Football coaches often bristle at the notion of moral victories. But it’s hard to call what the Oak Hill football team got Friday night anything but.

On the road against an undefeated Bucksport team, one that had allowed only 13 points all season and notched three straight shutouts, the Raiders proved they could match up with the best, battling the Golden Bucks before falling 21-14.

Madison quarterback Bryce Willette, left, throws under pressure from Oak Hill’s Hunter Lynch during a Class D South game earlier this month at Rudman Field in Madison. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

In the end, it was a loss, one that dropped Oak Hill to 3-3. But coach Stacen Doucette said it provided proof that the arrow is pointing up with the Raiders.

“I think that with every loss, we’re growing,” he said. “It’s hard to find the positive in a loss, but we’re starting to find them. I think we’re not the same team that played York in Week 1. We’re much improved.”

Oak Hill lost 29-0 in that Week 1 game, and also lost to Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale 42-21 in Week 3. But faced with another test after beating Madison 48-21 in Week 5, the Raiders were ready. Oak Hill stayed with a team that’s been running roughshod through D North, and a team that was looking like perhaps the best in the class as a whole.

“I don’t know if I’ve played such a big, physical team in my career coaching,” Doucette said. “They are built for physicality.”


Doucette said the Raiders had been preparing for that style of play ever since a bye week two weeks ago gave them a chance to hit the reset button.

“We’ve been practicing for that scenario for a few weeks now,” he said. “We went back to basics, went back to fundamentals, with the idea of taking on size. … Sometimes, if you get stuck in the mud, you’ve got to go in reverse to go forward and get your momentum.”

It was nearly enough to land the upset.

“We missed three passes by a total of three yards,” Doucette said. “Going forward, we feel pretty good about our chances, and we feel that people are going to have to start worrying about us a little bit.”


Mt. Blue’s team defense was excellent Friday night, but on an individual basis, no one had a bigger game than Zack Delano.


Delano overpowered Gardiner’s offensive line, notching three sacks, with two in the second quarter and another in the fourth. After the game, coach Scott Franzose praised the junior linebacker.

“(He was) one of the big catalysts on that defense,” Franzose said. “Zack’s one of those guys that makes it happen up front. He disrupts everything, he’s just a sideline-to-sideline guy. That definitely sets the tone up front, which is where it starts.”


Gardiner endured a medical scare involving junior Evan Grady after a trip to Mt. Blue on Friday night.

The Tigers were on their way back from Farmington after a 48-0 loss when Grady, an outside linebacker, began suffering what appeared to be a seizure on the junior varsity bus. After being tended to by assistant coaches Alonzo Connor, an officer with the Gardiner Police Department, and Patrick Munzing, a state trooper, Grady was taken to MaineGeneral in Augusta, where he was discharged after a four-hour stay.

“It was a scary time,” Gardiner head coach Joe White said. “We certainly had all hands on deck, and it was handled really well. … When it all happened, (his teammates) were very concerned, all of them were visibly shaken, and rightfully so.”


Evan’s mother, Veronica Grady, said he was sore but otherwise unhurt on Saturday. She said he was discharged with the go-ahead to resume playing football as long as he felt healthy enough, and that he was playing in a JV game Monday afternoon.

“As I told him, his body had basically run a marathon Friday night,” said Veronica Grady, who posted an update on Evan’s condition on Facebook after the episode. “He’s tired, he spent a day being pretty sore where his muscles had convulsed. … (But) he’s back to his normal self, and we got very lucky.”

Rather than a seizure, Veronica Grady said her son was experiencing a reaction to an excess amount of caffeine, as he had had five energy drinks in seven hours before the game.

“When his father and I walked into the emergency room, the first words out of his mouth to us were, ‘OK, I’m not going to do that again,'” Veronica Grady said. “He did say, ‘OK, lesson learned. Too much. Everything in moderation, and I pushed the limit.’ He definitely has learned his lesson, and I’m extremely grateful for that part.

“He was scared. … There was a period he does not remember what happened. He just woke up and there was a coach beside him.”

Veronica Grady praised the work of the team in assisting her son, and said she’s hoping the incident will be a cautionary tale.


“I just want other people to be aware,” she said. “(Energy drinks) are dangerous. … People need to be aware of the dangers of it. I’m glad it’s getting some attention.”


Gardiner saw its playoff hopes further dented with the loss to Mt. Blue. The Tigers are ninth, one spot out of a playoff berth, and with slim chance of passing eighth-place Brewer in opponents’ Crabtree points, would need to pass the Witches in record as well.

That’s possible, since Brewer has to play 6-0 Brunswick, but it means Gardiner will have to beat both 0-6 Messalonskee and 6-0 Cony to have a chance.

“We’ve got two more, and we could still do it. We could still squeak into the playoffs,” White said. “We’ve got Messalonskee next week, they’re hungry for their first win, we’ve got to get ready for them. And Cony wants the first seed, so they’re going to come down and we’ve seen this scenario before. They’re not going to want to let that one slide.

“But we’re not looking past Messo. We’ve got to beat Messalonskee.”

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