SCARBOROUGH – Exhibition games don’t count, first-year Scarborough High School football head coach Lance Johnson knows that.

And after beating Portland 28-20 last Friday in a final exhibition game before the regular season starts this week, Johnson was quick to say that the preseason win doesn’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. “It felt good,” he said. “(But) this one doesn’t count, the one next week counts.”

Still, after serving as an assistant coach at Portland High for the past 20 years, Johnson admitted he enjoyed going up against his former team, whose coaching staff includes the man who hired him at Scarborough, former Athletic Director Gary Groves. “A lot of my good friends are over on the other sideline, so it’s special,” Johnson said after the game in Scarborough.

While the reunion with his old team was nice for Johnson, he was focused on how his new team performed in their first game action of 2010, and he said he liked what he saw from the Storm. “I think we’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “We did some positive things tonight, it’s a good step forward for us.”

The Storm came out with an aggressive offensive look as quarterback Jack Adams was firing the ball, hitting Joe Viola for a 24-yard touchdown pass and then finding Mike Cyr for a 20-yard scoring strike in the first half. Adams also completed a 47-yard bomb to Viola near the end of the first half, setting up a third Storm touchdown.

Johnson said he was pleased with how Adams has been handling the offense in the preseason. “Jack’s a great leader, he’s a really good kid,” he said. “He as a good head on his shoulders and understands the game, knows what we’re trying to do with the offense. He did an excellent job tonight.”

As for the Storm’s aerial attack, Johnson said the Storm had the players to keep throwing the ball successfully. “We’ve got a lot of good athletes to throw the ball to and spread people out and we’re going to take advantage of that,” he said.

Johnson said that he has been impressed with his players as he gets to know them during his first preseason with the team, praising the Red Storm for their work ethic. “(They are) a great group of kids, they do exactly what we ask them to do,” he said. “If we ask them to do something in practice and improve upon it, they focus on that and do that. All we’ve got to do is ask them and they just do it. (It’s) a really nice group of kids and a good group of athletes.”

But now that group of athletes has to get ready for the games that count. And the Storm have a tough test right out of the gate as they travel to Waterboro to face Massabesic this Friday night at 7 p.m. Johnson said he knew the Storm would have their work cut out for them against the Mustangs. “John Morin’s one of the best coaches in the state and he does a good job,” Johnson said. “We’re nervous, but we’ll show up and play hard and try and get the kids prepared.”

While not looking past the Mustangs, Johnson said that with games coming up against Thornton Academy and Sanford, Scarborough has a tough stretch to open the season, but he expects his team to rise to the challenge and be around come playoff time. “I don’t think there’s any reason why we shouldn’t be in the playoffs,” he said. “That’s our goal.”

New Scarborough head coach Lance Johnson gives instructions to Storm quarterback Jack Adams during the first half of the Storm’s exhibition win over Portland Friday night.Staff photo by Mike Higgins

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