Oxford Hills’ Lucas Clark, left, Mehki Hill and Brady Truman celebrate after Truman threw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of a game against Thornton Academy in Saco on Sept. 10. Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald

It’s a familiar cliche, that football is the ultimate team sport.

As the coaching staffs at Lewiston and Oxford Hills prepare for Saturday’s Class A matchup at Gouin Athletic Complex in Paris (1:30 p.m.), however, they can’t help but single out some star players from the opposing team.

That includes one player, Oxford Hills senior quarterback Eli Soehren, who might not even play in the game. He has been sidelined since early in the Vikings’ Week 2 win over Thornton.

“Eli has had significant improvements (rehabbing) the last couple weeks, but he’s still week-to-week as of now,” Oxford Hills coach Mark Soehren said Wednesday night. “We hope to have him back soon, but we want him healthy for the last part of our schedule and playoffs.”

Still, Lewiston (2-2) coach Jason Versey is making sure he prepares his team in case Soehren suits up for the Vikings (4-0).

“If Eli is healthy on Saturday, then we definitely need to worry about him,” Versey said. “That young man was the 2021 Gatorade Player of the Year and I’m sure he keeps a lot of opposing coaches up at night, myself included.”

Advertisement

Versey noted that Soehren’s backup, Brady Truman, has been doing an “amazing job” filling in at quarterback.

Whoever is under center for the Vikings will be able to throw to Teigan Pelletier — “another special player,” Versey said.

“He’s 6-6 and runs like a deer. He’s very athletic and has a nose for the end zone,” Versey added.

Lewiston’s Eli Bigelow, middle, tries to avoid a tackle by Leavitt’s Dayton Calder during the first half of their game in Turner on Sept. 17. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The Vikings also have a dynamic opposing player to worry about, Lewiston running back Eli Bigelow.

“Clearly we need to know where Eli Bigelow is at all times,” Soehren said. “He is a threat to break big runs and is also a target in the pass game.”

“Containing Bigelow is a significant challenge,” Soehren added. “He has had big plays in most of the games this year.”

Advertisement

Bigelow’s biggest game of the year so far came in the Blue Devils’ statement win over Scarborough last week, during which he racked up 334 yards of total offense and scored four touchdowns.

“On offense, Eli Bigelow is a big-play threat every time he touches the ball,” Versey said, “and in my opinion, there’s no tougher inside/outside runner than Farid Muhammad-Aceto.”

Muhammed-Aceto scored twice and gained 101 yards on 12 carries against Scarborough.

Soehren said the Vikings’ defense will need to try and slow down Lewiston’s running game and keep the Blue Devils offense off the field. On the flip side, the Vikings offense wants to establish the run in order to control the game and take the pressure off whoever plays quarterback.

Oxford Hills will have to do that against a Lewiston defensive line that Soehren said features some size that the Vikings players and coaches will have to account for.

The Blue Devils, meanwhile, want to be aggressive on defense.

Advertisement

“As coaches, we will need to have a sound scheme against Oxford Hills’ prolific offense,” Versey said. “Our players will need to play aggressively as a team and swarm to the ball and play like a family.”

Family is more than a word for Lewiston. It’s also an acronym that goes along with the culture that Versey, the first-year coach, is trying to establish.

“Our players play like a family. … When we talk about family, we use it as an acronym. F.A.M.I.L.Y. to us means ‘Forget about me, I love you,'” Versey said. “In our failures and in our successes this year, we understand that we play sacrificially for each other.”

That culture change got a big boost in last Friday’s win over Scarborough, a program that has positioned itself among the best in Class A.

“The Scarborough game solidified our belief that we can play this game at a high level,” Versey said. “… Belief is a powerful force, what we think of ourselves matters greatly anytime we compete. I believe our belief system is changing and moving in the direction it should have always been.”

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.