No. 3 Scarborough, on the road at No. 2 Bonny Eagle, needed to score – and they needed to do it now. Right damn now. Trailing 14-7, the Storm cradled one last down in their hands, one last shot to cross the goal line, to even things up, to extend the night. And they had to extend the night if they hoped to extend their season.

Scarb QB Chase Cleary scooped up the snap and cut left: nine yards stood between him – his hands, gripping the ball – and the BE end zone. But those nine yards might as well have been nine miles. Leagues. Hell, they might as well have been light-years. Because Cleary never got across them.

Scots Nate Ferris, Cam Gardner and Alex Dyer read Cleary like a new Harry Potter book (call it “Harry Potter and the Winning Tackle”). The trio converged on Cleary, leapt on him and smothered him into the turf.

14-7 the final.

“This group, this team, and these seniors, are awesome,” Bonny Eagle head coach Kevin Cooper said. “I love coaching them. How can you not love coaching guys like Zach Maturo and Nate Ferris and Keegan Meredith? So to be able to spend one more week with them, heading to a State Championship game, pretty cool.”

Both Scarb and BE boast high-voltage offenses, so a low-scoring battle between them indicates a defensive tug-of-war. Friday night was exactly that.

Bonny Eagle’s first drive, the opening drive, started hot: Jake Humphrey carried the kickoff to first and 10 at the Scots’ own 35, QB Meredith connected with Maturo for 13, then ran for 11 himself and hit Ferris for 12 more. Unfortunately, the series ended dead on a cold slab. Meredith threw for Humphrey on fourth and six at Scarborough’s 25, but Cleary homewrecked the would-be marriage and the Storm took over on downs.

“We came out slow,” Gardner said, “and that was on us. But we know that to be able to win, we’ve got to pick it up on the defensive end – we filled our gaps and finished our tackles.”

Scarb are hardly a one-trick pony, but they do have a best trick, a real dazzler: senior Jarrett Flaker, whom you might know better as The Fastest Kid In The State, since he holds umpteen sprinting records. To shut down the Storm, BE needed to shut down Flaker, because if he gets out front by a step – he’s gone.

Easier said than done, corraling that colt, but Bonny Eagle’s got it mostly down to a science. Sure, sure, Flaker turned in a couple 18-yard runs on Scarborough’s first possession, but Garison Emerson also held him to a four-yard gain, while Ferris figured him out and dropped him for a loss of five. And, okay, Cleary connected with Flaker for a 27-yard TD to cap the series – but that’s also when the scoring well ran dry for the Storm.

“When Flaker goes in jet motion, he’s so dangerous,” Cooper said. “You’ve got to put a guy going his way right away; if you wait at all, he’s so dynamic that you can’t recover. We try to send a guy – you saw Nate Ferris make a couple plays on him early. We try to mix up looks on the edge, so Scarborough can’t really get a handle on how we’re trying to support the run out there. And then you’ve just got to go, you’ve got to get hats to the ball, and when you’ve got [Flaker] turned back in, the rest of the team has got to come fast and make plays. That was the best thing tonight; once we turned him in, our guys really pursued to the ball and got to him and were able to bring him down”

“We definitely focused on Flaker from the start of the week,” Gardner said. “But we knew they had a lot more assets, with Chase Cleary and [Thomas Galeckas] in the backfield. We were working all around with those three, but Flaker was definitely a big key to stopping these guys on offense.”

“Our d-line stepped up; they made the stops the needed to,” Dyer said. “We got around the end with Gardner, Nate and Garison; they all came up, stood Flaker up and were able to fill and stop him for no gain a bunch of times.”

“We know the plays they run with him,” Ferris said of Flaker. “So it’s all about maintaining your gaps and pursuing the football. You’ve got to turn Flaker back inside and then you’ve got to trust that the rest of your guys are coming to get him.”

Scarborough thwarted BE’s next drive, but the Scots keep a rabbit or two stashed beneath their hats – helmets, whatever – and Maturo fake-punted. From fourth and six at Bonny Eagle’s own 35, Maturo carried for 10 and a new set of downs.

Alas, BE still couldn’t convert: The Scots relinquished nine yards across the ensuing three snaps, and Maturo punted again – sincerely, this time. On the upside (for Bonny Eagle), Scarb fumbled two downs into their follow-up series and BE recovered.

Ferris ran for 12, Maturo for 33 and Meredith for 11 to begin the Scots’ possession. But false-start and delay-of-game flags soon mired them in a fourth-and-12 at the Storm 21. Meredith lofted up a ball for Ferris, but it sailed a bit long and Scarborough took over on downs.

BE finally balanced the scoreboard in the second quarter. Bode Day Coombs carted a short Scarborough punt to the Scots’ own 45 – great field position – and Meredith ran for nine on first down to push into Storm territory. But Scarb halted the Scots’ advance after that, holding both Ferris and Maturo to no-gain runs.

Fourth and one at the Storm 46. Bonny Eagle lined up quick – quick enough to catch Scarborough a bit out-of-rhythm – and snapped; Maturo scampered. He needed one and he got it: first and 10 at the Scarborough 45. Maturo ran left for 10, then left again for eight more. Second and two at the Scarb 27.

Ferris’s turn to carry: He sidled through the middle, shucked the Storm defense – and broke away for a dash to the end zone. Ace kicker Cam MacDonald split the uprights for BE, tying things at 7-7.

“We schemed it up during the week,” Cooper said of the scoring play. “We wanted to run that play to a certain Scarborough look, we got the look that we wanted, our o-line blocked it up great, Nate made a great cut. When he can get a little space and get going, he’s really hard to tackle in the open field. He’s just so shifty; he makes cuts that a lot of kids don’t anticipate.”

“It felt good,” Ferris said of the run. “We had a read we had to make to decide which way the play was going; we made the read, handed me the ball – and it just opened. I didn’t do anything, all credit to the guys up front. All I had to do was run it from there. Our guys up front dominated all night; the skillies just stalled a few times in the red zone. I give the credit to the lines.”

The sides kept up their impressive defense as the second quarter dwindled, as the third dawned and set, as the fourth arrived. A long list of Scots contributed to holding Scarborough silent for the remainder of the night: Gardner, Emerson, Ferris, Maturo, Humphrey, Dyer, Nick Klein, John Dugan, Eli LeBlanc, Dawson Bradway, Will Horton, etc. You name a BE defender, he probably helped out in some critical moment.

“Unreal, right?” Cooper said of his defense. “To be able to hold a team with the talent that Scarborough has to another touchdown – second game of the year, we held them to a touchdown – really, pretty amazing. And in both games, we gave up an early score and shut them out the rest of the way. I can’t say enough about how our guys played on defense tonight; it was awesome.”

“We just knew we had to play as a group of 11,” Ferris said. “The guys [Scarborough has], they’ve got some weapons. But if everyone does their job, they can’t score – they couldn’t. Our defense, we swarmed to the ball. You’ve got to play as a group, you’ve got to be tight-knight, you’ve got to trust in one another and that’s what we did.”

Emerson nearly intercepted a Cleary pass attempt with 2:46 remaining in regulation, and two downs later, Ferris sacked Cleary on a hit so big, an emergency notification vibrated your favorite sportswriter’s phone – the United States Geological Survey, warning of dangerous seismic activity in the area.

Then, just as the clock hit 0.0,  Bradway successfully picked off a Cleary throw – a Hail Mary, Full of Grace, Please Let This Football Find Its Man and Please Let That Man Find the End Zone.

“An offense like Scarborough, with so many weapons, they make you play the whole field,” Cooper said. “They make you play with 11 guys. We had great efforts by a lot of our guys: Our linebackers made plays, Garison Emerson had a pass breakup, and obviously Nate Ferris had a huge sack there in the last series of regulation. Alex Dyer always plays awesome. So our defense, pretty incredible tonight.”


The rules are simple – as simple as rules come, in football: Each team begins at the 10, and has four downs to work with. If one team scores and the other does not, there’s your winner.

The Scots elected to attack first, and scored in three downs – three Maturo runs, the last from the Scarborough one-yard line. A false start flag on the PAT pushed Bonny Eagle back for MacDonald’s kick, but no matter: MacDonald nailed the point anyway. 14-7.

Scarb couldn’t match BE’s tally. Jarrett Flaker ran the Storm’s first snap, but Bradway and Humphrey dragged him to the earth after a mere yard. Cleary tried a pass, to Jayden Flaker, and then another pass, to Dominic Spina. Cleary aimed the first ball a bit low; Spina dropped the second.

Fourth down and nine. Cleary bobbled the snap, but recovered. He darted left – only for Ferris, Gardner and Dyer to converge on him, wrap him up, piledrive him into the grass. A healthy two yards still stood between Cleary and the goal line.

Bonny Eagle had won.

“We got lucky on one of those passes,” Cooper said. “But it’s tough to score down there; you could say the same thing about some of our passes. We trusted our guys to go make plays, to win a game, and that’s what they did in the end. It was a great effort in overtime for our d.”

“It looked like [Cleary] was going to drop back,” Gardner said, “for one of the few draws they’ve liked to run all season long. But he bobbled the snap, so he really just had to get out of there. I was pursuing backside, and [me and Alex and Nate] just came together and made the tackle and sealed the victory.”

“I saw Flaker run the shallow route,” Dyer said, “and I went to the shallow route. I’m not going to take credit that isn’t mine; it was Nate that got the tackle with Cam.”

Give Dyer a least a little credit: He did join in the tackle with Ferris and Gardner – he was just the last of the three to do so. But, hey, every sundae needs a cherry on top. Every movie needs a last line. Every sentence needs ending punctuation!

Scarborough bows out of 2019 at 8-3. When the Storm and the Scots clashed in the regular season, back on Sept. 13, Bonny Eagle walked away the victors, 18-7.

BE jumps to 10-1 on the autumn. The Scots dismembered No. 7 Lewiston (2-8) 48-0 in Nov. 8’s tournament quarterfinals to earn their semis bout vs. Scarborough. Bonny Eagle advances to this Saturday, Nov. 23’s title fight, where they’ll face off with the only opponent to get the better of them this season, reigning State Champions Thornton Academy.

BE held – for three quarters and more – an ever-so-slight edge in their regular-season matchup with the Trojans, who only turned the tides and secured the W in the late going. No doubt the Scots won’t have forgotten a single one of their missteps from the contest; no doubt they won’t have forgotten TA’s every nimble cut, every connected pass, every smart play-call. Cooper & Co. will have dissected for it all. Expect the game of the year.

Scarb QB Chase Cleary fails to reach the end zone on the Storm’s last play of the game. Alex Dyer (8), Cam Gardner (14) and Nate Ferris (buried, bottom-left) take Cleary to the ground. Adam Birt / American Journal

The BE Captains – Nate Ferris (6), Shaun Brilliant (12) and Will Horton (75) – stride onto the field to meet their Scarborough counterparts prior to OT. Adam Birt / American Journal

Nate Ferris launches into a crushing, late-game sack of Scarborough QB Chase Cleary. Adam Birt / American Journal

Nate Ferris surveys the Scarborough offense, eyeballing, perhaps, a route towards Storm QB Chase Cleary, who Ferris is about to annihilate. Adam Birt / American Journal

Nate Ferris blocks for star BE runner Zach Maturo. Adam Birt / American Journal

BE’s Cam Gardner clashes on defense with a Scarborough opponent. Adam Birt / American Journal

Cam Gardner lines up for the Scots. Adam Birt / American Journal

John Dugan lines up for the Scots. Adam Birt / American Journal

BE QB Keegan Meredith waits for a snap. Adam Birt / American Journal

BE’s Jake Humphrey lays out after a catch. Adam Birt / American Journal

Zach Maturo runs for the Scots. Adam Birt / American Journal

Jake Humphrey clashes with Scarborough’s Jayden Flaker. Adam Birt / American Journal

BE’s Jake Humphrey reels in a long pass from QB Keegan Meredith. Adam Birt / American Journal

John Dugan is among numerous key figures on the stalwart BE defense, Adam Birt / American Journal

Keegan Meredith carries (the ball, and a Scarborough defender) on the run for BE. Adam Birt / American Journal

Zach Maturo is one of the State’s best runningbacks. Adam Birt / American Journal

Nate Ferris runs for the Scots. Adam Birt / American Journal

Keegan Meredith surveys his pass options. Adam Birt / American Journal

Alex Dyer tracks the action. Adam Birt / American Journal

The BE o-line – including Thomas Horton (76) and Garrett Gonyea (51) – gets set for the snap. Adam Birt / American Journal

Keegan Meredith extends the ball for a potential handoff. Adam Birt / American Journal

The Scots debrief after their win. Adam Birt / American Journal

BE senior Zach Maturo and head coach Kevin Cooper hug after the game. Adam Birt / American Journal

Nate Ferris (6) and Zach Maturo (7) celebrate together. Adam Birt / American Journal

Jake Humprhey (1) and Shaun Brilliant (12) celebrate midair as the rest of the victorious Scots converge in their direction. Adam Birt / American Journal

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