South Portland senior Anthony Poole finds a seam in the Cheverus defense. (Courtesy photo)

PORTLAND — Someday, in the not too distant future, when South Portland has returned to its rightful perch atop the high school football world, the Red Riots will look back at the events of Saturday afternoon at Boulos Stadium as the beginning of their renaissance.

Visiting Cheverus in an early-season battle of Class B South squads seeking their first victory, South Portland was pushed to the brink on several occasions, but kept pushing back and did just enough to get in the win column for the first time.

Both teams moved the ball in the first half, but couldn’t get the ball in the end zone and the game was scoreless at the break.

It appeared it would stay 0-0 through three quarters as well, but with 1:10 to go in the stanza, senior Sean Tompkins scored on a 9-yard run to give the Stags a 7-0 lead.

South Portland then got its offense going, as senior quarterback Anthony Poole wouldn’t be denied, spearheading a drive that culminated with Poole scoring from 20 yards out to tie it.

On the ensuing kickoff, Cheverus flirted with disaster, as Tompkins couldn’t collect the ball, but once he did, he took off and brought it all the way back for an 87-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead.

Again, the Red Riots answered, as Poole scored on a 6-yard run with 8:29 on the clock, but the two-point conversion failed and the Stags clung to a onepoint lead.

It didn’t last, as Cheverus fumbled and with 3:29 remaining, Poole hit se- nior Tyler Small for a 9-yard TD and while the two-point conversion failed, South Portland was on top for the first time, 19-14.

The Stags tried to answer, as Tompkins made a highlight-reel leaping catch on fourth down to set up first-and-goal from the 10, but the Red Riots came up with a huge defensive stand, forcing a fumble on fourth down, closing out their 19-14 victory in style.

Poole accounted for over 300 yards and all three South Portland scores and helped the Red Riots even their record at 1-1, dropping Cheverus to 0-2 in the process.

“This is a big one,” said first-year South Portland coach Aaron Filieo, a one-time standout player and assistant coach with the program. “It’s great. It was a great football day. The crowd was good and the energy was good. It’s a great feeling. I think more than anything, it’s about winning a football game, regardless of who we played.”

Way back in the fall of 1992, South Portland won the Class A state title, as Filieo served as a captain and all-state nose guard under the tutelage of John Wolfgram.

Wolfgram went on to establish himself as the state’s premier coach and he’s still on the sidelines, now assisting Mike Vance at Cheverus.

Filieo followed in Wolfgram’s footsteps, coaching 15 years at Cape Elizabeth, creating a perennial power and twotime reigonal champion out of a start-up program, then returning to South Portland this season as the head coach of the Red Riots.

Filieo’s debut was a 30-14 home loss to Deering last Friday while Cheverus also fell in its first game, 48-13, at Kennebunk.

The teams hadn’t met in a countable game since Sept. 14, 2012, a 42-0 Stags’ victory in South Portland.

Saturday, in front of a vocal crowd, on an overcast and occasionally drizzly 61-degree afternoon, the Red Riots beat Cheverus for the first time since Sept. 8, 2007 (14-6 in Portland), but they needed all 48 minutes to do so.

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