POLAND — There's been a few could have been's and what if's this fall for the Poland football team.
Starting the year 0-4, the Knights have had plenty of near-misses and disappointments.
But there was no doubt about Friday's result and no heartbreak either. It was a good night for the Knights as Poland earned its first win of the season with a 47-8 win over Sacopee Valley.
"It means a lot to us," said senior quarterback Tony Whalen. "It gets a win under our belts. It's gives us something to be happy about. It's something positive and gives us enthusiasm to hit our locker room with."
Poland (1-4) lost to Winslow by a point on opening night. The Knights also came up short against Dirigo and Old Orchard Beach. All three were wins Poland could have had.
"It's nice to finally see something click," said Poland coach Ted Tibbetts. "It's been a frustrating beginning. I've never seen them work as hard in the offseason. They were here all summer and all winter. We had high expectations.
"Then we lost to Winslow by a point. We dropped the Dirigo game. It's been a frustrating season. So it's nice to get the win."
Poland dominated with its running game against an inexperienced winless Sacopee team. The Knights outgained the Hawks 393-101 on the ground. Whalen led the way with four touchdowns and 160 yards rushing on nine carries. Tyler Sturtevant scored two touchdowns and rushed for 173 yards on 13 carries.
"All week our line has blocked downfield and blocked downfield," said Whalen, who also had two interceptions. "That's what we come in wanting to do. It was technique and a pad level lower and really just sticking it to them."
The Knights gained 322 yards in the first half while holding the Hawks to just 12 total yards and one first down. Poland was up 34-0 by halftime.
"We focused on the breakdowns we had against Old Orchard Beach — like the touchdown passes over our head," said Tibbetts. "Those were big things we emphasized all week. We don't have to play great defense. We just can't make mistakes. That what we kept emphasizing all week and hopefully it's resonating at some point."
Poland scored on its first two possessions. Sturtevant took one 57 yards to make it 7-0 with 8:38 left in the first quarter. Then Whalen rushed it in from the 28 with 5:27 left. It would be the first of his four straight touchdowns.
He scored on a 16-yard run with 22 seconds left in the first. He made it 28-0 with a 64-yard run just two minutes into the second quarter. Then his 17-yard run with 2:15 left made it 34-0 at the half.
Quite often, when Whalen or Sturtevant broke one for long yardage, they had fellow Knights ahead or around them blocking.
"We emphasize that," said Tibbetts. "Our line has to get downfield and block. As an option team, we're going to read the defensive line and try to get downfield. The hustle and the work ethic these guys put into it really pays off."
Sturtevant ran one in from the 40 late in the third. Then Everett Bertrand scored on a 22-yard run to make it 47-0 in the fourth.
Sacopee Valley (0-5) got its lone score with 4:18 left in the fourth. Isaac Moore broke one down the left sideline for 59 yards.