like the game was playing out perfectly."

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Dean Plante, who was a member of that 1986 championship team, now directs the football program at Old Orchard Beach, and hopes his players can produce the same kind of memories in the state’s return to a Class D division.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Jack Trull was coming off a loss in the 1985 state final with Old Orchard Beach, and in 1986 had the Seagulls primed to go all the way.

1986 Press Herald file

 


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