LISBON HIGH SCHOOL running back Noah Francis, here picking up yards Saturday against Winthrop/Monmouth in the Class D South regional final at Winthrop, leads the Greyhounds against Maine Central Institute in Saturday’s State Class D championship at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Kickoff is slated for 6:06 p.m.

LISBON HIGH SCHOOL running back Noah Francis, here picking up yards Saturday against Winthrop/Monmouth in the Class D South regional final at Winthrop, leads the Greyhounds against Maine Central Institute in Saturday’s State Class D championship at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Kickoff is slated for 6:06 p.m.

WINTHROP

 

 

It has taken a couple days, but my heartbeat has finally come down to an acceptable level.

For those of us lucky enough to be at Winthrop High School’s Maxwell Field on Saturday for the Class D South high school football title game, we were witnesses to a game that will be tough to be beat.

This was a contest that had more momentum swings than a typical Kim Kardashian night in Paris.

Figure just in the final two minutes, nine seconds, there were three lead changes. Both teams scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, with Lisbon’s Noah Francis doing what he does best, pushing defenders backwards and scoring the winning touchdown with less than one second remaining, giving Lisbon an improbable 20-17 victory.

LISBON’S TYLER HALLS (6) is about to deliver a pass on Saturday at Winthrop.

LISBON’S TYLER HALLS (6) is about to deliver a pass on Saturday at Winthrop.

Of course, Francis doesn’t get this chance if not for the play of quarterback Tyler Halls and diminutive receiver Kurtis Bolton.

Going back to that play, all seemed lost. Even legendary Lisbon coach Dick Mynahan had that feeling after Nate Scott hauled in a Matt Ingram pass for an 18-yard touchdown hookup with 16.4 seconds remaining, giving Winthrop/Monmouth a 17-14 lead.

Even after a short kickoff gave Lisbon the ball at its own 44-yard line, there was no way that the Greyhounds had a prayer.

Don’t tell that to Halls, who somehow had enough left-arm strength to launch a pass some 25 yards downfield while being torpedoed into the hard ground by a Ramblers defender, with his pass fluttering. Halls said his intended target was receiver Tyrese Joseph, a sure- fired All- Mountain Valley Conference basketball player this upcoming season, which by the way kicks off on Monday with winter practices.

Instead, the ball somehow found the 5-foot-8-inch Bolton among the masses of arms, helmets and shoulder pads. Bolton looked a bit surprised in all honesty that he had the ball, but quickly turned and sprinted toward the end zone as the shocked Lisbon faithful let out a collective — “did he catch it?”

Yes, Bolton caught the ball, with a Rambler defender delaying the inevitable with a shoe-string tackle six inches from the goal line.

Was there any doubt at all that Francis was going to get the ball? The 270-pound wrecking ball of a running back completed the stunning turnaround, and allows Mynahan, who has said on more than one occasion that this season is his last, another chance at a Gold Ball when the Greyhounds face Maine Central Institute on Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland at 6 p.m.

Dragons

Here we go again!

For the third straight season, Dan Cooper’s Brunswick Dragons are the Class B North champs and will play for that elusive Gold Ball Friday night in Orono at 7 p.m.

I can tell you this. There are few that are as classy as Cooper and his coaching staff. Here is a group of talented men who know now to reach and teach kids the game of football.

One thing that I like a lot about this team is its ability to overcome.

Figure, this season has been rather easy for the Dragons, who basically blew everyone out of the water through nine games.

Then came this past Friday against Brewer in the Class B North regional final. The Witches came to play and stayed with the Dragons for all four quarters.

Did the Dragons fold? Did the pressure of the moment take over? No way! Instead Brunswick showed its ability to win a close game when things didn’t go the way the game plan was drawn up.

It has been said on more than one occasion that a team’s mettle is shown when the going gets tough. In the past two seasons, it took a week six loss to get the Dragons refocused on the task at hand on the way to those title games.

This year, Brunswick heads to Orono undefeated, and faces a Rams team that has faced uphill challenges all year, with close games the norm for Kennebunk rather than the exception.

I can’t wait for Friday night, getting my first chance to cover a football game on the Black Bears’ home field. Plus, I get to spend some quality time with Cooper, that great coaching staff, including my old friend Dick Leavitt, and those polite, hard-working Dragons.

MPA

You will not find a bigger

supporter of the Maine Principals Association than myself.

The MPA takes a lot of heat throughout the season, with everyone supposedly having a better way of doing things. For those who love high school basketball, is there a better tournament than the ones the MPA holds in Augusta, Portland and Bangor each February and March? I think not!

Look, the MPA is in charge of every big sporting event in the state of Maine, a daunting task if you ask me.

There is one area where things, in my humble opinion, can be a bit better. It has to do with this weekend’s state football championships.

I really don’t have a problem with one game taking place at the University of Maine in Orono. The way it works is Classes B, C and D rotate, and this year just so happens to be the season that Brunswick faces Kennebunk for the State Class B title up north. So, Brunswick, Mid-coast, faces Kennebunk, from southern Maine, in Orono. Hmmm!

A better way to do this might be to wait until the final eight teams are decided, then figure out where the games will take place.

In Class C, Mt. Desert Island will travel all the way down to Portland to meet Wells. Can’t argue much with that, considering it is a journey for both teams.

In Class D, Lisbon faces MCI, which resides in Pittsfield. Now, this might have been the best game to house in Orono, with MCI only about a 30-minute jaunt to Orono, while Lisbon players would spend around two hours on the bus.

Another thing to consider is the times in Portland on Saturday.

One would think that the matchup between Class A teams Portland, which plays its home games on the Fitzpatrick Stadium turf, and Bonny Eagle and its loud fans from Standish, draw the primetime spot at 6 p.m.

Instead, the Class A title game kicks off at 11 a.m. Will the crowd for that game be large? Sure! Would it be bigger at say 6 p.m.? Absolutely!

Here is a suggestion. Rotate the three games in Portland each year. Don’t worry so much about how far a team has to travel. Typically, the team the farthest from Portland on Saturday, in this case, Mt. Desert Island, has the longest drive, so the Class C title game begins at 2:30 p.m.

However, no matter which way the MPA sets a schedule, there are going to be complaints. So perhaps I should just let the MPA be, continue to praise the organization’s hard work and move on. Friday and Saturday are going to be fun, no matter the order, or location of the games.

BOB CONN is The Times Record sports editor. He can be reached at [email protected]timesrecord.com.