Lisbon quarterback Lucas Francis rolls out on a quarterback keeper while pursued by Wells defender Matt Tufts (44) during last year’s game. (Portland Press Herald file photo)

Week in and week out for the last two high school football seasons, teams and fans have been hoping for some kind of a sign that Wells is vulnerable in Class D South.

There have been hints, but little more. The Warriors, who have now won 16 in a row dating back to their Class C state title run in 2016, received a legitimate scare from Madison (25-21) in the middle of last season. It turned out to be a false alarm, though, because Wells annihilated Madison in the regional final seven weeks later, 34-12. 

Two weeks ago, Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale seemed to cling to the Warriors like fly paper, and even led by six points on two separate early occasions before Wells’ defensive stand with five minutes left preserved a 30-18 lead in what turned out to be a 36-18 win.

Last week, Oak Hill and Wells were knotted at 13-13 in the second quarter before a couple of special teams mistakes helped the Warriors open a 28-13 halftime lead en route to a 56-13 win. 

Now Lisbon, which like Wells enters the second half of the regular season at 4-0, will present its case as the Warriors’ equal. An unbeaten Lisbon team had designs on doing the same thing last year as it travelled to Wells for a Week 7 meeting that the Warriors won 36-6.


Last week, the Greyhounds’ longest road trip north resulted in an impressive 30-8 victory over Madison. They rushed for 282 yards while limiting the Bulldogs to 149 total yards of offense.

To make their longest bus ride to the south a rewarding one, the Greyhounds will need their running game to move the chains and keep Wells’ vaunted ground game off the field. Lisbon coach Chris Kates would love to see quarterback Lucas Francis (22 carries) and running back Isaiah Thompson (20 carries) get the same kind of workload, even if expecting them to duplicate their production (128 yards and 1 TD and 142-3, respectively) may be a bit unrealistic against a stout, physical Wells front.

To help keep the Warriors from loading up that front to stop the run, the Greyhounds will need to make some plays through the air. Francis was efficient last week, completing six of nine attempts for 57 yards, and he has shown a willingness to spread the ball around to a number of receivers, mostly juniors Riley Quatrano, Seth Leeman, Robbie Dick, Cam Bourget and sophomore Daytona McIver. 

Like Lisbon, Wells takes great pride in grinding opponents into submission in the fourth quarter. Last year, the Warriors’ Wing T featured bruising Fitzpatrick finalist Nolan Potter in the lead role. This year, it’s 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior Tyler Bridge, who, though not quite as physical as his predecessor, punishes opponents with deceptive strength and speed. Last week against Oak Hill, Bridge finished with 113 yards on 11 carries, which actually dropped his average per carry from 13.9 to 13.3 yards.

Wells rolled up 360 yards on the ground against the Raiders, so Bridge has plenty of help. Peyton MacKay and Devin Chace join Bridge as big-play threats, with fullbacks Matt Tufts and Jonah Potter contributing between the tackles. Quarterback Braeden MacNeill and Bridge, who threw a TD pass on a halfback option last week, will keep the secondary honest. 

A victory would give the Greyhounds a big boost not only mentally but an inside track to home field advantage in the playoffs with two of their last three games of the regular season at Thompson Field. Even a hard-fought loss could make a return to Warrior Memorial Field seem less daunting (which, admittedly, was probably the case with Madison last year).

Wells running back Nolan Potter has the ball stripped by the Lisbon defense resulting during the teams’ 2017 matchup. (Portland Press Herald file photo)

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