Saint Dominic Academy sophomore Robbie Dick has made an immediate impact on the Lisbon High School football team.

LISBON FALLS — Robbie Dick was ready to give up his dream of playing football through high school and college.

One year out of football was enough for the St. Dom’s sophomore. He and Saints’ athletic director J.P. Yorkey had asked three local schools, including Poland, Dick’s home town and where he had played through middle school, if they would agree to accept St. Dom’s students for football. All three had turned them down.

Lisbon was their last shot before Dick was going to give up and maybe consider soccer. But Lisbon said yes, and  “As soon as they said yes, I jumped right on it,” he said.

Dick joined the Greyhounds a couple of weeks before practice started and has been learning Lisbon’s playbook and football tradition, not to mention the names of his teammates, on the fly. 

Given that the Greyhounds are 5-0 heading into Friday night’s game against Spruce Mountain, Dick is already immersed in the tradition part. He’s immersed himself in the playbook and practices, too, and can point to contributions he’s made to that record on offense, defense and special teams. 

It’s been a difficult but exhilarating two-plus months since he found out he would be an autumn Greyhound. Dick would have been happy to just have football back in his life. But playing it for Lisbon is taking his appreciation for the game to a new level. 

“It’s better than I could have ever imagined,” Dick said. “Just all of the people… Playing on (Thompson Field) is amazing.”

Lisbon coach Chris Kates was glad to welcome Dick, and hopes more will see how their fellow Saint is fitting in and want to follow for seasons to come.

“I was happy to have those opportunities as a high school student and I don’t want to  deny anyone  else the opportunity to play football,” said Kates, who played for Lisbon. “Any time you can bring some athletes into your program and get more competition…You know, we’re only 350 kids, so we’re one of the smaller schools in Class D now, it obviously was good for our program as well as (St. Dom’s).”

Kates found out how valuable the relationship can be sooner than he’d hoped. Given that Dick essentially had three weeks to learn everything about Lisbon before the games counted, Kates hoped to bring him along slowly. But injuries made a more expanded role necessary. As early as the season-opener against Bucksport, Dick was playing slot receiver and cornerback and returning punts and kicks.

“He’s just a good athlete. You could see it right from the start,” Kates said. “We’ve probably had to throw him in there quicker than we would have had to otherwise, but we had some injuries and not a lot of depth at our skill positions, so he got kind of thrown in the fire from the get-go.”

“What hurt him is he missed all of our 7-on-7 stuff,” Kates said. “Generally, we don’t spend a ton of time on our pass game as far as our terminology and knowing your routes once we hit the season. It’s generally accepted you’re going to know it once we hit double sessions, so he was a little bit behind the eight ball there.”

Dick didn’t just have to catch-up on the playbook. If he was going to be a Greyhound, he was going to have to learn how to do everything the Greyhounds way. That meant starting from scratch.

“I relearned everything, I mean, literally everything — the way I ran, the way I return, the way I follow blocks,” he said. 

All while playing next to complete strangers.

“I didn’t know anybody,” he said. “It took a little while to get to know people. I fit in pretty well, I think, but I didn’t know nobody and nobody knew me for the first couple of weeks. I’ve become friends with a lot of them.”

Making plays on the field will win a lot of friends, and Dick, a speedy, big-play threat in the open field, didn’t waste much time doing that. When he nearly returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Bucksport, it seemed both Dick and the Greyhounds at that moment it could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

“The blocking is so good, it’s insane,” Dick said. “It’s perfect. You have a straight line to a touchdown every time.”

He had two touchdown catches against Sacopee Valley and probably would have more this season if not for a hip injury that has dogged him all season. He also broke two bones in his left wrist last week against Dirigo and will miss the game at Spruce Mountain, although he and Kates say that’s due more to the hip than the wrist. He’s avoided a cast for the wrist in hopes of returning for next week’s showdown with unbeaten Wells.

“We’ve got to get him back to being healthy before he can be that player again,” Kates said.

Ironically, Dick’s eagerness to get back on the field and his commitment to the program (parents Seth and Meagan drive him to practice every day) even while battling injuries have reinforced he fits the mold of a Lisbon Greyhound.

“He’s obviously tough. He’s been trying to push through injuries.  I think he fits that mold there,” Kates said. “Where he’s starting to learn a little bit is coming into the tradition aspect of it, not hoping you’ll win but expecting you’ll win.”

The more he learns about Lisbon, the more Dick realizes that the frustration of not playing football his freshman year, and having doubts about whether he would ever play again, was worth it.

“Last year was the first year I didn’t play since third grade. I really missed it,” said Dick, who hopes to continue playing through college. “I love it here. Everybody is so close. Everybody is friends with everybody. There’s no bullying, no crap going on. Everybody is really tight. Everything is business. No messing around. It’s still fun.”

Dick hopes to remain a Greyhound through his senior year, and the two schools plan to continue the co-op at least that long. Dick thinks he will be passing the tradition along to more Saints his junior and senior years.

“We’re looking at one or two more next year, but nobody knows 100 percent yet,” he said.

“I’m sure he’s talking to his friends and telling them how he likes it. Hopefully he doesn’t tell them what he thinks about the coach,” Kates joked.

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