SACO – Paul Vadnais wasn’t dallying. Kickoff was about 40 minutes away and he wanted to find a seat in the bleachers. As he walked from a far parking lot, he talked into a cellphone.

“I’ll be sitting on the winning side.” There was a pause. “The Biddeford side.” Another pause. “There’s a guy walking in front of me listening and he’s laughing.”

No, I wasn’t laughing. The smile was for his humor and unwavering hope. On its last game of the high school football season Saturday, Biddeford had a chance to win its first game. The Tigers’ opponent was Thornton Academy, their cross-river rival and one of the top teams in Western Maine.

On this day, there would no magic, no miracle. Thornton Academy won, 34-0.

Biddeford ended its season without a win, the first time that’s happened in the lifetimes of the players.

“They gave their best effort and we still lost by 34 points,” said Coach Scott Descoteaux. “I’m proud of this team. I wanted them to win one game, just as a reward for all the work they did.”

Descoteaux played for Coach Mike Landry during the golden years of Biddeford football that lasted for parts of two decades. Six state championships won by Landry-coached teams and another by the man who succeeded him in 1994, Brian Curit. If their teams reached the state final, they won.

Being second best was an unknown.

Descoteaux played on the 1991 championship team. He was named Curit’s successor six years ago and it was a dream come true. Saturday, lines of anguish etched his face. He wiped his eyes and said he was all right. Must’ve been the wind causing them to tear.

“I had a (junior varsity) team out there. Six seniors, and two had no experience playing football before.”

Freshmen and sophomore starters. Undersized and inexperienced starters. One-hundred-pound dynamos on special teams.

They played fearlessly but were overmatched physically, for the most part. Thornton Academy did not take its rivals lightly. The memory of losing to Biddeford 27-22 last season was fresh.

“I was hoping we’d play with emotion today,” said Descoteaux. “I don’t know what the score might have been if we didn’t.”

Sure enough, players called out to each other on the field or on the sideline. “Keep it up,” yelled Ian Robinson, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound junior lineman. “The score is 0-0.”

Biddeford was already down 14-0, but you get the idea.

Down 21-0, the defense stopped a Thornton Academy drive in the third quarter and celebrated.

Others might have winced at the outburst but in the bigger picture, it was easy to understand. Take small victories when you can.

“Hey, fourth quarter. The game’s not over.” The solitary voice of a teammate carried and Biddeford players picked up their heads and their feet as they moved to the other end of the field.

They lost every game by two touchdowns or more and in the final quarter of their season, they had more to give. The score was 28-0.

“How did we keep going? I thought about the other 30 guys,” said senior fullback and linebacker Andrew Descoteaux, no relation to his head coach, but the grandson of former Biddeford coach Art Descoteaux. Andrew Descoteaux played on last year’s team, which finished 7-2 after a loss in the Western Class A quarterfinals, but he wouldn’t trade one set of teammates for the other.

“These are the best teammates I’ve played with or ever will play with. Not winning is the toughest thing to go through, but we took care of each other. We played our butts off.”

Muscle cramps took Descoteaux out of the game in the third quarter.

He walked the sideline, stretching his left foot and leg until he could run unimpeded. His return would make no difference on the scoreboard. It made all the difference in the world to him.

Out of an announced crowd of 2,081, there were perhaps 300 to 400 noisy and supportive Biddeford fans. Some 20 years ago, more than 10,000 would watch this game.

It’s been 17 years since Biddeford last won a state championship. A generation of Biddeford boys has grown up without high school football heroes. Come fall, they find other things to do.

In the pain of the moment, Scott Descoteaux shook his head. “I don’t know if (the glory years) will come back.”

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

[email protected]


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