WESTBROOK – Graham Strondak and Terry Webber experienced their share of losing in their first two varsity football seasons.

But no longer.

The Westbrook seniors have led a resurgence of Blue Blazes football that has the team playing in the Western Class B semifinals. Fifth-seeded Westbrook (5-4) faces top-seeded Wells (9-0) at 7 tonight.

Westbrook dropped from Class A to Class B this year because of declining enrollment, and while the Blue Blazes lost their first three games and were 1-4 through five games, the switch was needed. Westbrook is competitive and winning for the first time in many years.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Webber, the quarterback. “We won only one game my sophomore year and two last year. And now this. We’re playing schools similar to us in roster size.”

The Blazes have won four straight games, including last week’s 12-7 quarterfinal victory over Falmouth.

“The taste of winning has made this all a little better,” said Strondak, a fullback and linebacker. “Even when we were 1-4, our goal was still to make the playoffs. We knew we couldn’t lose another game.”

And the Blazes haven’t.

They defeated York, Falmouth and Marshwood in their last three regular-season games to reach the playoffs. Last Friday, Westbrook rallied to beat Falmouth, led by Strondak, Webber and an outstanding defense.

Both players said the pressure to win in Class B was present when the season began. It increased with a blowout loss at Mountain Valley in the opener. The Blue Blazes followed that up with a much better effort against Wells at home, but still a loss, and then a poor game against Greely.

Westbrook got its first win Sept. 24 against Fryeburg Academy. The Blazes lost 14-13 to Cape Elizabeth the following week, but Strondak called it “a big step.”

“We knew we were capable of winning against good teams,” said Strondak.

The Blazes beat York 34-15 on Oct. 7 to start their run.

“That win gave us confidence that we weren’t going to be a pushover,” said Strondak.

The resurgence has been well received in school and in the community. Strondak and Webber said classmates and faculty have been quick to congratulate them and teammates on their winning streak. At the Falmouth game, the Blazes had a strong student rooting section.

When the Blazes were 0-3, it would have been easy to get discouraged. Not this team.

“We have players who stuck with it,” said Coach Jeff Guerette.

Midway through the season, the coaching staff inserted Kyle Heath at running back and decided to take Webber off defense, where he was a linebacker, and play him just on offense.

“It’s made me a lot fresher,” said Webber, a strong runner whose passing has improved.

“Graham and Terry are two of our better performers for sure,” said Guerette. “We’re strong up the middle with (Strondak) at fullback and linebacker. He’s a good, hard runner. With Terry just focusing on offense, it’s kept him healthy. He’s not your prototypical quarterback in that we don’t ask him to throw 20 times a game. He’s a smart player and a great leader.”

Moving Heath, the second-string quarterback, to halfback just made sense.

“Kyle is one of our best athletes. We had to get him on the field,” said Guerette.

Heath has responded with several big games.

Now the Blazes know they face a challenge at Wells.

But as Webber said: “We might as well take this as far as we can.”

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:
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Twitter: TomChardPPH