CUMBERLAND—It’s safe to say that the rebuilding phase of Greely’s eight-man football program is over.

And that the sky is now the limit for the resurgent Rangers.

Just ask the team wearing the crown.

Friday evening at Glenn Hutchins Field, Greely, which didn’t win a single game last season in its return to stand-alone status, hosted reigning large division state champion Yarmouth and produced its finest defensive effort in memory and as a result, earned a victory that the program’s players, coaches and fans won’t soon forget.

The Rangers made an immediate statement, going on top to stay when junior Wes Piper broke away for a 51-yard touchdown run on fourth down just over two minutes into the game and while the two-point conversion failed, Greely was on its way.

The Rangers’ defense then took center stage, holding Clippers senior running back extraordinaire Michael McGonagle, who ran for 503 yards last week, at bay and keeping Yarmouth off the scoreboard.


Late in the first half, Piper doubled the lead to 12-0 with a 6-yard TD run, but on the penultimate play before halftime, McGonagle scored on a 2-yard run and senior quarterback Sam Bradford added a two-point conversion rush to pull the Clippers within 12-8.

Yarmouth would get the ball three times in the second half with a chance to take the lead and on its final possession, the Clippers appeared to do so with a long touchdown pass, but a holding call brought it back.

Greely then got the ball back with 8:20 remaining and in a drive for the ages, highlighted by the running of senior back Jerik Phillips and junior quarterback Andrew Padgett, managed to drain every second and run out the clock on a 12-8 victory.

The Rangers won their second game in a row, evened their record at 3-3 and in the process, snapped Yarmouth’s win streak at eight games and dropped to Clippers to 5-1.

“This means everything to the guys,” said Greely coach Caleb King. “They work super-hard and we push them every day. They’re a deserving group. We went 0-7 last year and everybody came back. Nobody quit. This team doesn’t have any quit in them and it shows. I’m really proud of them.”

Changing of the guard?


Yarmouth won the eight-man, large school title a year ago in memorable, come-from-behind fashion over Waterville (30-26) and hasn’t disappointed this fall as the favorite.

The Clippers started with a 30-6 home win over Mt. Ararat, then prevailed at Spruce Mountain (59-14), at Lake Region (52-20) and at home over Gray-New Gloucester (38-20). Last week, Yarmouth outlasted visiting Mountain Valley, 46-38, as McGonagle rewrote the record books with 503 rushing yards.

Greely, a one-time competitive program in Class B, which, due to low numbers, formed a co-op with Falmouth for a few seasons before starting anew at the eight-man level in 2022, has been much more competitive this autumn and has clearly turned the corner.

The Rangers started in style with a 64-26 victory at Lake Region, then lost at Camden Hills (28-8). Greely then dropped consecutive home games which could have gone the other way, 42-38 to Brunswick and 34-28 to Mt. Ararat before enjoying an inspirational 28-26 overtime win over Waterville last weekend.

Last year, in the teams’ first countable meeting, Yarmouth rolled to a 50-20 victory in Cumberland.

Friday, on a misty but comfortable evening (61 degrees at kickoff), the Rangers, after their seniors and their families were honored in a pregame ceremony, came out and set the tone with an impressive opening drive.


Greely senior Jerik Philips finds running room early in the Rangers’ 12-8 upset win over Yarmouth Friday. Hoffer photos.

Greely started at its 42 after the opening kickoff went out of bounds and in four plays and 2 minutes, 4 seconds, struck paydirt to take the lead for good.

Phillips ran for four yards on first down, but on second down, he was dropped for a two-yard loss by sophomore Liam Henning. On third-and-7, senior Jonah Guibord was held to four yards, but on fourth-and-3, King decided to go for it and Piper got the ball on a pitch right, turned the corner and outraced the pursuit to the end zone for a 51-yard touchdown run with 9:56 left in the opening stanza.

“I just saw a wide open field and I had to just run,” Piper said. “I just had to make the most of it. That gave us confidence for the rest of the game.”

“That was crazy,’ Padgett said. “I was so hyped. It set the tone.”

“It was hugely important to score first,” King added.

The Rangers hoped to add a two-point conversion, but Guibord was stopped short, keeping the score 6-0.


Yarmouth began its first possession at its 38, but on its first offensive play, a bad exchange put the ball on the ground and Greely sophomore Gavin Michaud recovered the fumble at the Clippers’ 37.

Greely sophomore Gavin Michaud is congratulated after recovering an early fumble.

The Rangers couldn’t take advantage, however.

After Piper picked up seven yards, consecutive holding penalties set up second-and-23 and after Phillips was dropped for a one-yard loss by McGonagle, Phillips ran for 10 yards, but on fourth-and-10, Padgett threw incomplete and Yarmouth got the ball back on downs at its 37.

McGonagle’s first carry of the night proved to be his most productive, as he scampered for 11 yards for a first down at the 48. McGonagle then ran for three yards, followed by a six-yard pickup, setting up third-and-1. This time, senior Rufus MacVane got the call and thanks to a second effort push, MacVane gained the yard necessary for a first down at Greely’s 42. McGonagle then ran for seven yards, followed by a four-yard pickup for another first down at the 31, but after McGonagle gained three yards, then MacVane did the same, McGonagle was held to a one-yard pickup, setting up fourth-and-3 and the Rangers were able to hold, when a pitch from Bradford to McGonagle was off target and while McGonagle fell on the loose ball, Greely took over on downs at its 30 late in the first quarter.

Padgett started the next drive with a run of three yards, then he kept the ball again for four, but on the final play of the frame, Piper was thrown for a six-yard loss by Bradford and on the opening play of the second period, Phillips gained seven yards, but he needed nine and the Clippers got the ball back at the Rangers’ 38.

Yarmouth could do nothing with the field position, however, as after MacVane gained one yard, McGonagle picked up two, then three, setting up fourth-and-four, where McGonagle was stuffed for no gain.


Greely began its next drive at its 32 and went three-and-out, as Padgett ran for three yards, then threw incomplete, as sophomore Adam Pelotte knocked the ball down, before throwing incomplete while under pressure from MacVane. King had the Rangers go for it on fourth-and-7 from their 35 and it appeared his gamble struck it big when Piper broke away for a 65-yard touchdown run, but a holding penalty negated it and the Rangers had to punt.

With 7:55 left in the half, the Clippers started at their 42 and again, Greely stood tall, holding McGonagle to one yard, then four, then on third-and-5, Bradford’s long pass to open junior Stephen Abbott wasn’t hauled in. On fourth down, a bad snap led to a loss of 17 yards and the Rangers took over at Yarmouth’s 45 with 6:17 to go in the half, poised to score again.

Greely needed just four plays and 2:17 to find the end zone and double the lead.

Phillips found some room on the right side and rumbled 23 yards to the 22 on first down. After Phillips ran for five more yards, the Clippers jumped offsides and the Rangers had first down at the 12. After Piper gained six yards, he capped the march with a 6-yard TD run to the right and with exactly 4 minutes to go before the break, even though the ensuing two-point conversion failed due to a bad snap, Greely was on top, 12-0.

Little did anyone know that the Rangers wouldn’t score again or that it wouldn’t matter.

Henning returned the ensuing kickoff 15 yards to the Greely 48 and that sparked what proved to be Yarmouth’s lone scoring drive of the night, a nine-play, 3:47 march.


McGonagle was held to three yards on first down, then Bradford threw incomplete, but after McGonagle picked up three yards to set up fourth-and-4, McGonagle pushed the pile for five yards and a first down at the Rangers’ 37. Bradford ran for a yard, then threw incomplete, but on third-and-9, the quarterback dropped back to pass, eluded pressure, then scrambled 32 yards to set up first-and-goal at the 4 as Clippers coach Jim Hartman called timeout with just 25.4 seconds to go.

McGonagle got the call in close, but was stopped at the 2 and Yarmouth had to call timeout again with just 13.7 seconds showing.

The Clippers, in a calculated risk, kept the ball on the ground and McGonagle wouldn’t be denied, bulling in from the 2 with just 8.9 seconds left. Bradford then added the two-point conversion rush to cut the deficit to 12-8.

Greely ran one final play before halftime, a Padgett incompletion, and while the Rangers had done so much right in the first 24 minutes, it appeared the defending champions had momentum at the break.

Yarmouth fully expected to get McGonagle and its offense going in the second half, but it wouldn’t happen.

Greely junior Owen Stewart (21) and junior Wes Piper prepare to tackle Yarmouth senior Michael McGonagle.

The Clippers began the second half with the ball at their 39, but after McGonagle ran for a yard, then for seven, MacVane was dropped for a five-yard loss by Greely senior Brayden Van Pembrook to set up fourth-and-7, where McGonagle appeared primed to punt, then took off with the fake, but was held to just three yards, giving the Rangers the ball at the Yarmouth 45.


Greely then threatened to score again, as it got some help from the opposition.

After Phillips was held to a yard, Padgett gained five (after breaking a tackle attempt behind the line of scrimmage by Clippers senior Trent Richard), then, after a false start penalty cost five yards, Phillips picked up just two, but facing fourth-and-7, the Rangers were bailed out when the Yarmouth sideline was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, as a coach was on the field, giving Greely first down at the 27. After Phillips ran for five yards and Padgett threw incomplete, the Yarmouth bench was called again for unsportsmanlike conduct and the Rangers had first down at the 12.

But they couldn’t punch it in.

After Phillips ran for five yards, then picked up one, Padgett kept it for two yards, setting up fourth-and-2 from the 4, where Padgett was bottled up for no gain, giving the ball back to the Clippers.

Yarmouth started to drive, as McGonagle gained a yard, then got loose for seven and on third-and-2, McGonagle rushed for five for a first down. After McGonagle ran for three yards, he gained seven more for a first down at the 27. The Clippers then shot themselves in the foot with a holding penalty and after Bradford ran for five yards, he threw incomplete, then did so again under pressure from junior Carter Wilson and Yarmouth had to punt.

With 1:01 remaining in the third quarter, Greely started at its 47, but after Phillips ran for five yards, the Rangers were backed up 15 yards by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. On the final play of the frame, Phillips ran for four yards and on the first snap of the final stanza, Piper gained six yards, but it set up fourth-and-10. Greely went for it and Phillips got a little running room, but he was brought down after a gain of eight and the Clippers got the ball back on downs.


Yarmouth didn’t start at its 45, however, but was backed up to the 30 after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the end of the previous play. Bradford then provided hope by running free for 27 yards down the left sideline, with a MacVane block springing him free. After MacVane ran for seven yards, McGonagle was held to none and that set the stage for the game’s most pivotal play.

On third-and-3 from the 36, Bradford dropped back, moved up in the pocket, then threw a strike down the field to Abbott, who hauled in the catch for an apparent 36-yard, go-ahead TD reception.

But behind the play, a yellow flag lay on the field and it was holding against the Clippers, not only negating the score, but setting up third-and-13 from the 46. After an incomplete pass, Hartman chose to punt, expecting his defense would get a stop and that his offense would get one final chance.

But instead, Yarmouth never saw the ball again.

With 8:20 remaining, Greely started at its 29 and in a backbreaking, time-milking drive, the kind of drive the Clippers have prided themselves on in recent seasons, the Rangers picked up four first downs and were able to run the clock down to zero.

Phillips began the drive with gains of four yards, then one and on third-and-5, Padgett kept the ball, rolled left and gained 10 yards for a first down at the 44. Phillips then had gains of seven and five to set up a first down at the Yarmouth 44. After Padgett kept for three yards, then picked up two, the Clippers, uncharacteristically, jumped offsides to give Greely another first down, at the 34.


Yarmouth was now desperate to get a stop, but after Phillips ran for three yards, then gained three more, Padgett essentially iced it by running for five yards on third-and-4 for a first down at the 23.

“I was so hyped when I got the first down,” Padgett said.

Phillips was held to no gain, but the Clippers used up their final timeout and Padgett twice took a knee to make it official.

At 8:55 p.m., the final horn sounded and the Rangers were able to celebrate their breakthrough 12-8 victory.

Greely celebrates at the final horn.

“Yarmouth was undefeated, so this means a lot that we came out here and played our best football,” Piper said. “It was a special night, for the seniors especially.”

“It’s crazy, my adrenaline is pumping,” said Padgett. “We needed a home win and we got it done. This is a complete game-changer for us. We’re in it and we’re going for a Gold Ball. Last year was our rebuilding season and this year, we’re underrated. People sleep on us and it gives us an advantage.”


“They beat us bad last year, so it feels amazing tonight,” Van Pembrook said. “For our second year of football to beat an undefeated team is big. It shows new Greely football and it shows we’re here.”

“It’s awesome,” King added. “I love these guys. To grind it out, especially on Senior Night at home, this group deserves it for sure. It’s a Greely Football win. We get better every single week and that’s all we can ask for. We just played hard-nosed football. We can be really athletic and run spread, or line it up and play tough football. We believe in our guys and what they do. We trusted them to play tough and make plays and that’s what they did. Yarmouth’s a tough ground-and-pound team. We spread our athletes out a little bit and made them chase us around, then we ground it out at the end.”

The Rangers only managed 198 yards of offense and were penalized five times for 46 yards, but they did enough to prevail.

Phillips ran for 88 yards on 18 carries.

Piper had 70 yards and two touchdowns on six attempts.

Padgett didn’t complete a pass, but ran for 38 yards on 10 carries.


Wakeup call

Yarmouth, which has grown accustomed to moving the ball and scoring at will, was stymied Friday, gaining just 124 yards.

McGonagle, one week after running for 503 yards, was held to just 94 (with a TD) on 26 attempts.

“McGonagle’s hurting,” Hartman said. “He got hit on the knee earlier in the game and it swelled up, but he’s a warrior.”

“We looked at their weaknesses and went low on him,” Padgett said. “We gang tackled and stopped him however we could. Our offense was good tonight, but our defense was crazy.”

“Our defense is great,” Van Pembrook said. “I have to give credit to our defensive coordinator, Coach Sven (Jacobson). He’s great. He just told us what we needed to do and we got it done. We take a lot of pride in our defense.”


“Our defense played phenomenal,” King added. “We made a lot of adjustments this week, even in game, and the kids rose to the challenge. They did fantastic.”

MacVane rushed five times for 7 yards.

Bradford went 0-for-6 passing and ran for 65 yards on four carries.

The Clippers turned the ball over once and were penalized seven times for 65 yards.

“It’s a tough loss,” Hartman lamented. “We played extremely well. I’m proud of the boys. I thought we were going to pull it out, but we just didn’t get the ball back. We’ve been there. That’s usually us (running out the clock).

“We had a rough week with injuries. We had to replace three offensive players today. We had to switch things around. No excuses, Greely played a hell of a game. We did a great job defensively and Sam had a good game throwing, but we had three touchdown passes that were dropped or called back. We had stupid penalties we didn’t need to have.”


One more tune-up

Yarmouth is home versus Brunswick (4-2) in a compelling finale next Friday. The Clippers believe they can still earn the top seed in the large school division South region.

“We’ll have to plug some new guys in,” Hartman said. “I hope this is a good wakeup call for us.”

Greely closes at Gray-New Gloucester (1-5) next Friday and hopes to keep rolling.

“We won’t take this win for granted,’ Padgett said. “Gray’s a solid team. We won’t underestimate them. We want to win out and get into the number two spot so we can get a bye and hopefully a home playoff game.”

“We just have to keep our foot on the pedal 100 percent,” said Piper.

“I full-heartedly believe in our team,” Van Pembrook said.

“Hopefully there’s more to come,” King added. “Since week one, we’ve talked about keeping our foot on the gas. We can’t let up or assume we’re better than anybody. We just have to play our game and we’ll be fine.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at For game updates and links to game stories, follow him on Threads: @foresports2023

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