This is the tenth installment in a series recapping the 50th anniversary of the Oxford Hills 10-1 1971 football season.

Long Pearl Running: In the final home game of his stellar Oxford Hills career on Friday night, October 29, 1971, Larry Durgin became the first Viking running back to gain over 200 yards in a single game

“It was our shaggiest game all season,” said Coach Bob Fallon after the latest Friday night outing at Viking Field, the last home game of the season. The 25-0 victory over Belfast left the late coach counting mistakes and a Homecoming crowd of 3,000 sensing things were a little weird. “We can’t make that many mistakes and beat Rockland and Morse.”

“They could have made a thousand mistakes and they still would have beaten us,” said Belfast coach Jerry Michael.

In winning their ninth of the season and seventh in the Pine Tree Conference, the Vikes hit some milestones and some dubious distinctions. They gained 436 total yards, the first time all season they had reached the 400 mark. But the Belfast defense denied the locals three touchdowns on drives that got inside the Lion 10-yard line. The yardage came without regular fullback Pete Brown, out with the flu, and without all-conference tackle Jerre Bryant, nursing a bad ankle.

Quarterback Brad Cummings had an off night, hitting on six of 14 pass attempts. On the other hand, his passing was good enough for 134 yards and three touchdowns.

Without Bryant or Brown on defense, Oxford Hills still managed to hold Belfast to just 24 yards rushing on 29 attempts and quarterback Butch Richards to 37 yards passing (5-14). Defensively, it was the Vikings’ best game of the season.

Then there was halfback Larry Durgin’s performance. The all-state candidate racked up 224 yards on 24 carries, the first time an Oxford Hills runner had ever rushed for more than 200 yards in a game. On the other hand, the usually Mr. Perfect handling the ball fumbled three times, negating long gains. He might have topped 300 yards.

The Vikings struck first with halfback Reggie Olmstead and Durgin highlighting a first-quarter drive to the B-26. At that point, Cummings hit end Bill Brooks on a 26-yard touchdown pass, and a successful point-after kick by Dave Daniels made the score 7-0.

Brooks had an interception at the B-30 on the next series, but the drive stalled, forcing the Vikings to punt. After another short series by the Lions, Oxford Hills started its next scoring drive on its own 24-yard line in the second period. Durgin got 11 yards and Olmstead eight more. Then Durgin blasted off tackle, nearly stumbling before recovering and racing 57 yards for the touchdown.

Two other second-quarter series ended up being missed opportunities for the Vikings. A drive to the B-12 came up empty due to a fumble that moved the ball back to the B-24. On fourth down, Cummings hit end Hal Edwards for an apparent score, but the referees ruled that the play was over at the B-15 because Edwards’ knee hit the ground on the catch.

After a great defensive stand that included partially blocking the Belfast punt, the next Viking possession started at B-14. Two Durgin carries got the ball to the B-5, but an Olmstead touchdown on third down was nullified by a holding penalty that moved the ball back to the B-20. The drive ended with two incomplete passes. The half ended at 13-0 and could easily have been double the margin.

Linebacker Rick Micklon was the defensive star for the victors, especially in the first half, as he had six unassisted tackles, three of which amounted to a loss of 30 yards for the Lions.

A third-period drive starting at the OH-4 saw the Vikings grind it out to the OH-33 on seven running plays before Cummings hit Durgin on a pass to OH-40. On the next play, Cummings connected with him again, this time in the flat for what became yet another 60-yard touchdown scamper by the senior standout in front of the home crowd. The missed conversion kick by Daniels left the score at 19-0.

The last touchdown capped an 11-play drive that saw the Vikings benefit from a 15-yard face mask infraction. After moving the ball from the OH-15 to the B-27, Cummings connected with Brooks for the duo’s second scoring strike of the evening. Another failed conversion left the score at 25-0.

In the fourth period, Oxford Hills had three more touchdown opportunities inside the Belfast 20-yard line and came up empty. As Coach Fallon said, “it was shaggy.”

With the Vikings having closed out its three-game homestand, the team heads to Rockland next Saturday afternoon, November 6, to take on a much-improved Tiger squad.

1971 Homecoming Queen Candidates: From left to right, Mary McDaniels, freshman; Nancy Martin, sophomore; Renee Waite, junior; and Maria Cecelia A. dos Santos, senior

Singepole: Strange activity on Singepole Mountain in October, 1971, led to an undermanned Viking squad for the Belfast game

Bob Moorehead covered the 1971 Oxford Hills football team as a general assignment reporter for the Portland Press Herald and Sunday Telegram. He later served the Guy Gannett Newspapers as a sports editor, city editor, managing editor and general manager. Paul Ricci and Brian Partridge (both OHHS Class of 1972) conceived the idea for the series and provided extensive research. Readers who would like to share any favorite memories or stories from the 1971 season are encouraged to E-Mail either of them at [email protected] or [email protected]

Manager’s perspective
By Everard Monk (junior manager of the 1971 football team, describing the many duties required of a person in that position, one that kept him busy all four years of his OHHS career working with the football, basketball, and baseball programs)

Football:

For any and all football practices, as team manager, I had to do the following:

  •  Make sure that the “Dummy Tackle” bags and Pummel Shields were on the practice field… and many times, I got assistance for this from several of the members on the team.
  • Make sure that we had water bottles or a canister of water on the practice field and available to hydrate the team players.
  • Make sure that we had the equipment on the practice field ready to be used, if necessary.

Things (equipment) such as:

  • Footballs and to make sure that they were pumped up with the proper amount of air…
  • The kick-off tees and place-kicking tees were there…
  • Any and all equipment replacement parts available: Such as Cleats/Spikes for players’ shoes, ear guards & chin straps for players helmets, Spare Mouth Guards, Shoulder Pad straps, etc.
  • Having the Scrimmage Vests ready and available…
  • Make sure that the Medical Kit was well stocked and available for any possible minor injuries that
    occurred on the field [this also included a “straight coke-syrup” bottle for when we had a team member that was a diabetic, such as when Joe Harper played QB for us].
  • During the cold, rainy practice days that we worked outside, we had to make sure to have the heavy rain/weather side-line capes available… and many times, I got assistance for carrying this cape bag out from several of the members on the team.

For any and all Seasonal Games, as team manager, I had to do the following:

  • Made sure that the clock equipment was on the field and in place and working well with the scoreboard before the game began.
  • Made sure that we had water bottles or a canister of water were on the game field and available to hydrate the team players.
  • Made sure that we had the equipment on the game field ready to be used, if necessary.

Things such as:

  • The pre-game practice footballs and game balls were available and pumped up with the proper amount of air…
  • The kick-off tees and place-kicking tees were there…
  • Any and all equipment replacement parts available: Such as: Cleats/Spikes for players
    shoes, ear guards & chin straps for players’ helmets, Spare Mouth Guards, Shoulder Pad straps, etc.
  • Made sure the side-line markers and down-markers were on the field and functional…
  • Made sure that the Medical Kit is well stocked and available for any possible minor injuries that occurred on the field and checked to see if we had a Doctor available, if needed. [this also included a “straight coke-syrup” bottle for when we had a team member that was a diabetic [such as when Joe Harper played QB for us].
  • During the cold, rainy game days; we had to make sure to have the heavy rain/weather side-line capes available… and many times, I got assistance for carrying this cape bag out from several of the members on the team.

Player’s perspective
By Paul Ricci (senior center and defensive tackle on the 1971 team)
Not only was Belfast our Homecoming game, but it was also the last of our seven Friday night home games that season. Unfortunately, that meant that a wonderful tradition experienced by several of the players, including me, came to an end that evening.

Thanks to the generosity of Gary and Taffy Somers (Ron’s parents), it was always open house at 19 Bridge Street in Norway (next to the C. B. Cummings dowel factory) on Friday nights after the home games. And, with each successive victory, the good times continued to roll.

All of the games were broadcast by WKTQ Radio, and the Somers clan had the foresight to tape each one of them. It became standard practice to celebrate each Friday night victory by listening to a repeat of the broadcast while sharing personal anecdotes about particular plays as they occurred.

Needless to say, the Friday night routine that season was very exciting for those of us that took part. After all, we were undefeated at home and quite possibly heading to the Class B championship game!!

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