When Wells fell behind 13-0 early in last week’s Western Class C semifinal football game against a team that averaged 44 points a game, things, to put in mildly, didn’t look promising.

So how did Wells respond? The only way the Warriors know how – with grit and determination. Wells scored two touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 14-13 lead and held Spruce Mountain scoreless the rest of the way for the one-point win.

Now Wells (8-2) faces another stern test Saturday at top-ranked and defending Class C state champion Leavitt (9-1) for the regional title and a berth in the state championship game Nov. 21 at the University of Maine.

If there’s one thing that has defined the Warriors, it’s been the evolution of their defense. They began the season relatively inexperienced, with four sophomore starters. The newbies needed time to get the hang of things – and veterans such as Mike Curtis, Ryan Marsh, Nate Booth and Chris Carney were more than happy to teach them.

“The sophomores had to learn their roles and earn their places on defense,” said Booth, who doubles as a cornerback and the starting quarterback.

“We taught them how to play with an edge and that they had to play hard every down. We take a lot of pride on defense. It’s set up a lot of offense. We’ve scored four defensive touchdowns.”

Two of the four sophomore starters, Owen Berry and Riley Dempsey, are in the secondary with Booth. The other sophomore starters are defensive end Deandre Woods and outside linebacker Jordan Cluff.

“It’s hard to pinpoint when our defense came together this season,” said Coach Tim Roche. “I think it was a case of the underclassmen just figuring it out. They’ve mixed in with the veterans and found their niche.”

Roche pointed to another move that has spurred the defense. At the start of the season, he switched Curtis from linebacker to defensive end and junior Reid Chase from defensive end to linebacker.

After a few games of adjustment, Curtis has been outstanding on the flank. The 6-feet, 215-pounder has been a thorn for opponents as a pass rusher and run stopper. Roche felt Curtis would fit better at defensive end because techniques he learned as a wrestler help him shed blockers and make plays.

Roche noticed Curtis would sometimes get frustrated at linebacker because blockers weren’t always in front of him.

“It was really slow at first,” said Curtis about adapting to a new position.

The improvement on defense, he said, is the result of work in practice.

“We all know we have roles and if we do them we’ll be successful,” Curtis said.

The win over Spruce Mountain avenged a 27-6 loss on Sept. 12. On Saturday, Wells will get a chance to avenge its other loss, 26-19 to Leavitt on Oct. 17.

“With the exception of parts of three games, our defense has been very solid,” said Booth. “One of the keys to having a strong defense is communication with your teammates. We’ve done that very well this season.”

Wells hasn’t been just about defense. The offense is formidable (37.2 points per game) with the running of Carney, who has 1,800 yards rushing, and the passing of Booth. Curtis complements Carney as the fullback.

Wells faced a passing team in Spruce Mountain and faces another in Leavitt.

“It was a very nice win against Spruce,” Roche said. “I told the players, ‘let’s keep doing this. It feels pretty good.’ “