Lee: Put that Oxford Hills win over Portland into context for me.
I know it’s only the first game of the season, but it seems like a massive feat to me. From what I understand, the Vikings don’t have the most illustrious football history (though I do see there was a state championship game appearance in 1999). And Portland has owned Class A North the past two seasons.
Now it seems like A North might be real interesting this year.
Randy: That 1999 state championship game against South Portland was the first I covered for the Sun Journal. The Patriots were still an afterthought in the NFL. Y2K was a thing. The Yankees were the only ones cheating in the AL East. So yeah, it’s been a long time since the Vikings have been a serious title contender.
Does the win over Portland make them that? Not on its own. The Bulldogs are still trying to figure some things out, including their quarterback situation. They still have some playmakers, but it was clear the Vikings have more. It wasn’t just the Dawson Stevens Show in their 20-14 win. It was guys like J.J. Worster and Emerson Brown and Cam Slicer and Alex Brown stepping up when called upon, too.
Given all of the mistakes they made with penalties and turnovers, the Vikings have every reason to believe they could have beaten Portland by more than a touchdown. A year ago, they would have settled for a close game.
Consider that since the Vikings and Bulldogs started playing together in Class A North starting in 2012, Portland has won every game, starting with a 68-0 stomping in 2013, 41-0, 36-7 and, in last year’s A North semifinals, 55-7. The only game that wasn’t decided my four touchdowns or more was 2014, when the Bulldogs won 14-7. Portland was 5-3 that year, Oxford Hills 4-4.
Last Saturday night erased a lot of the self-doubt that those kind of scores can inject into a program. And the Vikings are going to need all of the confidence they can muster with a schedule that not only includes some big A North showdowns but two tough crossover games with Scarborough and Thornton Academy.
Edward Little has had more success than Oxford Hills since 1999, but a win over Portland on Friday night would be just as big for the Red Eddies’ psyche as it should be for the Vikings.
Lee: At the end of that 55-7 loss to Portland in the playoffs, Oxford Hills put the likes of Emerson Brown and Cam Slicer into the game. Sure, it was against Portland’s second-team, but I was impressed by those young Vikes. Also impressive was this: Several times in the spring, during the track and field season, I was told how much time the Oxford Hills football team was spending in the weight room. So the Vikings have already put months of preparation into this season.
What other teams impressed you with their results in week one? Anyone blow your mind? The winners of most games weren’t surprising, but some of the scores made me raise an eyebrow.
Randy: Dirigo shutting out Mountain Valley got a lot of eyebrows going. Lisbon’s dominance of Bucksport was a little shocking. Sadly, I didn’t find the EL-Bangor score shocking. Sadly because Bangor being a non-factor in A North kind of stinks. The Eddies needn’t have any sympathy for the Rams, though.
I love the fact that the most lopsided scores in Week 1 were in A South, incidentally. That will be the least balanced league in the state.
Lee: Don’t forget Lewiston. I thought the Blue Devils would win, but didn’t expect them to thoroughly dominate South Portland. Again, it’s only one game, but Lewiston seems a lot more sure of itself than it was at this point last season.