POLAND — A difficult regular season ended well for Caleb Hodgkin. The Poland senior played for the first time since the opening week and helped the Knights defeat Gray-New Gloucester 41-0 in the Battle of Shaker Hill on Friday.

Hodgkin returned with a new number, switching from No. 51 to 85, and a different offensive role, moving from the line to a tight end/running back hybrid. The latter change made Hodgkin a blocker, but also a ball carrier for the first time in his career.

“I had never run the ball,” Hodgkin said. “I was thrown into it Monday at practice, didn’t know anything about it. I think it helped our team because we had one more lineman most of the time.”

Hodgkin ran the ball six times for 18 yards and a touchdown, and caught one pass for 6 yards. He hadn’t played since the first week of the season.

“I’m really excited for Caleb Hodgkin,” Poland coach Gene Keene said. “Poor guy gets injured against Freeport, has to sit out six straight games, and he got to play tonight. That’s what high school sports is all about, giving a kid like him another to play the game he loves.”

Hogdkin’s senior season will continue for at least one more week. Friday’s win advances the Knights (2-6) to the Class C South regional quarterfinal next week at unbeaten Cape Elizabeth (8-0). Poland lost to the Capers 42-0 in the second game of the season.

“We just have to be focused in practice and go out there and think that we can win it,” Hodkgin said.

After the teams exchanged three-and-outs to start the rivalry showdown, Austin Bouchard kick-started Poland’s offense with a 36-yard run on the first play of the Knights’ second drive.

Three plays later, Brady Downing threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Paradis.

On Poland’s next drive, Bouchard ran in from 11 yards out to give the Knights a 13-0 lead.

Gray-New Gloucester’s Boomer Simmons returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards to the end zone, but the touchdown was called back because of a holding penalty.

It was that kind of night for the Patriots. In the second quarter, they blocked a field-goal attempt and returned it to the Knights’ 32-yard line.

It was the first time Gray-NG made it into Poland territory. However, an 8-yard loss and a 10-yard penalty moved the ball back to the 50. The Patriots were forced to punt, but the snap was too high and bounced to the 20-yard line.

The Knights took over from there, and on the fourth play of the drive, Downing threw another 6-yard touchdown pass, this time to Tyler Tucci. That made it 19-0.

The Patriots fumbled on the next play, and Bouchard recovered at the Gray-NG 15.

Poland’s offense was all Hodgkin on the ensuing drive. He carried four times for 6, 7, 1 and 1 yards for a score that made it 27-0 with 1:13 remaining before halftime.

The Patriots moved the ball on their first two drives of the second half, but both ended in turnovers.

After the second, Bouchard ran 52 yards for a touchdown. The senior finished with 178 yards and two scores on 20 carries.

Tucci scored the Knights’ final touchdown in the fourth quarter a a 1-yard run.

“I think it was awesome,” Hodgkin said. “We fought hard. Gray fought hard. The better team won.”

Gray-New Gloucester (0-8) finishes winless a year after making its first postseason appearance. This season was riddled with injuries and inexperience.

“It was a tough season,” Patriots coach Mark Renna said afterward.


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