One of those maxims, after all, is that “you win with seniors” in high school sports. And if that were explicitly true, the Greyhounds might be in trouble.

Only two seniors who suited up for Lisbon a year ago — tailback Shawn Grover and receiver and free safety Henry Adams — are on the roster.

“We don’t have much coming back. We’re a small team this year, smaller than usual,” Lisbon coach Dick Mynahan said. “Our small senior class has kind of hurt the program right through. We have two seniors back, one senior first-year player coming out, so we lack that leadership up top.”

Yet, lo and behold, Lisbon looked like gangbusters in its summer 7-on-7 schedule. Based on those results and the Greyhounds’ championship tradition under Mynahan, rival coaches rate the Greyhounds right there with Oak Hill, Winthrop/Monmouth, Maranacook and Dirigo in what promises to be a grueling Class D South race.

With good reason, too. Quarterback Tyler Halls and 230-pound workhorse back Noah Francis, both juniors, join Grover in a starting backfield that returns intact from a 7-6 loss to Oak Hill in last year’s regional title game.

“The younger kids have really stepped up,” Grover said. “We’ve played with them all through middle school and high school, so we don’t look at them any differently.”


Grover and Adams say they never played the recruiting game, combing the hallways of their school in pursuit of classmates to strengthen their numbers.

For whatever reason, it’s a group of students that never gravitated to the grueling, consuming game.

“It’s mostly been me and Shawn since middle school,” Adams said. “We’re kind of used to it. Our junior class is pretty big, so we look to them for help with leadership and all that.”

And they delivered, specifically Halls, Francis and guard/linebacker Tanton Mattson. Three-fifths of Lisbon’s captain corps will be juniors this season.

“When the time comes, we’ve got to step up,” Francis said. “We’ve been trying to play like seniors for two years now.”

Shouldering an advanced and unfamiliar role comes naturally to the Lisbon juniors, as evidenced by Halls’ embrace of the quarterback position late last season.


Halls emerged as one of Kyle Bourget’s favorite targets during his freshman and sophomore seasons. He also was the emergency quarterback, and when Bourget’s season ended due to a torn ACL during the second quarter of a semifinal win over Old Orchard Beach, Halls moved from heir apparent to man in the spotlight.

“I hate to put him there, because he’s such a good receiver, but I don’t think we could get him the ball (otherwise),” Mynahan said. “He went back there in the playoffs having not taken a snap all year and handled it well. He’s going to be a good guy for us there. He’ll make good decisions.”

Relying heavily on Francis and Grover running behind an experienced line and a punishing defense, Lisbon earned the No. 1 seed in the 2014 playoffs.

The latter areas will be works in progress this season. Mattson is the lone returning starter on the line.

“We have a lot of new linemen, but they’re big and they’re very teachable,” Mattson said. “I like leading the guys. I know what I’m doing, and I know how to help them get better and progress.”

It’s not a new drill at Lisbon, where Mynahan has dealt with injury and eligibility issues to start seasons in the past.


“We’re going to have a rough start to the season because of the line,” the coach said. “It’s the same deal as it used to be here. I have a pretty good fullback, Jared Glover, who’s going to start at guard for me. Once we get going, it’s going to be a number of the kids learning two positions.”

Mynahan called it a “building season, obviously,” which is significant because he didn’t use the word “rebuilding.”

Coaches are prone to keep expectations at a dull roar. Lisbon players are more outwardly optimistic.

“I think we’ll be strong this year,” Halls said. “I’m not worried.”

“We’re looking to gradually get better as the season goes along, so by the time playoffs come around we’re at our best,” Adams added.

“Every practice and game we’re kind of looking at equally until playoffs,” Grover concluded. “It’s just a matter of getting better and learning what we can do.”

Spoken like true captains, at any age.

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