Freeport’s Caden Benedict gets taken down by Leavitt’s Damion Calder during Friday night’s Class C South football semifinal in Turner. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

It wasn’t by accident that Leavitt played lights-out defense for the first 20 minutes of its win over Freeport.

Falcons coach Paul St. Pierre said that the Hornets don’t have any weak pieces on their defense, but the Leavitt defenders were also prepared, according to head coach Mike Hathaway.

“Our guys did a good job paying attention to the game plan. We knew exactly what they were going to do offensively. Our guys did a great job with the film study. They were just ready,” Hathaway said.

The Hornets held the Falcons to minus-19 yards of offense before a Freeport drive late in the first half got the visitors out of the red. Leavitt forced eight negative-yardage plays in the first half.

LEEMAN, GREYHOUNDS ON THE RUN

After an up-and-down September, the Lisbon Greyhounds of October and November have come to resemble the tough, physical Lisbon teams coach Chris Kates has known his whole life.

“We had a real slow start to our season. This is a group that’s gotten a lot better every single week,” he said. “We’re not the same team we were in week two or three. Hopefully we can keep building this week and continue to get better.”

One of the key factors in the Greyhounds’ second-half improvement is senior QB Seth Leeman. Sidelined by a concussion early in their season-opening 14-6 loss to Fryeburg, Leeman missed two next two games before returning Sept. 28 for their 49-14 loss to Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale.

Lisbon has won four out of five since, including back-to-back wins over Oak Hill in which Leeman rushed for a combined 262 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries.

“I think Seth’s been coming into his own the last couple of weeks,” Kates said.

Given that he was essentially out of action for the first three games of the season, Leeman isn’t taking the opportunity to come into his own for granted.

“It feels great. This sport, I love it, so I mean, once I can get back on the field I just give it my all and do everything I can,” Leeman said.

Leeman showed good vision and burst on his three touchdown runs in Saturday’s 48-20 Class D South semifinal win over the Raiders. The 6-foot-2, 160-pound signal-caller scored on runs of 33, 69 and 74 yards, all in the first half, following his blockers through the middle near the line of scrimmage before busting outside to daylight.

“Not a lot of teams expect a tall, skinny guy to run right between the tackles and kick it outside,” he said.

“When they do expect it, they’ll blitz all of the gaps, and maybe they’ll get through a hole, but our line just really punched them right in the mouth,” Leeman said.

Second-seeded Lisbon will get another shot at the top-seeded Ramblers for the regional championship at 7 p.m. on Friday night in Winthrop.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE FOR HORNETS

Everything seemed to go Leavitt’s way in the first half of Friday night’s Class C South semifinal win against Freeport, so much so that the first-team offense and defense got to rest after halftime.

But there was still 24 minutes of football to played, and somebody had to play it for the Hornets. And with as much talented depth as the Hornets have, and how much head coach Mike Hathaway likes to spread the wealth, some key Hornets were still in the game despite Leavitt being up 48-0.

So it stung when senior Garrett Jabbusch went down to a major left leg injury three plays into the second half, and then junior Ashton Gray in the fourth quarter trying to stop the Falcons from scoring.

“It’s really tough,” Hathaway said. “(Garrett) is a senior, he works really hard, he’s got a great attitude. Same with Ashton. Those are two guys that are important to our team.”

Jabbusch is part of the Hornets’ carousel of ball-carriers, while Gray is one of the team’s options at long-snapper, in addition to providing depth on both sides of the ball. Hathaway said Gray plays in every part of special teams, and  Jabbusch was a contributor in that third phase of the game as well.

KNIGHTLY TAKING IT SLOWER FOR VIKINGS

Coaches and players often talk about the game slowing down for a young player, meaning that he’s able to process what’s going on around him better and make fewer mistakes while seeing plays that are to be made.

Oxford Hills sophomore quarterback Wyatt Knightly’s grasp of the speed of the game has improved significantly since he stepped in for injured junior starter Atticus Soehren against Scarborough three games ago.

Since losing to the 7-2 Red Storm, Knightly has throw four touchdown passes and only one interception while leading the Vikings to wins over Bangor and Sanford.

“Every game is seeming a lot slower,” he said after last Friday night’s 42-0 Class A quarterfinal win over Sanford. “Against Scarborough, I came out kind of nervous and it seemed wicked fast, a lot faster than JV games. This one is probably the best yet, it just seemed, like, so slow, against a wicked good opponent.”

Knightly isn’t slow when he decides to tuck it in and run. His rushing performance against Sanford (12 carries, 80 yards, TD) was overshadowed by Colby VanDecker’s bruising 207 yards rushing, but Vikings coach Mark Soehren said the 6-foot-1, 167-pound QB helps take some of the pressure off of his workhorse running back.

“He’s a tough kid. He’s always tough,” Oxford Hills coach Mark Soehren said. “He took a beating with the JV. So we knew he’s a strong kid. And he can throw, for sure, but he’s also bigger than Atticus so we can run with him a little more.”

Knightly can expect things to speed up again next Saturday when the fourth-seeded Vikings travel to Saco to face top-seeded and unbeaten Thornton Academy in the semifinals.


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