After the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the 2020 season, getting back on the field is special for Maine high school football players. And their coaches.

Maybe that’s why new Biddeford Coach Steve Allosso choked up when he was surprised by his team with the game ball after the Tigers defeated Deering, 36-14, on Saturday in Portland. Joining the Tigers on the field for the postgame talk were the players’ parents and family members.

“It’s a community huddle, I call it. It just gives everyone a check after the game,” explained Allosso, who has previously been a head coach in Virginia and Massachusetts. “Football is emotional. It should be emotional. So what I’m saying to the kids, the parents all hear it and we’re all on the same table. It builds community. And I think that’s what Biddeford’s all about. And that’s what I’m all about.”

When Allosso was hired in January 2020 to replace retired Brian Curit, it marked the first time since 1977 the Tigers would be coached by someone who was not a Biddeford High graduate. He didn’t expect to have to wait more than 20 months to coach his first game, but it appears he and his hurry-up spread offense have been accepted by the players.

“For sure. We love Coach Allosso. He’s going to be an amazing coach in this program. We really think that,” said Brooks Marquis, a senior two-way lineman who keyed the Biddeford defense with a sack, a forced fumble that led to a touchdown, and three more tackles for loss.

Biddeford junior Ivan Ramos rushed for 136 yards, caught five passes for 32 yards and finished off Deering with bruising fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 14 and 24 yards.

It was also the first game as a head coach for Deering’s John Hardy, a 2011 Deering grad. Like Allosso, he was hired before the pandemic. Hardy has a very inexperienced team – he said about 15 of his players were playing in a real game for the first time on Saturday – but the roster has swelled to over 50 with a large freshman class.

“There were some who came over from soccer who had never played the game and they were on the field making plays,” Hardy said. “I’ve said this for a long time. This school is full of athletes, it’s just about finding the right ones that want to be football players.”

The Tigers opened the scoring with a rapid eight-play, 61-yard drive that took just 1:37 off the clock, finished with an 8-yard scramble by quarterback Jacob Landry, who completed 18 of 26 passes for 176 yards.

Deering answered with a 54-yard scoring pass from Wally Tibbetts to Charlie Benider and Tibbetts’ 2-point conversion run to take an 8-7 lead. After a poor Biddeford punt gave Deering great field position, Tibbetts found tight end Dempsey Brady for a 24-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 14-7.

Tibbetts (11 of 28, 175 yards) had been a kicker prior to the pandemic shutdown. In 2020, when only 7-on-7 flag football was allowed, he began to play some quarterback.

Biddeford tied the game 14-14 with 7:24 left in the first half on a Landry to Brycen Wolfahrt 24-yard pass and the second of Patrick O’Driscoll’s four point-after kicks.

Both teams were slowed by penalties and turnovers, but Deering’s miscues proved more costly.

Deering gave up a safety when a snap sailed over punter Carlos Muaco’s head and out of the end zone.

With under a minute to play in the first half, Marquis came off the right side of Biddeford’s defensive line unblocked, sacking Tibbetts and jarring the ball loose. Aiden Gosselin finished the play with a 33-yard scoop-and-score return for a 23-14 halftime lead.


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