PORTLAND – After his opponent called a desperate timeout in the third quarter, Andy Shorey eyed his target shaking a defender down the right sideline, cocked his right arm behind his head and hit Justin Staires’ outstretched hands with pinpoint accuracy.

Touchdown. Um, I mean uncontested layup. It was business as usual here in the fishbowl of the Class B playoffs here at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Wait, Hosmer Field. No, no, Cumberland County Civic Center.

Forgive me for having trouble making the transition from football to basketball. Never had to do it before because, well, no schoolboy program in my more than half a lifetime of covering state championships has challenged us with the prospect of a Gold Ball in both sports, 105 days and two athletic worlds apart.

Bling, bling.

Meet Mountain Valley High School. At least I hope you did, either on the mud or artificial turf in November or above the ice rink in February and March. They were the best in both atmospheres by a bundle, wiping out Winslow in the football final played down the street last autumn and clipping Camden Hills, 58-48, in Saturday’s basketball summit.

If you’re thinking that must be a rare feat, try unprecedented with an almost invisible asterisk.

We hesitate to use words “only” or “never” in this business out of fear that someone without deadline constraints or many other distractions in life will get his jollies by proving us wrong. But Falcons assistant coach, resident statistician and all-around good guy Rick White believes that no other team has captured Class B football and basketball titles in the same school year. I’ve combed the historical record, and I’ll back him up.

In the post-disco era, which is as much high school sports as I’ll confess to seeing in person, the only school of any enrollment to sweep pigskins and peach baskets was Dexter. The Tigers ruled Class B basketball and Class D football in 1985-86 (and you thought the current classification cutoffs were confusing!)

Don’t blame the young men who made it happen if they’re lost for words among the flashbacks and double vision, themselves.

“It’s just one of those feelings where you can’t put the feelings into words,” said senior point guard D.J. Gerrish, whose dad, Dave, joined the likes of Todd Hanson, Tom Bragg and Heidi Deery on a similarly select list of people who have won basketball state titles as a player and coach.

“It’s a lot for me to think about right now,” said Staires, “because I’m only a sophomore in high school.”

Gerrish kicked extra points and Staires generally knocked the daylights out of people when he wasn’t scoring touchdowns as a runner, receiver and returner for the undefeated football champions.

Shorey was his conference’s player of the year in back-to-back seasons as a quarterback and defensive lineman and as a guaranteed double-double in the frontcourt.

Go ahead, scroll the state championship hoop game program and cross-reference it with the state championship football roster. Matt Lyons, check. Matt Laubauskas, check. Owen Jones, check.

Thirteen boys wore basketball sneakers to match the blue-and-silver uniforms this winter. Twelve of them traded in pads and cleats little more than three months ago. Transition time: One day.

“What does it say about them? It says that they’re tough-minded,” Dave Gerrish said. “They’re strong-willed. They’re good teammates for each other. I guess that’s the best thing I can say about them. Other than the fact that they won the Gold Ball twice.”

While we’re calling the Falcons’ round-trip flight amazing and almost impossible, let’s be sure to label it refreshing.

Specialization has youth sports in a headlock. For too many kids, the concept of being a multi-sport athlete in fall and winter means being an all-conference power forward and playing a mean game of Madden ’07. Somehow, Mountain Valley made the rounds of AAU and summer basketball without losing its gridiron grit or its mind. That’s as much a credit to the parents, teachers and coaches in Rumford, Mexico, Byron and Roxbury as it is the kids.

That grit was a deciding factor Saturday, too. No offense to Camden Hills, but they look like basketball players: Lean, lithe, and clipper-cut. And no offense to Mountain Valley, but some of them don’t: Burly, thick-legged and mop-topped. Staires was the target of taunts from the Windjammers’ student section labeling him fat. He isn’t, of course, unless they meant “phat.”

Whatever five players Mountain Valley shuffled onto the floor Saturday, they were consistently more physical than Camden Hills. Astoundingly, they even looked quicker.

And now they look like champions, which begged one wise guy to ask Shorey, a first baseman who can hit the ball 450 feet with his eyes closed, if he’s thought about a senior year triple crown.

“Oh, don’t even say that,” he begged.

Hey, we’ve already seen that arm turn the tide of two title games. Pitchers and catchers report two weeks from tomorrow, big guy.

Kalle Oakes is a staff writer. His e-mail is [email protected]


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