WALES — Do the math and you’ll understand why Maine high school football isn’t a game of great individual numbers.

The regular season consists of eight or nine games. Most players don’t see the field until their sophomore year or even dream of starting until they’re juniors.

Putting yourself in a 3,000-yard club is unlikely as scoring 2,000 points in basketball or 100 goals in hockey. It almost never happens.

Amazing, then, that Oak Hill enters its Class D state title defense with two players who already are there, without even taking the first snap of their senior season.

Tailback Kyle Flaherty, the workhorse of a 42-35 victory over Bucksport in the 2013 final, has exceeded 3,000 rushing yards for his career. Add up slot back Alex Mace’s rushing and receiving yards and he already has smashed the milestone, too.

“We play as a team, but I think Alex and Kyle stick out,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said. “They’re both going to be four-year starters. We’re pretty happy with that.”


Oak Hill has six four-year varsity contributors and 11 seniors in all, fueling thoughts of a title defense.

Just don’t speak those words too loudly around the Raiders’ camp, where humility and flying under the radar worked wonders an autumn ago.

“We try to forget about last year and know that we can’t look by anybody. It’s a whole different season,” Flaherty said. “A lot of teams probably have a chip on their shoulder.”

In addition to the requisite weight room and summer commitments, Flaherty and Mace have attempted to step up their game as vocal leaders.

Get to know them a little bit and you’ll understand that opponents resolving to tackle them more quickly and frequently might be an easier task. The two backs had the advantage as juniors of being in the same huddle as four-year starting quarterback Parker Asselin and Gaziano Award-winning lineman Luke Washburn, neither of whom had any problem preaching the gridiron gospel.

“It’s hard to get us to talk. They were all big talkers last year,” Mace said. “Me and Kyle both had to step up a lot. We lost Parker and Luke, our biggest playmakers, and the other seniors as well. We kind of had to step up and try to fill their role and give speeches like they did last year.”


They’ll receive plenty of help in the rah-rah department from middle linebacker Samson Lacroix and guard Mikey Pease, both seniors.

“Samson’s the talker. Mikey is a talker. The others are all silent leaders,” Doucette said. “Alex and Kyle, you probably wouldn’t hear them if you were in a room with them, but you hear them working. You hear them running. Your hear them blocking. They lead by example. They’re great athletes.”

Oak Hill is prepared for an even more brutal Class D West schedule than 2013, when the Raiders suffered back-to-back frustrating midseason losses to Winthrop/Monmouth and Old Orchard Beach before rattling off seven consecutive victories and raising the program’s first Gold Ball since 1982.

The same teams are expected to be in the mix, with most losing key players and some breaking in a new coach.

You won’t find any with as much experience or yardage in the backfield’s bank, though.

“I think every team in our conference has gotten better, including us, I think,” Flaherty said. “We’ve even improved our game.”

Wow, that’s almost a bold statement by Oak Hill’s measured standards.

Mace quickly brought the hand closer to the vest. “We try to put (the state championship) in our past,” he said. “We want to play like the underdogs every game.”

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