HEBRON — After Winthrop High School and Monmouth Academy decided to merge their football programs, a team meeting was set to get the cooperative effort off the ground.

The programs weren’t just merging football players, they were merging identities, a dicey proposition for two schools that were still heated rivals in other sports.

Before the club team from Monmouth and the tradition-rich varsity team from Winthrop combined on the field, a number of issues needed to be addressed, including what the consolidated team would call itself. When head coach Joel Stoneton broached the topic, an unlikely person stepped forward and made it clear how much Monmouth’s club team was ready to embrace its new identity.

“We don’t really care what we’re called,” senior Brandon Goff announced in front of the team. “We just want to play football.”

“Brandon is a pretty soft-spoken kid,”  Stoneton said. “When he spoke, it spoke volumes.”

The team kept Winthrop’s nickname, Ramblers, and colors.

Advertisement

Goff will still be representing the Ramblers (along with teammate Zach Glazier) in Saturday’s Lobster Bowl, but he’s also proud to be the first Monmouth Academy student to play in the game and excited to be sharing the distinction with the old Mustang gang.

“The coaches I had at Monmouth are really excited because they haven’t had anyone go,” Goff said.

Goff may consider himself a product of his Monmouth roots but he acknowledges that playing his senior year for the Winthrop/Monmouth team opened up a number of new opportunities.

The exposure playing for the Ramblers, who went unbeaten during the Class D West regular season, led him to Saint Anselm College, a Division II school in Goffstown, N.H., where he plans to continue his education and his football career.

“I think it definitely helped out because we were exposed to more college coaches that went to the games,” said Goff, who plans to study biology. “(At Monmouth), we were playing JV teams as a club team, so it’s not like we were out there (on college coaches’ radar) that much.”

The merger also led him to the 25th Annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic (6 p.m. Saturday, Waterhouse Field in Biddeford), an event Goff admitted he hadn’t heard or thought much about before getting the call to play safety for the West squad earlier this year.

Advertisement

This time last year, Goff was preparing for the transition to a new team and a new position.

“It was tense at first, but it really wasn’t that bad once everyone felt each other out within the first couple of days and we gelled,” he said.

Goff enjoyed the transition from tight end in Monmouth’s double-wing offense to wide receiver for the Ramblers’ spread offense.

It took a couple of weeks to develop a rapport, but he ended up being one of quarterback Jared Hanson’s favorite targets even though it was their first year playing together.

Despite his unassuming nature, Goff adjusted quickly to the speed and more physical nature of varsity football and led the secondary on the stingiest defense in Class D West.

“I think people get a little fooled by that until they see him play,” Stoneton said. “He was kind of our silent leader, but he was always out there picking people up and giving the team a lift when we needed it. A lot of our success last year was because of him.”

Advertisement

The Ramblers went 8-0 in the regular season, but their inaugural campaign ended in shocking fashion, with a semifinal loss to Dirigo.

Despite the ending, Goff said he couldn’t have been happier with how his one and only season of varsity football unfolded.

 “It’s been a great experience, probably one of the best high school experience I’ve had in sports,” said Goff, who also starred for Monmouth’s basketball and baseball teams this past school year. “It was awesome for our senior year to combine with Winthrop and have a powerhouse team. We made the playoffs, which was great, especially for a combining team. We gelled so well.”

This week Goff is gelling with his new West teammates, including players from Campbell Conference rivals such as Lisbon, Oak Hill and Maranacook.

“We’ve been pounding the crap out of each other, but now it’s weird playing with each other,” he said.

Goff will be playing safety on Saturday, which means he should be in the middle of the action. The Lobster Bowl has evolved with high school football in Maine and become a showcase of high-powered passing talent, which puts pressure on the secondary.

“We’re going to have to be flying around. It’s like a track meet,” he said. “There are some good quarterbacks and receivers, so we’ve got to be on our toes.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. 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.