LISBON FALLS – It seems highly unlikely that its offense would ever get dubbed “Air Mynahan.”

The longtime Lisbon football coach admits he doesn’t really like to throw the ball.

He’d rather put the pigskin in the hands of a sure-handed runner any day and let his army of blockers lead the way, challenging the defense to stop them. He’s had a pretty good track record doing just that with the Greyhounds over the years.

Still, Mynahan isn’t afraid to go to the air if needed, and he’s usually got his team prepared for such a purpose. Saturday, Lisbon assumed a passing attack would come in handy against Livermore Falls, and the Greyhounds’ air delivery was ready when called upon in their 23-6 win.

“We pass every day at practice, Monday through Thursday,” said Mynahan. “That’s probably one of the biggest parts of our practice schedule. The problem is I don’t like to throw a pass, but we’ve known all along that if the passes are there, we’ll take it.”

Lisbon entered Saturday’s Western C championship game assuming its passing game wouldn’t be a luxury but a necessity.

As the Greyhounds struggled to move the ball on the ground, it was obvious Lisbon was going to have to come up with another option.

“We knew we were definitely going to pass,” said quarterback Mike Unterkoefler. “They’re a bigger team. To open up the running game, we knew we were going to have to lay the ball up a little bit.”

The passing attack sparked a second quarter comeback that turned a 6-0 deficit into a 15-6 lead at the half.

“We didn’t have a lot of fire to start the game,” said receiver Zach Bubar. “Then we got that spark.”

On Lisbon’s first three possessions, the Greyhounds managed just 23 total yards and one first down, which came off a fumble on a broken play. Unterkoefler’s two passes were knocked down by the Andies charging defensive line.

“We had to find something that would work,” said Bubar. “We have a good coaching staff. We had to mix up the plays and find a gap in their defense.”

As if the slow start offensively wasn’t disconcerting enough, Lisbon watched Livermore Falls march down the field on 12 plays and score on a Mark O’Shea one-yard plunge with 8:34 left in the half.

“It gave us a spark early when they got that touchdown,” said Unterkoefler, who had at least one TD pass in seven of nine regular season games. “We knew what we had to do. We’ve been doing it all year.”

Lisbon wasted little time in responding. Though the first pass fell incomplete at their own 23, Unterkoefler connected with Dan Willis on a 14-yard gain. Then he hit Bubar for 29 yards.

Suddenly the stagnant Lisbon offense came to life. A 16-yard pass to Joe Stevens set the Greyhounds up at the 17 where Willis took it in for a 7-6 lead.

“They didn’t miss,” said Livermore coach Brad Bishop. “It was a good drive for them, and it kind of took the starch out of our sails.”

Though Lisbon couldn’t cash in on an Andies’ fumble on the subsequent kickoff, the Greyhounds made good late in the half. The big play in the 68-yard drive was a 34-yard pass to Bubar. Three plays later Unterkoefler hit Stevens on a seven-yard scoring pass for the 15-6 advantage.

It was a change in the blocking that neutralized the bothersome pass rush and gave Unterkoefler more time.

“They have two standout defensive ends,” said Mynahan. “They’re both very tall, and they were coming through and getting their hands up and knocking the ball down. What we tried to do is hit them more on the line. We had our fullbacks going there instead of waiting. We tried to be a little more aggressive in our pass blocking and give Mike a little more time back there.”

Mynahan says that the Andies defensive line was so strong, Lisbon had to find a way to get behind them. The passing game spread out that defense and forced them to move a bit more. It helped open up the running attack and ultimately wear out the Andies. Lisbon threw for 107 yards in the first half on six completions.

“Last week they didn’t throw it as well, and against us the first game, they didn’t throw it as well,” said Bishop. “The kid was on. Give him credit. They made the plays.”


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