OLD ORCHARD BEACH —  It wasn’t the prettiest football game ever played, but Thursday’s debut of eight-man football was about as much fun as Telstar sophomore Brayden Stevens has had on a football field in a long time.

And he was on the losing end of a 44-28 score to Old Orchard Beach.

Telstar’s Davin Mason drives with the ball as Old Orchard Beach defenders Plaithian Dayton, left, and Jacob Payea move in on defense Thursday, September 5, 2019. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald Buy this Photo

“I think it’s a lot more fun,” said Stevens, who rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns,caught another touchdown and recovered two fumbles. “It’s faster and has more physicality.”

The Rebels and Seagulls ushered in a new era in Maine high school football with a sloppy game (four fumbles, twice as many bad snaps and 22 total accepted penalties). But it was rarely hard to watch, even though the game wasn’t as close as the final score.

OOB led 38-6 at halftime, thanks in large part to Jaden Davies’ five touchdown passes. The junior finished the game with six of his seven completions going for touchdowns (on eight attempts) for 186 yards. And he sat out most of the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.

Telstar struggled on both sides of the ball in the first half. Junior QB Davin Mason scored their first touchdown on a 45-yard quarterback draw late in the first quarter. But aside from that, some good runs by Stevens and relentless effort on defense by Stevens and junior linebacker Shane Ojeda, coach Tim O’Connor wasn’t very pleased. And he let the Rebels know it at halftime.

“We were playing kind of tentative in the beginning. I don’t know why,” O’Connor said. “We’ve worked hard. We’ve done well in our preseason scrimmages. We just let them come to us rather than taking it to them.”

Telstar, which has 21 players and may have more on the way, put more effort and emotion into the second half, despite the lopsided score.

Stevens punctuated that effort with a nifty 53-yard touchdown run in the second half, the kind of run that would make anyone with the speed and strength to do it fall in love with football again.

“It’s harder to get outside with the narrower field,” he said. “Going up the middle and bouncing it outside is definitely the way to go.”

“On defense, It’s a whole ’nother game,” he added. “Open-field tackling, It’s huge. Tight ends popping out for seam routes. That’s big. We got caught on a couple of those, I think. I got caught on one.”

Mistakes such as those are why O’Connor is happy to have a long week to get the Rebels ready for their first eight-man home game, a week from Saturday against Sacopee Valley.

“I’m proud because the kids didn’t give up,” he said. “That’s one thing. But we do have a lot of things to work on.”


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