By Brandon Paul

PARIS — The Oxford Hills Vikings eighth-grade football team concluded an impressive 2017 season with a 38-6 victory over the Gardiner Tigers in the Mid Coast Middle School Football League championship game on November 4.

The Vikings jumped out to a 22-6 halftime lead and added 16 unanswered points in the second half to put an exclamation point on the win.

Oxford Hills was led by wide receiver Jordan Smith and running back Dakota Grassi. Both scored a pair of touchdowns en route to the victory. Quarterback Wyatt Knightly threw two touchdown passes and tight end Isaiah Oufiero added a receiving touchdown in the winning effort.

A heads-up defensive play by Cole Leonard in the fourth quarter sealed the deal for the Vikings. Leonard intercepted an attempted halfback pass in the end zone to secure the team’s seventh win of the season.

The victory for the Vikings capped off a nearly perfect two-year run for the Class of 2022 at the middle school level. Overall, the class compiled a record of 18-1 with championships at both the seventh and eighth-grade levels.

The eighth-grade Vikings were led to the Mid Coast Middle School Football League championship by first-year coaches Travis Hilden and Ben Goodall.

“I’m proud of this group and what they were able to accomplish this season both on and off the field,” Goodall said. “This class has shown throughout their two years at the middle school level that they have the talent and desire that is needed to win games. I look forward to watching them progress as they begin their high school journey next fall.”

Prior to their victory in the championship game, the Vikings took down the Tripp Hornets and Lewiston Demons in the league quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.

Oxford Hills revenged their only loss of the regular season against Tripp with a 36-6 victory. The Vikings played power football and moved the ball at a rapid pace behind a strong performance from the offensive line. Brodi Rice, Jaydan Levesque, Chris Rackliffe, Dylan Worster and Bristol Leahy all made large contributions in the winning effort.

“It was impressive to see how the team handled the late-season loss,” Hilden said when reflecting on his team’s first playoff victory. “Before that moment, they had never lost a middle school football game. Instead of making excuses, they refocused and worked hard. The hard work showed in the playoffs.”

Following the win against Tripp, the Vikings took on Lewiston and came out on top of the semifinal matchup with a 14-6 victory. Quarterback Wyatt Knightly used his arm to help the team pull out to a 14-0 halftime lead. Oxford Hills then relied on their running game and a strong defensive effort to squeak out the win.

The Vikings received their awards and celebrated their championship during a team gathering last weekend in South Paris.

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