Despite clear skies and ample sunshine, Senior Day for the football team at Poland Regional High School was marred by sustained, blustering winds – with gusts in excess of 30 MPH – and an undefeated opponent, the Cape Elizabeth Capers, who are among the hottest football teams in Western Maine.

As the strong winds and a strong Cape Elizabeth defense stifled Poland’s passing attack, the Capers (8-0) ultimately defeated the Knights (1-7) by a score of 31 to 0.

The scoring began about halfway through the first quarter when Cape Elizabeth freshman, Tom Foden, returned a punt 33 yards to the Poland nine yard line, setting up a first-and-goal for the Capers. On the next play from scrimmage, junior fullback, Sean Meagher, received a handoff from quarterback, Jim Bump, and ran the ball off the right tackle for the touchdown. The extra point kick sailed outside of the left upright, keeping the score 6 to 0 with 5:48 left in the quarter.

In the second quarter, after a punt by Poland’s Thomas Rand pinned the Capers just inside the 10 yard line, Cape Elizabeth managed to advance the ball out of the shadow of their end zone. Then, on a third-and-two from their own 28 yard line, Meagher received a handoff and found daylight off the left tackle. As he high stepped his way out of the grasp of some would-be tacklers, Meagher turned what would have been a modest gain into a 72-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion attempt failed.

During the subsequent kickoff, Cape Elizabeth’s Tom Rich met the Poland ball carrier at the 35-yard line, delivering a hit that jarred the ball loose. His teammate, Patrick Gallant, quickly recovered the fumble for the Capers.

Three plays later, after Poland’s Daniel Roberts and Ben Piper combined to tackle Andrew Moulton behind the line of scrimmage, the Capers reclaimed the lost yardage and then some when Foden took the handoff and rumbled 29 yards into the end zone for the score.

Poland’s next possession resulted in another turnover. Rand – in at quarterback for injured starter, Tyrus Stienman (second quarter) – lined up behind center in shotgun formation. Despite his best effort to secure an errant snap that sailed over his head, Rand could only watch as Cape Elizabeth linebacker, Jim Poulin, won the scramble to the ball and recovered the fumble. This helped set another Capers touchdown; their third and final of the first half.

As the Cape Elizabeth running attack pinched the Knights against their goal line, senior offensive lineman, Jonathan Lavallee lined up in the backfield as a running back. Having already brought the Capers to within inches of end zone on the two previous plays, Lavallee, on fourth down, received the handoff again and finally broke into the end zone for the score. The two-point conversion attempt failed.

The Capers led the Knights at halftime, 24 to 0.

With seven minutes left in the third quarter, Cape Elizabeth cornerback, Nathan Hansen, intercepted a pass intended for Poland’s Matt Seger. The ensuing drive for the Capers, highlighted by a 35-yard run by Moulton, resulted in the final score of the game when offensive lineman, Devon Freitas, lined up in the backfield, received a handoff, and pushed his way into the end zone from 4 yards out. Foden’s extra-point kick was successful, making the score 31 to 0.

Gallant, a senior cornerback, played outstanding defense for the Capers. He finished with 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.

Poland’s Rand, Piper, and Chris Arsenault also had good games defensively for the Knights.

The Knights will play Gray-New Gloucester (3-5) this Friday at Gray, while the Capers will take on the Mountain Valley Falcons (8-0) in Rumford.

As the playoffs approach, Friday’s contest between Mountain Valley and Cape Elizabeth will all but guarantee the number one seed to the team that emerges victorious. With both teams battling to finish the regular season undefeated, the energy on both sidelines is sure to be palpable.

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