DIXFIELD — When teams from the River Valley area face off on the field, there’s always a heightened sense of competition. Friday, for the first time, the Dirigo and Mountain Valley football teams collided in a meaningful contest.
And that atmosphere did not disappoint.
Alex Gorham rushed for two touchdowns in the first half and the Dirigo defense bent but didn’t break, executing multiple stops to help the Cougars come away with a 13- 0 win over the visiting Falcons at Harlow Park.
Mountain Valley was realigned to Class D this season, which set-up the inaugural game between rivals. It was the Cougars, Class D regulars, who proved to be well prepared Friday, fighting through adversity after senior quarterback Luke Lueders suffered a dislocated elbow when struggling for extra yardage in the second quarter.
In stepped Gorham, who took over under center and, two plays later, followed Dalton Berry and Quentin Penley on the right side for a 1-yard TD. The try for the extra point sailed wide right, but Dirigo led by double digits, with 10:21 remaining in the first half.
“Those were my first snaps this season at quarterback,” Gorham said. “We had entered the game with plenty of confidence and we started fast. The defense played great, but when Luke went down, we needed to regroup.”
The Dirigo defense had bottled up the Falcons’ offense on the first two possessions of the first quarter. This changed immediately following the second score, as Mountain Valley drove from its own 33 to red zone. Jasper Turner (52 yards on nine carries) and Avery Bradeen (45 yards on six carries) earned six first downs.
“Our game plan was to keep it on the ground and control the clock,” Mountain Valley coach Pat Mooney said. “But, we laid an egg tonight and we certainly didn’t want to do it in a game like this.”
The Dirigo defense had five takeaways. Jon Wainwright, Cam Turner, Cam Kidder and Dalton Berry each recovered fumbles. Turner intercepted a pass and Jack Lavogna had eight tackles and 2 sacks. Freshman Dallas Berry had seven tackles. The Cougars were not fooled by the Falcons’ misdirection plays.
“That wasn’t the case,” Mooney said, referring to the numerous moving offensive parts. “We have sophomores back there who played JV last year. This is the second year that we’ve run this offense, so they should be better at it. It will come.”
Dirigo pulled together on its second possession and marched 78 yards in seven plays, with Gorham scoring from four yards. Cooper Chiasson was a workhorse, gaining 77 yards on 26 carries. Chiasson kicked the PAT.
“‘This is the biggest win for our school and it came in a big game against a rival,” Chiasson said. “Our defensive line and linebackers were ready for them.”
Falcons linebacker Ian Brennick and the defense held the Dirigo offense to 131 total yards.
“We entered from day one going over thee plays and the kids know what to do,” Dirigo coach Jim Hersom said. “When Luke went out, we needed to simplify the offense for Alex. We’ll put in a new package for him.”