The Scarborough Middle School football team won all the marbles on Sunday with a 25-22 victory over previously unbeaten Kennebunk. Playing at on the road, but with the benefit of a large and boisterous contingent of fans and cheerleaders, the Red Storm rode the strong passing of southpaw quarterback Kyle Kelley, the explosive running of tailback Colin Pierce and the dominating defensive play of Matthew Brown to victory.

Affairs looked less than promising after the Rams returned the game’s opening kick-off 75 yards for a touchdown. However, the Red Storm refused to unravel, and instead responded with a pounding 70 yard drive to pay dirt behind the inside-outside running tandem of fullback Dennis Liu and tailback Pierce. A one yard dive by Pierce at the 6:14 mark of the first quarter accounted for the touchdown and Anthony Cofone’s extra point gave Scarborough a 7-6 lead that it never relinquished. After stopping the Rams on their ensuing possession, the visitors went back to work using the same formula. Good line cracking by Liu and Pierce combined with some pinpoint passing from Kelley as the Storm moved the ball to the Rams’ 3 yard line. From there it was again Pierce who lugged the ball over the final distance to put Scarborough up 13-6.

By the second quarter, Kennebunk, which had never trailed an opponent over an impressive 10-game winning streak, had clearly been forced from its ball-control game plan. The Storm defense, led by defensive linemen Brown and Logan Mars (both only recently promoted from the junior varsity squad), defensive ends Tyler Jordan and Mitchell Scammon, linebackers Cofone and James Ek, and safety Zach Pettingill, stifled Kennebunk’s running attack. With 8:37 remaining in the second frame, Brown, who doubles as Pierce’s back-up at tailback, took a pitch from Kelley and rambled 27 yards to the Kennebunk 2 yard line. Liu scored on the next play behind blocks from Zachary Frizzle and Zachary Sheckley (another recently promoted junior varsity player). However, Kennebunk rallied for a touchdown and a two-point conversion with 55 seconds remaining in the half and the teams went to intermission with Scarborough leading by only 19-14.

With 8:20 remaining in the third quarter, Scarborough linebacker and co-captain Zach Bean intercepted a Ram pass to end a Kennebunk drive. When the Storm was forced to punt two minutes later, two-way standout Michael Cyr recovered a fumble on the return to give the visitors good field position at the Kennebunk 33 yard line. On the next series, lanky quarterback Kelley set up in the pocket and found Cyr open on a corner pattern at the 5 yard line. The flanker ran unmolested into the end zone. Now trailing by a score of 25-14, Kennebunk went to the air lanes and found a receiver in the end zone between two Scarborough defenders. With the conversion points, the score had been narrowed to 25-22. After Scarborough was forced to punt on its next possession, Kennebunk had a final opportunity to claim the championship trophy. However, an inspired Red Storm defense, backed by a deafening chorus of DEFENSE from its fans and cheerleaders, rose to the occasion, swarming the Kennebunk quarterback in the pocket and forcing a fumble that finally ended the threat. From there, Kelley was able to take a knee and the Gold Ball had a new home in Scarborough.

Following the game, Southern Maine Youth Football League President George Tasker made presentations to both teams at mid-field. Tasker was joined by the many league officials and coaches in attendance in describing this year’s championship game as the best-played finale in recent memory. In accepting the championship trophy on behalf of his charges, veteran Scarborough Head Coach George Spino credited the Kennebunk team for its outstanding season and gushed with praise for his players and their parents, middle school program coordinator Tamsen Alper, his coaching staff and the Scarborough cheerleaders (in Spino’s words “our world-class cheering squad”).

As for his personal observations on the game, Spino was quick to credit the win to his team’s exceptional line play. “Let’s face it, that was the key this year. We always seem to have extraordinary athletes in the backfield and this year was no different. Colin (Pierce) is a phenomenal breakaway runner, and Dennis (Liu) and James (Ek) were great compliments for him at fullback. And you couldn’t expect more from a quarterback than what Kyle Kelley has given us over our play-off run. But today, our center, Zach Frizzle, was the anchor. He made every block. Frizzle, Sheckley, Cofone and Bean simply controlled the right side of the playing field. Defensively, Brown was just incredible – he was on the ball on every play.” Spino also had high praise for his special teams, particularly long-snapper Keoni Debarge (who was perfect on every punt and place kick snap over the Storm’s remarkable play-off run) and coverage specialist Seth Albert, who Spino described as “a great football player and an even greater kid.”

After taking possession of the coveted “Gold Ball,” exhausted players boarded buses for home, only to be greeted by a much appreciated Fire-Rescue escort through town. Next Sunday, the middle school team will hold its annual break-up banquet at the high school cafeteria. And with Sunday’s championship victory, this year’s banquet shapes up as a rollicking event.

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