PARIS — Replacing one of the top quarterbacks in the state of Maine along with a productive senior class is tough, but Oxford Hills showed it might be up to the task Friday night against Lewiston.

Sophomore quarterback Atticus Soehren threw two touchdown passes as the Vikings put the hammer down on the Blue Devils 40-0 in the teams’ season-opening game.

“He’s a young quarterback and it’s hard to replace Colton (Carson), but we’ve been working on his poise in the pocket and he responded and he did a great job,” Oxford Hills coach Mark Soehren said.

What made Atticus Soehren’s job at the helm much easier were the weapons around him.

Colby VanDecker ran for 120 yards and a touchdown, and nine different Vikings recorded a carry. Ty LeBlond amassed 53 receiving yards, including a six-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

“We talked last year that Addison Brown and Ty (LeBlond) and even Colby (VanDecker) could start on a lot of teams in the state,” Mark Soehren said. “We knew coming back that not a lot of people would know who they were, but we knew we had some skilled athletes and we knew Atticus is a skilled thrower.”

Atticus Soehren definitely felt a weight lifted off his shoulders in his first career start when he saw his playmakers doing what they do best early in the game. On the first drive, tight end JJ Worster took a handoff into the end zone from 2 yards to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead.

“There’s always nerves, but the offensive line I had — there wasn’t a lot of pressure in my face, and getting into spots in the running game really takes the pressure off of me,” Atticus Soehren said. “With all the running backs and receivers, we are really deep at those positions, and it really takes the pressure off when we can call a play and the next man up can do their job.”

On Lewiston’s first drive, Oxford Hills forced a fumble and Cade Truman picked it up and ran it back 30 yards for a touchdown and a quick 14-0 lead.

Lewiston kept bouncing back and was able to stall the Vikings’ offense a few times. The Blue Devils’ effort excited new coach Darren Hartley.

“I thought the kids showed a lot of adversity, honestly,” Hartley said. “We went down 14-0 early and then made a couple defensive stops. I thought we were going to turn it back and get a little momentum, but this is where we are at right now. We are trying to change the culture of the program and I thought the kids stayed positive.”

Atticus Soehren later found Addison Brown for a 22-yard touchdown, and while the point-after attempt was no good, the Vikings’ 20-0 lead was convincing.

Lewiston started sophomore Kameron Caron at quarterback and, after a few throws that missed their mark, turned to a run-based attack, with Caron, Danny May and Dylon Jackson taking the bulk of the carries. However, the Vikings’ front line remains as solid as it was last year, when the team reached the Class A North regional final.

“Our defense is the heart of who we are,” Mark Soehren said. “Coming back, we knew we had a tough front seven. We knew we have two of the top tackles in the state, and we also had JJ Worster in there.”

Lewiston was just 2-7 last season, but Mark Soehren and his team knew to not take the Blue Devils lightly.

“Lewiston and EL, we all play each other very well and it’s always a tough game,” Mark Soehren said. “It doesn’t matter if we are up or down. I don’t know that we were trying to make a statement, but Lewiston has come here on a number of occasions when we thought we were pretty good and they beat us.

“I don’t think we were trying to make a statement but we are trying to learn how to compete.”

In the second half, VanDecker took a run to the left, broke a couple tackles, jumped over a few diving arms and tip-toed down the sideline for a 49-yard touchdown, putting Oxford Hills on top 33-0.

The Vikings capped the scoring when backup quarterback Wyatt Knightly threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Lincoln Merrill.

Even after the tough loss, Hartley is optimistic about how his team fought, and the future to come.

“The bottom line is that our expectations have been diminished over the last few years and we are trying to improve our expectations, demeanor and attitude,” Hartley said. “Our performance is not indicative of the scoreboard. I thought we played better at some points today, better than we have all year so far.

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