Nov. 1—Portland High's football team completed its undefeated regular season with an impressive 34-6 win Tuesday night against rival South Portland.
Playing a varsity game on Tuesday night is strange enough. But when the Bulldogs (8-0), ranked No. 1 in Class A North, got to practice on Wednesday, they still weren't sure who would be their semifinal opponent or even when the game would be played.
Portland had to wait on the outcome of Wednesday night's Edward Little at Lewiston game, a game delayed five days because of school closings across much of Maine late last week in the aftermath of the Lewiston shootings on Oct. 25.
The Bulldogs will play Lewiston, which overtook Bangor for the No. 4 seed by defeating Edward Little, 34-18.
"Either way, we have to go out and execute," Coach Sean Green said Wednesday morning. "We're obviously scouting both teams in advance to make sure we're as prepared as possible."
Green said he thinks his team is used to having its schedule and routine changed on the fly.
Like most teams in southern Maine, Portland dealt with the Friday night lightning storm in Week 2, playing only one half against Edward Little. Two weeks later, the Bulldogs got an unwanted week off when Falmouth forfeited because of a lack of players. In Week 6, its game with Noble moved from Friday to Saturday. Week 8 had a built-in bye in the schedule, something Green said he didn't want.
"Maybe that's an advantage now with every team in that situation. This year, it's actually normal to not be normal," Green said.
THE ONLY FOOTBALL playoff game on Friday is in Class C South, where No. 3 Cheverus (6-2) is at No. 2 Fryeburg Academy (7-1) at 6 p.m. Those teams, along with No. 1 Leavitt (8-0), received first-round byes in the five-team division — meaning they did not have their schedule disrupted.
Leavitt will host No. 4 Cape Elizabeth (3-6) at 5 p.m. Saturday. Cape beat York on Monday night to advance.
Saturday's schedule includes eight-man regional finals, and semifinals in Class B North, Class C and Class D.
Kennebunk (7-1), the top seed in Class B South, had a bye out of the regional quarterfinal round and wanted to play at 1 p.m. Saturday. But No. 4 Westbrook (4-5) made it clear it needed more time to recover from Tuesday night's 30-22 quarterfinal win against Deering, according to Kennebunk Athletic Director Joe Schwartzman. The Westbrook at Kennebunk game will be played at 6 p.m. Monday.
The other B South semifinal, No. 4 Marshwood (5-4) at No. 2 Massabesic (4-4), will also be at 6 p.m. Monday.
Also on Monday, No. 3 Windham (5-4) will be at No. 2 Oxford Hills (7-2) at 6 p.m. in a Class A North semifinal, and No. 3 Bonny Eagle (6-3) will be at No. 2 Noble (6-3) at 7 p.m. in an A South semifinal.
Monday's game time for the other Class A South semifinal — No. 4 Sanford (4-4-1) at No. 1 Thornton Academy (5-4) — will be set Thursday morning, said Thornton AD Gary Stevens. Sanford passed South Portland in the standings with its 21-20 win Tuesday against Noble, combined with South Portland's loss to Portland.
EIGHT-MAN FOOTBALL teams Old Orchard Beach and Greely chose to host regional finals on Saturday after winning Tuesday.
Old Orchard (9-0) continued to roll with a 68-0 win against Sacopee Valley. The defending Small School state champion has outscored its opponents 458-32 and will host No. 3 Maranacook (6-2) in the South final at 1 p.m. In their Week 6 meeting, Maranacook became the first team to score against the Gulls and actually led after one quarter before OOB pulled away for a 66-19 victory.
"I think kids are routine driven and so are coaches," said OOB Coach Dean Plante. "We had the (disruption) in routine this week. Why prolong it for three weeks? And, if we're fortunate enough to win, we would have a full week to prepare for a Northern team we haven't seen in the state final."
No. 3 Stearns (7-2) is at No. 1 Orono (8-0) in the North Small final at 7 p.m. Saturday.
No. 2 Greely (5-3) will host No. 4 Brunswick (6-3) at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Large South final. It will be Greely's first regional final. The Rangers beat Mt. Ararat on Tuesday, 38-0. Brunswick has had an extra day of rest, having beaten top-seeded defending state champion Yarmouth 48-46 on Monday. Brunswick won the regular-season meeting against Greely with a late goal-line stand, 42-38.
"I wanted to play Saturday," said Greely Coach Caleb King. "I would rather get back to what would be as normal a week as possible as quickly as we could."
The Large North final is No. 3 Mt. Desert Island (7-1) at No. 1 Camden Hills (8-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday. Camden Hills won the regular-season matchup, 28-16.
THREE OTHER GAMES on Saturday involve southern Maine teams.
In C North, No. 2 Medomak Valley (6-2), the defending regional champion, hosts No. 3 Hermon (6-3) at 1 p.m. Then the fans at that game can drive east to Rockland to see No. 1 Oceanside (8-0) host No. 5 Nokomis (4-5) at 6 p.m.
In Class D South, No. 1 Wells (5-3) will host No. 5 Freeport (3-6) at 1 p.m.