WALES — The more Oak Hill runs the football, and the more opposing defenses load up against that tendency, the bigger Luke Washburn’s eyes get.

Which pretty much makes them proportionate to the rest of him. If Poland or any other Western Class C team is going to dismiss a 6-foot-3, 230-pound junior with reliable hands as little more than a lead blocker, they’re doing so at their peril.

“I was pumped because I knew they were pretty good against the run,” Washburn said. “They send the house. I knew it was going to come to me, and it was fun to go out there and do it.”

Washburn grabbed five passes for 85 yards Saturday, including two touchdowns, rocketing the Raiders to a 28-7 victory over the Knights.

Kyle Flaherty and Aaron Clark each added a short touchdown run for Oak Hill (5-1). Poland limited the Raiders’ potent running game to just over three yards per carry, but the combination of Parker Asselin (6-for-14, 90 yards) and Washburn struck gold in the red zone.

“They were stuffing the run. We went from the run game to the pass a little bit. I thought we had people open but didn’t connect early, and then as the game went on we began connecting,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said. “Luke did a wonderful job. He has physical stature and tremendous strength, and he and Parker are best friends. They’ve got a connection.”

Washburn’s five tackles also played a pivotal role for the Raiders’ defense, which limited Poland to 68 total yards.

The Knights notched minus-3 net yards and zero first downs in the second half and moved the chains only four times prior to that.

“They did a good job. They played aggressive,” Poland coach Ted Tibbetts said. “We need to work on how we respond when teams take things away from us. We had guys wide open a couple of times and dropped the ball. We had a huge gain for a first down and got called for a block in the back.”

And turnovers — a problem in Poland’s two close-but-not-enough seasons in Class C — struck again. Alex Mace, Joel Wells and Chris Harlow intercepted passes for the Raiders. Flaherty forced a second-half fumble into the hands of teammate Mike Saunders.

Oak Hill sacked Poland quarterback Whalen four times, with a hat trick by Brandon Potvin.

“We did a good job playing assignment defense. We practiced all week against the triple option, and as the game went on, especially in the second half, we defended it better,” Doucette said.

The Raiders took advantage of a snap over the head of Poland punter Adam Mocciola and his subsequent 19-yard boot to win the battle for first-quarter field position.

Seven consecutive runs, capped by Flaherty’s 5-yarder, gave Oak Hill a 6-0 lead.

Wells’ interception and 25-yard return put the Raiders in business at the Poland 6 with two minutes to go in the half. The Knights squelched three straight runs before Asselin’s jump pass found Washburn’s outstretched mitts in the end zone.

“The past five games we’ve run the ball, run the ball, run the ball,” Asselin said. “Teams see that and it opens up the passing game. (Washburn) goes and gets the ball.”

Mace rushed for the two-point conversion and a 14-0 halftime lead.

Back-to-back strikes of 20 and 18 yards from Averill to Washburn produced the Raiders’ third TD with 4:51 remaining in the third.

Poland (1-5) scored its only points on the ensuing kickoff, an 85-yard runback by Tyler Sturtevant.

Five Western C teams currently share the top spot in the standings with five wins. The Knights have played four of them — Winslow, Dirigo, Old Orchard Beach and Oak Hill.

“I like our schedule. The only way for us to get where we want to be is playing teams like this,” Tibbetts said. “That was the best our defense has played.”

Mace (61 yards) and Flaherty (53) led the Raiders on the ground.

Whalen collected a huge chunk of Poland’s offense with a 28-yard scamper early in the second quarter. That gave the Knights first-and-goal, but Wells and Potvin converged to stuff Nick Cote on fourth down from the 4.

“Through the week we were working on all the different things we’ve seen them do,” Washburn said. “We knew their quarterback is a really good player and that most of their plays revolve around him, so we were ready for it.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: