Cheverus senior Brett Bogosian (9) is congratulated by senior Orion Guibord after scoring the first touchdown in the Stags’ 54-8 victory over Yarmouth in Saturday’s season opener. Hoffer photos.

BOX SCORE

Cheverus 54 Yarmouth 8

Y- 0 0 0 8- 8
C- 14 24 8 8- 54

First quarter
C- Br. Bogosian 12 pass from Tremble (Fogg rush)
C- Fowler 85 run (pass failed)

Second quarter
C- Fogg 72 run (Fowler rush)
C- Fowler 14 run (Fowler rush)
C- R. Smith 48 run (Fowler rush)

Third quarter
C- Fowler 36 run (Fowler rush)

Fourth quarter
Y- LaBrecque 2 run (McGonagle rush)
C- Osei 59 run (Osei rush)

PORTLAND—Cheverus’ football team made its long-awaited return to the gridiron and its eight-man debut Saturday afternoon at Boulos Stadium and the Stags demonstrated that a powerful running game and a smothering defense will spell success, regardless of class.

Hosting the Yarmouth Clippers on a beautiful day, Cheverus needed just over four minutes to go on top to stay, as senior quarterback Richie Tremble connected with classmate Brett Bogosian for a 12-yard score and junior Matt Fogg added the two-point conversion rush for an 8-0 advantage.

Yarmouth then threatened to answer, driving as far as the Stags’ 5, but a false start penalty and an incomplete pass turned the ball over on downs and Cheverus made the Clippers pay, as senior Marshall Fowler broke away for an 85-yard score to make it 14-0 after one quarter.

The Stags were even more prolific in the second period, as Fogg scored on a 72-yard scamper, Fowler ran it in from 14-yards out and junior Rilan Smith scored on a 48-yard burst with Fowler scoring on two-point conversion rushes after each TD, extending the lead to 38-0 at the break.

With a mercy rule running clock in the third period, Cheverus added another touchdown, as Fowler scored on a 36-yard run and added the two-point conversion rush to make it 46-0.

Yarmouth fought until the end and got on the board on bruising junior Spencer LaBrecque’s 2-yard run and sophomore Michael McGonagle’s two-point conversion rush in the fourth quarter, but in the waning seconds, sophomore Joe Osei broke away for a 59-yard touchdown run and added the two-point conversion to bring the curtain down on the Stags’ impressive 54-8 victory.

Cheverus ran for 421 yards and forced a couple turnovers as it opened the season with a most impressive triumph.

“It’s rejuvenating to be back,” said Stags coach Mike Vance. “I think it went well. Almost everything we do transfers from 11-man football to eight-man. It’s just blocking and tackling and obviously we did some good things today.”

Brand new

Less than a decade ago, Cheverus was the two-time Class A champion and premier program in the state and while the roster was never enormous, there was plenty of depth. That evaporated over time and while the Stags remained competitive in Class A, and in Class B South two years ago, concerns about having enough players in future seasons led the school to make the announcement it was moving to eight-man football (which features three fewer players and a more narrow field) for the 2020 season, which never happened.

Yarmouth, meanwhile, made the move to eight-man for the 2019 campaign and went 4-5, losing, 52-50, eventual champion Mt. Ararat in the large division semifinals. Even in winning back-to-back Class C championships in 2010 and 2011, the Clippers have always had precarious numbers and eight-man was a logical step to keep the program flourishing.

Cheverus posted a 5-5 mark in 2019, losing to Kennebunk, 28-14, in the Class B South semifinals.

The Stags entered 2021 with a much bigger roster than the Clippers and in the teams’ first-ever countable meeting, eventually wore down the visitors and rolled to victory.

Yarmouth won the coin toss, but deferred possession to the second half and under 73-degree, sunny skies, Cheverus started at its 23 and needed nine plays and just over four minutes to march 77 yards to the game’s first score.

Fowler hinted at his big game to come by breaking free for a 22-yard run through the left side on the opening play. After LaBrecque threw Fowler for a two-yard loss and Fowler was held to no gain by junior Jaxson Dauphinee, Tremble found Bogosian open behind the defense for a critical 27-yard pickup on third-and-12.

“They beat us on third and long and that killed us,” lamented Yarmouth coach Jim Hartman.

After senior Orion Guibord gained three yards and Fowler ran for four, Fogg moved the chains with a 10-yard burst to the 13. Fowler was held to one yard on the next play, but again Tremble dropped back and Bogosian was wide open behind the defense. He hauled in the pass for a 12-yard score and with 7:38 to go in the third quarter, the Stags broke the ice.

Cheverus senior quarterback Richie Tremble rolls out and throws a touchdown pass to put the Stags ahead to stay.

“We can throw, but we’re run-first,” Vance said. “We completed some passes and that was good to see.”

Fogg added a two-point conversion rush to make it 8-0.

The Clippers then threatened to answer before being stopped just short.

After Dauphinee returned the ensuing kickoff to the Cheverus 48, Dauphinee ran for nine yards, then senior Adam Hewitt gained nine more for a first down at the 30. Dauphinee then picked up a yard and sophomore quarterback Sammy Bradford added three and on the play, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Stags was tacked on, moving the ball to the 12. Dauphinee gained five more, but Fogg stepped up and dropped Hewitt for a one-yard loss. Dauphinee picked up three more on third down, setting up fourth-and-3 from the 5, but a Yarmouth lineman jumped too early, costing his team five yards, then Bradford threw incomplete, giving Cheverus the ball back at its 10.

“Cheverus’ defense, since I’ve been here and long before me, is best in the red zone,” Fowler said. “We take pride in that.”

“That was big,” Vance said. “Anytime you get a stop in the red zone it’s a boost for your team. That’s what happened there and we got some momentum.”

And three plays later, the Stags added to their lead.

After LaBrecque and junior Kai Sullivan combined to throw Fowler for a three-yard loss and Fowler ran for eight, breaking several tackles in the process, Fowler got the ball again and swept to the left, found room, turned the corner and raced all the way to paydirt for an 85-yard score with 1:16 remaining in the frame. Tremble couldn’t complete a two-point conversion pass but the Stags had a 14-0 advantage.

“Eight-man feels the same,” said Fowler. “I’m running through the same holes, there’s just three less players on the field. It was great to the get the momentum early in the game and we didn’t let off the gas pedal. We just kept playing football.”

The Clippers got good field position again when they started at their 47. After Dauphinee and McGonagle each gained a yard, bringing an end to the first period, senior Sebastian Merrill dropped Dauphinee for a four-yard loss on the first play of the second quarter, forcing a punt.

Cheverus got the ball back at its 14 and again scored on a long play.

After Fogg rushed for nine yards and Guibord added five more, Fogg got the ball again, found a hole to his right and left the defense in his wake, en route to a 72-yard touchdown with 9:50 to go in the first half. Fowler rushed in the two-point conversion to make it 22-0.

Cheverus senior Marshall Fowler tries to get past Yarmouth senior Adam Hewitt.

Yarmouth then gave the Stags a gift on its next series.

The Clippers started at their 42, but after LaBrecque ran for two yards, Merrill dropped Hewitt for a one-yard loss and Bradford threw incomplete. LaBrecque dropped back to punt, but he dropped the snap, then tried to run, but was brought down by Fowler and sophomore Xavier Nadeau, giving Cheverus the ball at the Yarmouth 36.

Three plays later, the Stags were in the end zone again.

Fowler got things started with a 15-yard run and a facemask penalty on the Clippers tacked on five more yards to the 16. After Fowler ran for two yards, Fowler broke free through a big hole to his right and scored from 14-yards out with 6:47 left before halftime. Fowler then added the two-point rush to make it 30-0.

“My line is amazing, “Fowler said. “The blocking we have, my teammates are just great.”

“We don’t have the biggest kids you ever saw, but they’ve played varsity football and that experience definitely helps,” Vance said.

Yarmouth went three-and-out on its next series, as Merrill dropped Hewitt for a three-yard loss, Dauphinee picked up five yards, then Dauhpinee lost a yard after a fumbled exchange. After a punt, Cheverus got the ball back at its 39 with 4:36 left in the half.

Again, it took the Stags only three plays to find the end zone.

This time, after Fogg ran for eight yards, Smith got his chance and after he ran for five yards on his first carry, Smith found room to the left and outran the defense for a 48-yard touchdown. Fowler added the two-point rush and with 3:11 left in the second quarter, the lead was 38-0.

The Clippers would go three-and-out again, as Fowler dropped LaBrecque for a two-yard loss, LaBrecque ran for five yards and Bradford picked up two. After a delay of game penalty, Yarmouth punted and with 16 seconds remaining, Cheverus took over at its 35.

This time, the Stags wouldn’t score, for the only time in the half, as a one-yard Smith run ran out the clock.

In the first 24 minutes, Cheverus had a 351-31 advantage in yardage, as Fowler gained 146 yards on 10 carries and Fogg ran for 99 yards on four attempts.

The second half began inauspiciously for Yarmouth with a false start penalty and a fumbled exchange, which was recovered by Merrill.

The Stags took over at the Clippers’ 38, but couldn’t score.

After a false start, Fowler was dropped for a two-yard loss, Tremble kept the ball for a five-yard gain and Fowler ran for eight before a holding penalty and an incomplete pass gave Yarmouth the ball back on downs.

Again, the Clippers were generous guests, as after Bradford ran for seven yards and Hewitt gained one, a fumbled exchange put the ball on the ground and senior Braden Smith was there to recover it at the Yarmouth 45.

Yarmouth senior Adam Hewitt is corralled by Cheverus junior Peyton Mitchell.

Four plays later, Cheverus added to its lead.

Two Fowler runs gained a total of four yards and after Guibord picked up five, on fourth-and-1, Fowler broke free again and scored on a 36-yard burst to his right. Fowler added the two-point conversion and with 48.7 seconds left in the third quarter, the score was 46-0.

With a running clock, the Clippers didn’t start their next possession until the start of the fourth quarter and their best drive of the day resulted, a 12-play, 65-yard, 9-minute, 35-second march that ended with a touchdown.

The drive began with McGonagle losing two yards, courtesy Fowler, but Bradford gained nine and LaBrecque picked up six for a first down at the 48. LaBrecque then ran for five-yards, two-yards and two more and on fourth-and-1, LaBrecque kept the ball, ran left, broke multiple tackles and got all the way to the 25 for an 18-yard gain. After Bradford ran for 10 yards, Dauphinee picked up 11 for a first-and-goal at the 4.

LaBrecque lost five, fumbling the ball but getting it back, then Daupinee ran for five with a late hit penalty added in, to set up third-and-goal from the 2. LaBrecque then bulled his way into the end zone and McGonagle added the two-point conversion rush to make it 46-8 with 2:25 remaining.

Cheverus brought its second-team offense on for the final possession, starting at its 41, and on the first play, Osei broke free for a 59-yard score with 1:19 to go. Osei added the two-point conversion as well.

One play later, time ran out and the Stags’ 54-8 victory was complete in a tidy 1-hour, 50-minutes.

“It’s so awesome to be back,” said Fowler. “We had seven-on-seven last year, but it’s just not the same as real tackle football.”

Cheverus finished with 457 yards of offense.

Fowler led the way with 192 yards on 15 carries with three touchdowns and four two-point conversions.

Fogg wound up with 99 yards and a score on four attempts. He also had a two-point conversion rush.

Rilan Smith gained 53 yards and a TD on two rushes.

Osei ran once for 59 yards and a touchdown.

Guibord had three carries for 13 yards.

Tremble threw just twice, completed both attempts, good for 39 yards and a touchdown. He also ran once for five yards.

Bogosian caught two passes for 39 yards and a TD.

The Stags were penalized five times for 48 yards.

Yarmouth finished with 94 yards of offense.

LaBrecque gained 28 yards on 11 carries and had the Clippers’ lone touchdown.

“Spencer knows the game, he understands it and he can handle this speed level,” Hartman said.

Dauphinee rushed 10 times for 35 yards.

Bradford was 0-for-2 passing and ran five times for 31 yards.

Yarmouth turned the ball over twice and committed four penalties for 20 yards.

“We challenged them at halftime and they came out and played,” Hartman said. “The problem is that Cheverus is still playing at a level of speed that our kids have never seen before. It took us a half to catch up and unfortunately we were way down at halftime. If we’d been at their speed level, it would have been better.”

Onward

Yarmouth hopes to get in the win column next Saturday when it welcomes Traip Academy. Spruce Mountain pays a visit the following weekend.

“Playing Traip and Spruce Mountain gives us two teams at our size,” Hartman said. “We got punched now and understand it and hopefully, we’ll get better.”

Cheverus was supposed to play its first road game Friday at Maranacook, but that game has been cancelled. As a result, the Stags won’t play again until Sept. 18, when they host Lake Region.

“I think we have a shot at going very far this year,” Fowler said. “We have to work on immaturity and clean some stuff up.”

“We have opportunities to get better,” Vance said. “We’ll watch film and learn. I want to see us mature. We were a little immature at times today. We made some decisions on the field and the sidelines we don’t want to see.

“It’s frustrating not to play next week, but it is what is.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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