By Jim Churchill
Winning streaks on the line. Conference titles on the line. Postseason hopes on the line. Seasons on the line. All part of this football weekend in Maine.
And speaking of seasons, mother nature obliged with some pretty good November football weather.
Let’s start with the winning streaks. A couple of lengthy ones at the college level for Husson University and the UMaine Black Bears. One lives on for the Eagles, while the other came to a screeching halt in Orono.
Congratulations to Husson football and head coach Gabby Price. The Eagles exercised some revenge on Norwich Saturday at The Wink with a 27-13 victory on Senior Day. Eight straight wins now for the 8-1 Eagles (6-0 inside the ECFC) who clinched the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference title. Coach Price has built something special (again!) at Husson, although the level of competition in the ECFC leaves much to be desired.
About 8 miles to the north at Alfond Stadium it was a disappointing day for UMaine football in more ways than one. Maine’s five game win streak ended with an ugly 29 -7 loss to Villanova at home. Turnovers, penalties, missed field goals and a tired “Black Hole” defense did the Bears in on Saturday afternoon. Credit to the well-coached Wildcats as well.
Almost as disappointing as the score for Maine was the turnout in the Alfond Stadium stands. The official attendance listed at 6,790, about 5,200 tickets shy of the 12K goal for one of the biggest games on the UMaine campus in quite some time. What is up with that? I am sure the usual reasons/excuses (hunting season, too cold, etc.) are on the way. The Black Bears are still in control of their postseason hopes to some extent. If they beat Stony Brook on the road this coming Saturday, Black Bear fans will get another shot at “showing up” on November 19th when archrival UNH comes to Orono.
On to the “seasons on the line” and the high school football playoffs. Some great atmospheres under the Friday night lights this weekend, but some mixed results when it comes to the competiveness of the games. We’ll focus on the North and out of 8 semifinal games on Friday there were 4 blowouts, one relatively close game and 3 games that were up for grabs until the final moments.
The Cony at Brewer matchup at Doyle Field on Friday night was not only competitive, but had to be one of the most entertaining games of the season. Brewer’s size and powerful running game up was up against the wide open air attack of the Rams. The Witches won the shootout 44 – 34, but Cony left the field with their heads held high after coming up just short in securing their second straight postseason upset.
I do have my concerns when it comes to high school football in Maine, including the blowouts we see in the regular season and in the playoffs. Lopsided scores are nothing new, but just because we are used to them doesn’t make it good for the sport.
So a mixed bag on this football weekend in Maine – some highs, some lows, some good and some bad. There are two more full football weekends left in our great state and questions to be answered. Can UMaine pull it together, win out and make it to the FCS playoffs? How far will the wave the Eagles are riding take Husson? Will the favorites in Portland, Brunswick, Winslow (sorry MDI) and MCI prevail in the North and get a shot at the gold ball?
We’ll soon find out.
Jim Churchill is the host of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.