The late-afternoon sun threw long shadows across the Bonny Eagle football field Friday as coach Kevin Cooper and his staff worked the Scots through their final practice before the following day’s state championship game.

The players wore their helmets, jerseys and shorts. There was no hitting, no sprints – none of the grueling working out that the guys had done all season to bring them to this moment. Now it was just a matter of walking through some plays and reaffirming the goals that put Bonny Eagle in position to play for the Class A Gold Ball two years in a row.

Just as the practice was about to end, Cooper called out the seniors and, in recognition of their last moments spent practicing on the home gridiron, the 16 young men jogged the length of the field, around the opposite goalpost and back. Waiting for them was an applauding gauntlet of coaches and underclassmen teammates.

Then the team huddled and broke practice for the day. Seniors slapped hands and hugged each other.

Defensive back Nick Davis explained that he and many of his classmates have been playing football together for years.

“We formed a brotherhood and we all became best friends over the years,” Davis said. “We had a successful career in middle school and high school. To come this far with a chance to repeat is really something.”

“Like Nick said, we’ve been together since sixth grade, most of us,” added Taylor Steeves. “I know now, or even 10 years from, if one of these guys asked me for a favor I’d be there. That’s just how it is. I don’t think I’ll ever get another feeling like this from anything.”

The bonds that the Scots spoke of are formed by the shared experiences of being on a team: daily practices, injuries, heartbreaking losses and exhilarating victories.

“We’re out here six days a week, fighting, giving blood, sweat and tears and it really brings a group of guys together,” said lineman Griffen Sherry. “I’m happy to say I’ve been playing with these guys for nine years and I’ve never gotten tired of it.”

“I know that with a lot of these people I could share anything, and they have my back for whatever I need,” lineman Brett Cartwright said. “That’s really just a great feeling to know that a group of guys can come together from all different situations of their own and pull it together and do what we’ve done.”

What these guys have done as juniors and seniors is compile a record of 22-2 on their way to consecutive state titles.

“It’s been a fantastic ride,” said lineman Charlie Butler. “Winning the state championship last year and coming back with a chance to win it again this year – you couldn’t ask for a better high school football career than that. And I wouldn’t have done it with anybody but these guys right here.”

Before the practice ended, the players cheered placekicker Eric Hanson as he attempted field goals at steadily increasing yardage. Hanson is a senior, but he’s not one of the Scots who have been playing football since elementary school. In fact, this was his first season on the team.

“All of my friends play football and I wanted to be with them my senior year,” Hanson said.

The Hollis native switched from soccer – the sport he’s played for years – to kicking for the team and added another weapon to Bonny Eagle’s offensive arsenal. Hanson made 42 of the 48 extra points that he attempted and also hit three field goals for a total of 51 points.

In the Scots’ opening round playoff game against Gorham, Hanson’s four points – including a 31-yard field goal – proved to be the difference in the 26-22 win.

And what if Saturday’s state title game came down to a last-second field goal? Would Hanson have been ready to step up and win it, like Patriots’ kicker Adam Vinatieri has done so often?

“I was ready,” Hanson said. “The furthest I’ve ever made is 47, but I’d feel comfortable at 40.”

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