GORHAM—Ram Tyler Rollins seemed genuinely baffled that I wanted to put him in the newspaper.

“I called you over here so you could be my interview,” I said.

“Really!?” he responded. Like he hadn’t just scored five (5!) – all five (5!), no less – of Gorham’s touchdowns in their 34-7 bludgeoning of Noble on Friday night, Sept. 6.

Tyler Rollins breaks away from the pack for his first TD of the night. Adam Birt / American Journal

And actually, Rollins didn’t have much to say about himself. He just wanted to talk about his teammates.

“I mean, [five touchdowns] does look good on the stats sheet,” he said, “but I couldn’t have done it without my line. My line’s always executing. You know, they get drilled, and they aren’t in the papers. But they do it for me, and without them, I don’t think I’d have five touchdowns.”

“Tyler is the most unselfish kid on this football team,” Gorham head coach Andy Hager said. “He will bust his behind for anyone and everyone and do everything he can to put…other people first in a position to succeed.”

Rollins wasn’t wrong to emphasize his teammates’ contributions. Certainly not. Somebody handed him the ball. Guys blocked so he could juke and spin and cut and all that. Defense made plays – sacks and INTs.

But five touchdowns grabs headlines.

Rollins tallied the first six points of the evening midway into the opening quarter, breaking away from the pack near midfield and hustling 50 yards or so into Noble’s end zone. The Rams followed up with a two-point conversion attempt, but the Knights’ defense brought down ball-carrier Beck Carrier before he could cross the goal line.

Tyler Rollins holds while his brother Isaac, ace kicker, boots away a PAT attempt. Adam Birt / American Journal

No harm done: Those two missed points made little difference in the end.

Isaac Rollins – he and Tyler are twins – kicked off, and Noble’s Logan Rendell returned. But the Knights reversed a few yards before beginning their drive, thanks to an illegal block in the back.

First and 10 at Noble’s own 18, but they wouldn’t make much progress that series: Gorhamite Shawn McKeage dropped Knights runningback Matt Beerworth in the backfield for a loss, Aaron Mains sacked Brandon Drake for another loss, and Rollins (Tyler, that is) interrupted a Drake pass attempt with good coverage.

Fourth and long, and Noble punted.

Rollins (Tyler) reeled in the punt around the Noble 35 – and ran it all the way home for his second TD. He then held the ball while his brother kicked a picture-perfect PAT. (Isaac, QBing for the Rams, turned in his own excellent game, it’s worth noting.)

Starting the season on a high note is meaningful to any team. And it’s especially meaningful for the Rams, who’ve been building their program for the past several years. In 2018, Gorham hit a satisfying .500 in the regular season and earned a playoffs berth

The Rams prep to kick off. Adam Birt / American Journal

“Of course,” Rollins (Tyler) said, asked if this W was particularly important. He added: “A big thing for us, for our grade, is we have 18 returning seniors, and we have such a bond, because we’ve been playing with each other for 10 years. It’s always nice to be fighting a war with your boys.”

“Super exciting,” Hager said. “I’m super happy we can help a group of kids get to 1-0 and have that experience…that they haven’t had before. We have an amazing group of kids that honestly, truly, genuinely love each other and are working their tails off for each other. It’s a special group.”

Rollins (Isaac) kicked off once more. The Knights began their next series at their own 38, then managed to earn a first down on a six-yard Drake pass to Tyreek Rose, but that’s when their progress halted. Soon, they punted.

Rollins (Tyler) fielded the kick, and nearly battled his way through a thicket of Knights to break away again. But Noble brought him down around the Rams’ 22. The ensuing drive didn’t turn up any more Gorham points.

In fact, the Rams’ momentum ebbed a little for the next several minutes; Rollins (Issac) even threw an interception late in the second quarter. (To be fair, his throw didn’t miss its mark. The ball found Tyler Rollins; a Knight simply battled him for it and somehow came away with it.)

Still, Noble failed to capitalize on the takeaway, and halftime arrived with the Rams still on top.

Isaac Rollins reels in an INT. Adam Birt / American Journal

Hager owned up to worrying mildly about his offense being a one-man show. “Yeah, I do. I think we’re pretty bland and vanilla right now. There’s a lot of stuff we’ve got to polish, and we certainly have other weapons we want to go to. But it’s hard to not keep feeding [Tyler].”

Hager praised Isaac Rollins as well. “He’s pretty good,” Hager said, throwing in that “pretty” for understatement. “I’ll even out [the offense] next week.”

Gorham dominated through the downhill half as well. Zach Shaw returned the opening kickoff for the Rams. Shortly, Rollins (Isaac) hit Shaw with a beautiful 28-yard pass for a first down deep in Noble territory. From there, the Rollins boys took turns running, with Tyler ushering home the 19-0 TD. Isaac then nailed the PAT kick.

20-zip.

“People don’t see the Tyler Rollins that packed three meals a day all last year, good healthy meals,” Hager said. “[The Tyler Rollins that] came to the weight room five days a week. He’s just a driven kid in an age of un-driven young people, in my opinion.”

Noble finally got on the board after that. Back-to-back flags cost the Rams hefty yardage before Knight Chris Pilcher skittered 20, up the middle and across the goal line. 20-7.

Zach Shaw carries into the fray for Gorham. Adam Birt / American Journal

Rollins (Tyler) ran and ran and ran some more on Gorham’s next drive. Soon, he had run into the Noble end zone again. And again his brother hit the PAT kick. 27-7.

Hager nodded to his defense, too. “Our defensive coordinator, Sam Morrison, is unreal. He’s one of the smartest young people, if not one of the smartest football guys, in the state of Maine. And our defensive line is just a bunch of men out there. They play fast and they play physical and they want to get after it.”

Kyle Ouillette sacked Drake on Noble’s follow-up series, and Carrier intercepted him. Tyler Rollins quickly proceeded to cap his evening with TD No. 5. His brother then hit yet another extra point, and the scored sat at 34-7.

Little happened across the remainder of the outing. Isaac Rollins stopped what would’ve been a kickoff return for a TD, dragging down a Knight at Gorham’s own 43. And even after that long, long run, Noble couldn’t find the Rams’ end zone.

The final score ran a bit counter to Tyler Rollins’s prediction, as it turns out. “I expected a good game,” he said. “We’ve always been a rivalry. Eighth grade, we used to battle it out pretty hard. So I was expecting it to be kind of closer. But it was still a hard-fought game.”

Gorham, 1-0 to start their 2019, travels to Deering on Friday, Sept. 13.

Zach Shaw reels in a huge pass. Adam Birt / American Journal

Peter Richards drives into a block for the Rams. Adam Birt / American Journal

Tyler Rollins zooms towards his umpteenth touchdown of the game. Adam Birt / American Journal

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