The Westbrook High victory bell had not been rung by its football team in over three years.

The long silence was broken last Friday when the Blue Blazes celebrated a 20-7 win against perennial small-school power Wells, after winning at Nokomis in Week 1.

“They loved it. Every win is a good win, but to play a top-ranked team like that and to sneak away with a W was pretty fun to be a part of,” said Coach Brandon Dorsett, 35, who was 0-8 in 2019 in his first season as a varsity head coach.

In the southwestern corner of the state, the Noble Knights are also off to a surprising 2-0 start under their own young coach in his second full season. Keenon Blindow, 33, went 1-7 in his first season in 2019, the only win coming against Westbrook.

Dorsett and Blindow know each other only casually. But they share a similar philosophy that football success is built through consistent and incremental improvement.

“I emphasize trying to go 1-0 everyday,” Dorsett said. “That’s kind of our mantra. Try to get better every day as a person, as football players, as student-athletes. Just to be 1-0 every day and try to support and embrace that improvement.”

Blindow said, “I think the biggest thing for us is staying the course and being consistent. Our team motto is ‘One team, one heartbeat.’ That means taking care of each other and holding each other accountable. … We talk to the kids that success is built through every rep, every practice, every game.”

Dorsett is a 2005 graduate of Portland High who played at a junior college and then two years at Division I Colorado State, followed by assistant coaching stops at Falmouth, South Portland and, in 2018, at IMG Academy in Florida.

Blindow, from tiny Morgan, Vermont (pop. 669), played at Husson from 2006-10 and went immediately into coaching and teaching, with stops at Gardiner (two years) and Bangor (five seasons) before joining Noble as an assistant coach in 2018.

Westbrook entered the 2021 season on a 15-game losing streak, a stretch where it was beaten by an average of 36.4 points. Westbrook petitioned to play down in Class C (the school has a Class B-sized enrollment) prior to the pandemic-canceled 2020 season.

Many of the 2019 starters are back for this season, including junior quarterback Carter Dow, who hooked up with Colin Allen on a 15-yard TD for Westbrook’s first score against Wells and then clinched the game with a 30-yard scramble for the third touchdown. In between, Stevie White benefited from a well-blocked perimeter, then used his speed to turn a jet sweep into an 80-yard TD.

“We knew going in – I was trying to tell people – they’re good,” said Wells Coach Tim Roche. “I thought the quarterback was real good. They had some athletes and their line was decent. It’s a good-sized team.”

Wells scored on its first possession of the game, then was shut out. Dorsett credited linemen Ben Uegley, Evan Jones and Damen Chandler and linebackers Luke Morrison and Garren Post with strong play, adding that he was able to routinely rotate in fresh players.

Noble, which won only 16 games in 11 seasons from 2007-17, looked to be moving in the right direction in 2018 when it went 5-3 in the regular season under second-year coach Kelly Smith. But Smith did not return and Blindow became the sixth Noble head coach in nine seasons.

This season, Blindow has 17 seniors on a 60-man roster. After beating Messalonskee, 18-12, in the season opener, Noble scored on its first two possessions against Gorham and never let up, winning 28-0. The balanced offense features quarterback Dylan Mulligan and running back Anthony Prak. Top tacklers on defense are strong safety JT Chaisson and middle linebacker Blake Griffin. Nose guard Aaron Foley-Pratt, a quick 6-0, 225-pounder, is a disruptive force who often occupies two blockers.

Noble will be making its first road trip – and a likely step up in competition – on Friday when it is at Portland. Kickoff has been moved to 7:30 p.m. The Bulldogs are also 2-0 after going 1-7 in 2019. Portland beat Kennebunk in convincing fashion and then shut out Deering, 40-0.

AT LEAST SEVEN games have been canceled this weekend for COVID-related reasons.

In 11-man football, the cancellations are Madison/Carrabec at Poland, Belfast at Hermon, Falmouth/Greely at Mt. Blue, York at Oceanside and Old Town at Medomak Valley. In eight-man football, Houlton at Camden Hills and Ellsworth/Sumner at Waterville have been called off.

Six of the seven teams that were left without an opponent have been able to get together to create new contests. Class D Poland will host Class C Belfast at 6 p.m. Friday; Camden Hills will play at Waterville at 7 p.m. Friday; and Class C Medomak will visit Class B Falmouth at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. York is the odd team out, after Oceanside had to cancel.

Through three weeks, at least 18 games have not been played because of positive COVID-19 cases and subsequent quarantining of unvaccinated close contacts. That’s nearly 16 percent of the 114 originally scheduled games through Week 3.

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