Earlier this week, sports editor Lee Horton posed the following question to Sun Journal sports reporters Wil Kramlich and Adam Robinson:

With all but the Class A teams’ regular seasons ending this week, what have been some of the biggest surprises to you in 2019?

KRAMLICH: The two things that jump out to me the most come from one of tri-county area games last week.

Before the season, if you had asked me who would win the Edward Little at Mt. Blue game, I would have said the Red Eddies, and probably with a good level of confidence. But here we are in week eight and the Red Eddies have yet to win a game while the Cougars will finish over .500 and maybe head into the playoffs with a 6-2 record.

Now, the Red Eddies lost some key pieces from last year, but they’ve been so solid in recent years. However, no one could have predicted the rash of injuries they’ve bean dealt with all season. And their schedule — maybe the most difficult in the state — set up this possibility. But still, winless after seven weeks is quite surprising to me.

So is Mt. Blue staring at six wins. The Cougars had to adjust to another new coach, but they seem to have really taken to Scott Franzose’s system. And in turn, Franzose — who came from small-school Madison — has taken to the rough-and-tumble Class B North.


Another big surprise has been eight-man football. Both the differences and similarities have been surprising, in a positive way in my mind. And the publicity the brand has received seems to be bigger and more positive than I would have guessed. I will be surprised if it doesn’t grow next year. It has turned around the outlooks for probably every team playing eight-man this year, and there are multiple 11-man programs who could benefit from what eight-man has to offer.

ROBINSON: We figured that the departure of Wells from Class D South to C South would free up the region and give teams like Lisbon, Oak Hill, Spruce Mountain and Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale opportunities to battle their ways to the top of the region, but I didn’t know that the Ramblers would cruise to a 6-1 record heading into the final week.

If you think about it, the writing was on the wall. Winthrop returned a lot of its weapons and maybe the best quarterback in the division in Keegan Choate, so what was not to love? Choate has put up Madden numbers in the limited time he plays each week, as Winthrop usually finds itself up by a few scores heading into halftime, giving Choate an early rest.

Now, in C South, I also am surprised at just how dominant Leavitt has been with Wells now in the same region.

Everyone circled the Leavitt-Wells showdown in Week 6 the day the schedules were released, and both teams entered 5-0 before the Hornets exited with a 22-8 win. It was how they won, however, that surprised me.

The Hornets figure out what works in the first half of their games, then continue with it in the second half until they come out victorious, and at 7-0, I think they could take on everyone left on their path, regular and postseason.

I am also surprised by the reaction eight-man football has gotten. I think there may have been a stigma around the altered game before the season, but seeing the joy and excitement from teams like Telstar and Gray-New Gloucester after their first wins in years definitely proved that the switch has been worth it for many involved. Expect to see more teams next year.

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