The defense Fryeburg Academy had prepared for Friday’s season-opener looked like most of the defenses Lisbon faced last season.
The first time their offense broke the huddle, the Greyhounds saw 10 Raider defenders in the box lined up across from them.
Last season, the Greyhounds had little choice but to send QB Lucas Francis or one of his running mates into that wall of defenders and hope for the best. This year, though, coach Chris Kates is looking for a little more balance on offense.
“We obviously want to run the ball effectively,” Kates said, “but as a former quarterback, I want us to throw the ball. And I think we have the athletes this year to be successful throwing the ball.”
The Greyhounds showed more balance in their 36-14 win at Fryeburg, which was a Class C South semifinalist last year. Francis completed 9 of 14 passes for 117 yards, including a touchdown on a 49-yard bomb to speedster Robbie Dick (three catches, 66 yards).
The running game more than held up its end of the bargain. Running back Isaiah Thompson had three touchdowns while collecting 132 yards on the ground. His scoring runs came from 21, 36 and 50 yards
“I think he had a great game,” Kates said of Thompson. “He’s running a lot more physical and he’s seeing his blocks better than last year.”
Lisbon jumped out to a 16-0 halftime lead and was up 22-0 in the third quarter when Fryeburg scored 14 unanswered points to make things interesting heading to the fourth. The Greyhounds pulled away again on Thompson’s third touchdown and a Francis QB keeper for six.
Led by the defensive line of Thompson, Hunter Job (interception) Kane Strout and Alan Lavoie, the Greyhounds’ defense was stout, allowing just one touchdown. Fryeburg’s other scored came on a fumble recovery scoop-and-score.
Linebacker Connor Houle had two interceptions, while defensive tackle Hunter Job also had a pick on the play preceding Francis’ TD pass to Dick.
“We flowed to the ball pretty well, maintained our assignments and responsibilities and kind of stayed within ourselves,” Kates said.
The Greyhounds open their home schedule on Saturday with Mountain Valley. Thanks to his team’s early start time in Fryeburg (4:30), Kates was able drive to Rumford to catch the Falcons in action for part of their 35-0 win over Poland.
“I think it will be similar to last year (a 22-20 Lisbon win in Rumford) — a hard hitting game right down to the wire,” Kates said.
Edward Little lost its starting quarterback and running back to graduation this past spring.
Grant Hartley was their quarterback, leaving massive shoes to fill. Hartley was one of the top quarterbacks in the Class A North a year ago and earned the Varsity Maine male athlete of the year award in part because of his prowess on the gridiron.
Caden Begos was the workhorse of the Eddies’ offense all season, powering over runners with force to turn himself into one of the top backs in the conference.
Edward Little head coach Dave Sterling had some decisions to make this fall as to who he would place in his two biggest positions. So he turned to two wide receivers, Leighton Girardin and Josh Kaiser.
Playing together since fifth grade, Girardin and Kaiser have built up a solid chemistry that is sure to help them this season ease into their roles. Kaiser can out-pace defenders and also finds contact, while Girardin’s mobile playing-style reminds his running back of a certain Heisman trophy winner.
“He reminds me of Johnny Manziel running around in the pocket,” Kaiser said. “It makes me a little nervous but he’s a good quarterback and I look forward to playing the rest of the season with him.”
The two combined for over 330 yards total yards on Friday in a 35-6 win over Bangor and scored all five touchdowns.
“I was just going in looking for a win,” Kaiser said after his first game at running back. “We watch film. We practice hard. I trusted my line for the hole to be there and it was. Honestly, I was just looking for green grass. All you have to do is run the rock and get in the end zone.”
NOT A PASSING ISSUE
Leavitt’s Camden Jordan gets taken down by MCI’s Andrew Whitaker during Friday night’s football game in Turner, as Tyler Staples, Kempton Roy, Isaac Bussell, Elijah Bagley and Dominic Wilson from MCI position themselves to assist with the play. Leavitt’s Trevor Lafrance comes in to the action on the left. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)