Portland High School strong safety Dylan Bolduc has a knack for making big plays. That’s already been evident twice this fall.

When the Bulldogs (3-0) look back on the season, the defining moment might be Bolduc’s 97-yard interception return for a touchdown at the close of the first half  against Windham last week.

Portland went from trailing 3-0 to leading 7-3. It was a huge momentum shift. The Bulldogs won, 10-3

“We were playing at a different speed in the second half,” said Portland defensive coordinator Mike Rutherford, referring to the energy boost the Bulldogs got from Bolduc’s touchdown return. Portland held Windham (2-1) to 32 yards in the second half.

“It was a hard fought, physical game. In a game that big, I can’t remember another Portland player making that long of a run with an interception to close the half,” Rutherford said.

In the opening game of the season, Bolduc scored on an 80-yard kickoff return after Scarborough had closed its deficit to seven points at the start of the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs went on to win, 47-26.

Portland’s defense has stood out. In the second game of the season, the Bulldogs blanked Edward Little, 33-0.

As a sophomore last season, Bolduc led the team with six interceptions. Through three games, he has three picks. Bolduc leads Class A North in kickoff return yardage with 226 on six returns.

“He has a nose for the ball and he has outstanding speed, ” said Portland Coach Jim Hartman.

“His strength is that he goes full speed all the time. There’s never a question with him on how to get to the end zone. He’s very quick and likes to run straight ahead. It was a very exciting play against Windham, and one that could be a season-changing play.”

Rutherford said Bolduc is one of the best safeties he has coached.

“He has instincts you can’t coach,” he said. “Dylan reads the play really quick and he is an excellent tackler. He had 13 tackles against Windham, and a lot of them were one-on-one situations.

“He reminds me a lot of Tanner Laberge, who played for Windham last year. They play a lot bigger than they are.”

Bolduc is also a backup running back and wide receiver. The Bulldogs have several players who can play multiple positions. Hartman calls them “interchangeable,” a valuable asset on a team that has just 30 players.

“We have a lot of tough, athletic players,” said Hartman.

The win over Windham, last year’s Eastern Class A champion (now Class A North) established the Bulldogs as a legitimate title threat. After a trip to Oxford Hills on Saturday, Portland hosts Cheverus next Friday.

WINDHAM HAS LOST another of its front-line skill players. In the first game, halfback Dylan Koza suffered a season-ending knee injury. On the last play of the Portland game, Eric Webb, a wide receiver and defensive back who also returns kicks, suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon. He is lost for the season.

“I got on the field at the end of the game and Eric was lying on the field,” said Windham Coach Matt Perkins. “I didn’t see what happened.

“We’ve had injuries like we’ve never had before. It’s not just those two guys, we have multiple injuries.”

Asked how the Eagles will deal with the injuries, Perkins said: “The next man has to step up.”

The injuries hit Windham at a particular tough time. The Eagles host Thornton Academy (3-0) Friday night in a rematch of last year’s Class A final, won by the Golden Trojans, 35-14.

“Thornton is so well-balanced offensively,” said Perkins. “On defense, they’re physical and they fire to the ball.”

BECAUSE OF CONCERNS about power outages affecting the lights at South Portland High School, the Red Riots’ game against Deering has been moved to Saturday at 2:30 p.m. It had been scheduled for Friday evening.