You don’t need all the benefits of an advanced placement calculus class to figure out high school football. There are basically two ways to win on the schoolboy gridiron: Tradition and seniors.

Arm yourself with one and you’re bound to be in the mix. Put both in your tank and it’s time to start rearranging the trophy case.

Having this basic information to supplement the results of Week 1is a necessary weapon, because, simply put, coaches lie.

They’re good people. They don’t mean to. They really can’t help it. But they manipulate the media like Peyton Manning calling an audible and getting ready to shred an overmatched defense.

Your school’s coach probably did one of two things this summer. He either talked up his team excessively as a way to elevate expectations for a talented but inexperienced group that desperately needed an infusion of confidence. Or he used words such as “young,” “learning,” or even “horrible” to describe his perennial playoff team, intending either to give the beleaguered opposition a false sense of security or create a press clipping that would allow him to pull the Disrespect Card out of his sleeve whenever he needs it.

We, the media, do our part to feed this conspiracy by swallowing the untruths whole. They’re a tempting little confection. Dipped in fact, even. And when we buy second and third opinions from community insiders, we’re oblivious to the fact that they drink the same Kool-Aid.

All summer long, I listened to the talk of Edward Little High School’s junior class losing only one football game since junior high. Rather than apply critical thinking skills, I bought in. So did Whitehouse. And the Red Eddies promptly ended Oxford Hills’ 10-game losing streak in their home opener.

Shortage of seniors. A tradition of ups-and-downs. Should have known.

Listen, I’m still high on the future of this EL group. Look at Lawrence’s progression from 2005 to ’06. I’m expecting the Eddies to pull off an upset or two this season and beat the daylights out of everyone next year. But second place in their division of the Pine Tree Conference right now? Heavens, no.

Then we have the two programs whose ability to dumb down any dude with a tape recorder in his hand makes me want to whack myself over the head with a 2×4: Lisbon and Mountain Valley.

Dick Mynahan is a great coach and a better man, but every year he goes all Lou Holtz on me and sells the same bill of goods about Lisbon. Not enough bodies. Too many guys moving around in search of an offensive line. And didn’t you hear we had to forfeit a scrimmage because of heat exhaustion?

So we write that this is the year the Greyhounds finally come back to the Western Class C pack. And Lisbon takes its show on the road and sends an up-and-comer back to school in its opener.

Seniors or not, that tradition is impossible to stop at the Class C level. Write Lisbon’s name on your playoff flow chart in black Magic Marker.

And oh, those pesky Falcons. Jim Aylward actually told me he had a team of “nice kids,” secure in the knowledge that his quote and a marshmallowy cutout of me would be glued to the circuit training machine in the weight room for the remainder of the season.

Mountain Valley also gave its Western B rivals false hope by projecting the best back in the state, Justin Staires, as a utility man. Would he line up at quarterback, or halfback? Cornerback, safety or linebacker?

Well, how about you just plug him in everywhere, have him score a touchdown about six different ways and win 66-0 in your opener, huh?

No disrespect to anyone, but the day Mountain Valley loses a meaningful football game to Cape Elizabeth is the day the Falcons’ faithful start tailgating with wine and cheese.

I’ll stop believing the lies and start thinking for myself before THAT ever happens.


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