Kennebunk quarterback Gray Compton (5) yells out to his teammates before taking a snap during the Rams’ season opening game against Marshwood. Kennebunk beat Marshwood 12-0 at UNE Blue Storm Field Sunday afternoon (SAM BONSEY/Journal Tribune)

BIDDEFORD — The Kennebunk Youth Football team’s dreams of a championship last season ended with a loss to the Marshwood Little Hawks in the title game in November.

Despite the heartbreaking defeat the seventh and eighth-graders, Kennebunk assistant coach Josh Barstow was just hoping to see the Rams execute what they’ve learned during the preseason.

The result was a 12-0 win over the Hawks at the University of New England’s Blue Storm Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

“The important thing to remember is that even though last year happened, they’re just eighth-graders now,” Josh Barstow said. “There’s still a lot of football we have to learn. We’ve really been focusing on tackling and running the ball. There’s really nothing more than that. 

The Rams leaned on the run on their first offensive possession, getting two runs for more than 10 yards from Jonah Barstow to put Kennebunk at Marshwood’s four-yard line. On Kennebunk’s next play, quarterback Gray Compton found wide receiver Joey Woloszyn in the endzone to take a 6-0 with 4:11 left in the first.

Kennebunk held that lead into halftime while doing its best to contain Marshwood running back Riley Parnham. Parnham overpowered the Rams’ defense at times, often needing multiple Kennebunk defenders to take him down. Parnham rushed for 44 yards in the first half, but penalties contained Marshwood from finding the endzone. 

With the Hawks driving late in the second quarter, Parnham let loose for a 13-yard rush to the Kennebunk three-yard line. But consecutive false starts pushed the Hawks back to the 13-yard line. Marshwood eventually turned the ball over on downs.

Neither team was able to get much going offensively in the third quarter. The Kennebunk staff made a defensive adjustment at halftime with Parnham by trying to force him to the outside, rather than using the running back’s size to barrel through his opponents.  

“To (Marshwood’s) credit, they have some big kids who do a lot of damage,” Josh Barstow said. “(Riley Parnham) is a big kid, hard to take down. So we just took chances by putting more kids up the middle and try to stop him.”

With the game still hanging in the balance late in the fourth, the Rams went to Jonah Barstow to put the nail in the coffin.

After a seven-yard run to put the Rams at the three-yard line, the running back ran in for a score on a sweep play to the left to give Kennebunk a 12-0 lead with 2:33 left.

The win over a foe as formidable as Marshwood was an encouraging sign for Kennebunk. Josh Barstow said opening games can often be a “rust-buster” for both sides, but for a team that features several new players, the win was a positive step towards a successful season.

“We were juggling kids around. We had three first-year players playing defense today,” Josh Barstow said. “They had never played football before, but we have some athletes. And our challenge is going to stay healthy. If we stay healthy, I think we’ll be fine.”

 

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