LIVERMORE FALLS – Five times last Friday night, Mark O’Shea wrapped his hands around a football and made his direct route to the end zone look as easy as if some kid were playing a video game and navigating him with a joystick.

Thankfully for everyone affiliated with the Livermore Falls High School football team, O’Shea also has wrapped his arms around a concept that will forever elude some of the wealthy skill-position players who are PlayStation or Xbox icons.

O’Shea recognizes that there are probably a hundred individual sporting endeavors in the universe. He also understands that going berserk on the gridiron isn’t one of them.

Every time No. 5 heads to the house for the Andies, it is because one wing man diverted the defense with some drama club-worthy deception and the other delivered a surprisingly crunching block. And because the quarterback put the ball precisely where O’Shea could tuck it into his bread basket and fly. Oh, and let’s not forget five detail-driven linemen and two glory-starved tight ends knocking the daylights out of anything in their path.

“You saw the game the other night,” O’Shea said to a spectator while shaking his head in disbelief at the memory, four days later. “I could have driven a truck through there.”

With that highlight film performance in a 33-12 win over Boothbay behind them, O’Shea and Livermore Falls travel to unbeaten Lisbon this weekend with the Western Class C championship at stake.

The Andies ride an eight-game winning streak and could, if they desired, ride the shoulders of the most accomplished offensive player in the conference. O’Shea has accumulated more than 1,500 yards and 23 touchdowns in a stellar senior season, emerging as one of the leading candidates to claim the John Taglienti Award as Campbell Conference MVP.

All that has fallen into place without O’Shea developing any hint of an ego and without Livermore Falls falling into a one-dimensional trap.

“It’s amazingly different this year,” O’Shea said. “They can’t key on one person at all. We have confidence that our quarterback and all three running backs can move the ball.”

In its current run of four consecutive playoff appearances, Livermore Falls has never lacked a go-to back. O’Shea follows in the cleat marks of Brad Bryant and Ryan Webster as every-down grinders to wear the green-and-gold.

This year, the Andies have tempered their boldness with balance. Kevin Gats’ defection from the soccer team and emergence at quarterback has allowed Mike Nichols to move from quarterback to halfback.

“It’s different,” said Nichols. “I’m not used to looking up and seeing the linebackers that far away.”

Sophomore Kyle Stebbins has emerged as a home run threat on counter and sweep plays, while Nichols spells O’Shea by pounding out 10 to 15 hard, off-tackle runs per game.

Consequently, O’Shea has matched or exceeded the numbers put up by his recent predecessors while giving defenses less to hang their hat upon. Would-be tacklers still know what’s coming from the Andies, mind you. They’re just less likely than ever to stop it.

“When you only run three or four different plays, sometimes it gives the kids a lot more confidence in what they’re running,” said Livermore Falls coach Brad Bishop.

O’Shea and his tag team partners in the backfield garner the points and headlines. Eleven hundred pounds strong, Livermore Falls’ offensive line gets its share of attention, too.

Led by all-conference shoo-in Mike Durrell and Rory Young at tackle, center Craig Jackman and classic pulling guards Dylan Brayley and Donovan Smith, the Andies’ front five gives O’Shea weekly eye candy that resembles the parting of the Red Sea.

On his longest touchdown run against Boothbay, O’Shea covered most of the field while running in Smith’s shadow, with no white jerseys within a 15-yard radius.

“Dylan Brayley and Donovan Smith made some great calls up front in response to what (Boothbay was) running for a defense,” Bishop said.

O’Shea isn’t likely to see as many open lanes against Lisbon, widely acknowledged as both the smallest and quickest defense in the league.

He will take the field with unfinished business on two fronts. Lisbon held O’Shea to a “quiet” 117 yards in the Greyhounds’ 12-7 win on Sept. 1. That was the Andies’ only loss to a Campbell Conference opponent this season.

Two years ago, as a sophomore primarily blocking for Bryant and Webster, O’Shea saw Jay score a last-minute touchdown to win the regional title game and dash his dreams of playing in a state final.

“All three of us started that game,” said O’Shea, flanked by Durrell and Nichols. “We definitely don’t want it to end that way again.”

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