Oxford Hills’ Wyatt Knightly breaks through the line for a long run during the teams’ Sept. 10, 2021, matchup at Gouin Athletic Complex in Paris. Brewster Burns photo

Thornton Academy coach Kevin Kezal and Bonny Eagle’s Kevin Cooper are impressed — but not surprised — that Bangor and Oxford Hills join their own squads as 3-0 teams atop the Class A football standings.

Bangor will play at Thornton Academy at 6 p.m. Saturday and Bonny Eagle will be at Oxford Hills at 11 a.m. Saturday. Both games were moved from Friday because of the forecast for rain and possible thunderstorms.

Bangor beat Scarborough, 37-36, last week despite having 21 players in COVID quarantine, 12 of whom would have started on offense, defense or a special teams group.

“You look at what Bangor did last week, to deal with that and win on the road against a good team, that’s pretty special,” Kezal said.

Bangor won the game on the final play. Senior quarterback Max Clark, trying to sneak in from the Scarborough 1, had the ball stripped free by a Scarborough defender. The ball bounced forward and was recovered in the end zone by Clark’s sophomore brother, 6-foot-6 wide receiver Landon Clark.

Max Clark completed 30 of 46 passes for 426 yards and three touchdowns, two to his brother and one to tailback Joey Morrison, who also ran for a touchdown. Keegan Cyr had 13 catches for 205 yards.

On the day before the Scarborough game, Max Clark told his teammates, “‘This is the team we’re going with. We can’t make excuses,’ and before the game the kids did a great job of not focusing on an outcome and just trying to stay in the moment,” according to Bangor coach David Morris.

With this week’s game being moved to Saturday, Bangor’s quarantined close-contact players will be available.

Oxford Hills started its season by shutting out Lewiston 54-0 and Sanford 43-0before winning last week at Class B Skowhegan, 27-13.

“All of us in Class A could see this coming from Oxford Hills,” said Cooper, noting how hard the Vikings play on both sides of the ball. “And they’ve been very good with this group at the freshman and JV levels.”

In the Vikings’ case, the improvement has been gradual. In 2018, the final year of the old North-South Class A, Oxford Hills went 6-2 in the regular season (with a win against Bonny Eagle) and advanced to the North final. They followed that up with a 6-5 season in 2019, the first year of the single-division Class A. But the Vikings lost four games against southern powers Thornton, Bonny Eagle and Scarborough and were outscored 164-43.

Bangor won four games from 2015-18, and just once over those final three seasons. The Rams got out of the basement in 2019, going 4-6. But they were not competitive with the so-called Big Three, going 0-4 and being outscored 201-10.

Thornton and Bonny Eagle have combined to win seven of the last eight Class A titles. They will meet in Standish next Friday night. But first we’ll find out if the two power programs really do have some new company at the top.

Cooper believes they already do and “It’s a good thing. I think Maine high school football is better for it.”

CHEVERUS AND LAKE REGION were on the field almost ready to start their eight-man football game last Saturday. Then a phone call alerted the Lake Region staff that its team had a COVID problem.

“Five minutes before kickoff. You couldn’t have set us up and chopped us down any harder. It was a big blow for both teams,” said Cheverus coach Mike Vance.

Vance said there was uncertainty if the player who tested positive was even in attendance. Cheverus’ athletic training staff offered to administer rapid tests to the entire Lake Region team.

“Which we did, and more tests came back positive, so we canceled on the spot,” Vance said.

Cheverus (1-0) also had its Week 2 game canceled because of positive cases at Maranacook.

“It was really hard. A letdown, two weeks in a row,” Vance said. “Our kids just want to play. There are bigger things than high school football, but this is a challenge for them.”

Vance credited his captains, Marshall Fowler, Sebastian Merrill and Braden Smith, for their steady influence to help the team handle the emotional setbacks with maturity.

GET YOUR PANCAKES: Based on his weekly highlights posted to Hudl, Bonny Eagle’s Thomas Horton, a 6-foot-1, 260-pound senior, knows how to serve up pancake blocks as a pulling guard. Horton is also a disruptive force as a defensive tackle/nose guard.

“We think he’s the best lineman in the state,” Cooper said. “There are probably some coaches who will dispute me on that, but he’s special on both sides of the ball and so good at so many things.”

SCHEDULE CHANGES: With Friday’s weather forecast calling for thunderstorms, look for more games to be shifted to Saturday. Along with Oxford Hills’ game, Mt. Blue at Lewiston has moved to Saturday at 1 p.m. The Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale at Poland game was moved to Saturday at 7 p.m. earlier this week.


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