SABATTUS — Mahala Smith is looking for her white No. 1 jersey she wears playing for the Oak Hill High School Raiders football team at home games.

It went missing Saturday after the Class D regional final against the Lisbon High School Greyhounds, and she’d like to wear it Friday night in Orono when the Raiders take the field for the Class D state football championship.

The freshman, who stands 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 120 pounds, is offering $100 for its return. Her original offer was $50, money she took from savings to pay for a driver education course. When Mahala’s beauty pageant director saw the reward posted, she donated another $50 to boost the offer.

Mahala — an offensive wide receiver and defensive cornerback — has worn No. 1 since she started playing football in a recreation league in the sixth grade. And when she joined the Raiders, she got the No. 1 jersey that had been worn by her friend, placekicker Adam Merrill, who graduated last year.

“She’s very attached to her number, as most athletes are. Even professionals,” Mahala’s mother, Stephanie Smith, said.

On Wednesday, Stephanie Smith told the Sun Journal that Mahala had taken her home and away jerseys to Saturday’s game and left the white one in a locker in the girls’ locker room, which was also being used by Lisbon players.

Even though Oak Hill was home Saturday, the team members wore their blue away jerseys to contrast Lisbon’s white away-gear.

During the game, the school is locked. After the game, and after the Lisbon team had changed and left the locker room, Mahala went in and her jersey was not in the locker where she left it.

“We checked all the other lockers in case they put it in another locker,” Stephanie Smith said. “We checked the trash. Checked the toilet. We checked the entire locker room from top to bottom and the jersey was not found.” Even the school’s janitor helped in the search.

Mahala and her mother hope the jersey was picked up by a Lisbon player and got tossed in a bag with dirty laundry and hasn’t yet been noticed.

Through a Facebook post, Mahala and her mother have pleaded with Lisbon players to check their bags and “if you have her jersey please return it. We are really hoping that this was just an honest mistake because to think someone stole her jersey would be very disheartening.”

The Smiths reported the missing jersey to Oak Hill coaches and Athletic Director Jim Palmer, and Oak Hill staff contacted Lisbon High School Athletic Director Eric Hall.

On Wednesday, Hall said the school launched an “ongoing investigation” into the missing jersey, but he declined to elaborate. He also declined to answer whether team members had been asked to check the laundry in their bags, citing student confidentiality.

Assistant football coach Chris Ridley posted a message on Facebook on Wednesday morning to his players: “I’m asking all the football players to ask if it was in the locker when we were there if anyone took it please return it to Mr. Hall. I hope it wasn’t taken out (of) anger, just mistake.”

Palmer said he believes Lisbon High School staff have done everything they can to try to recover the jersey. But, “it’s not going to be coming back. (Oak Hill) kind of accepts that” and will purchase a new No. 1 white jersey.

While he acknowledged the Smiths’ desire to get the jersey back, he said he’s not sure Lisbon players had anything to do with its disappearance. The locker room isn’t locked during the game and people often ask to go into the locked school to use the bathrooms. “Just about anyone could have walked in there during that time frame,” Palmer said, “and may not have any connection with the Lisbon team.”

Palmer said Oak Hill enjoys a “great relationship with Lisbon and we believe they’ve done their due diligence, done the best they can to recover it.”

“You can’t discover something that’s not there,” Palmer said.

Mahala posted her reward notice Sunday, but the jersey hasn’t yet turned up. She  fretting that she won’t get it back before Friday’s game.

If she doesn’t, her mother said, Mahala will have to wear a jersey that hasn’t been issued yet this year, but because of her small size it’ll be enormous on her. Smith also said some of the players have offered to let Mahala wear their jerseys for the game, but she has declined. It’s a state championship game and Mahala wants everyone to wear their own numbers, she said.

Palmer said the new No. 1 jersey will not be delivered by Friday.

The two-time defending state champions will face the Maine Central Institute Huskies of Pittsfield at Orono on Friday night for the state title.

Stephanie Smith asks that anyone with information about the jersey call her at 207-841-6954.


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