Oxford Hills’ Eli Soehren (5) and Mekhi Hill (55) celebrate as time expires in the Class A state championship game against Thornton Academy at on Nov. 19 at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium. Brewster Burns photo

A decade of incremental improvement transformed the Oxford Hills football program from a consistent Class A cellar dweller into a state title contender.

The next step was to become a state champion, and the Vikings were not going to be denied last fall.

Oxford Hills finished off a perfect season with the program’s first state title. Because of their dominance, the Vikings are our choice as the 2022-23 Varsity Maine Boys’ Team of the Year.

If they were a team of destiny, it was a destiny earned with hard work and patience.

Mark Soehren became the head coach at Oxford Hills in 2012. The Vikings made the playoffs in 2014, and then became annual postseason participants in 2016. In 2018, they reached the A North final.

“It’s been an incredibly long journey. I mean, we took over, I think we had won three games in four years,” Soehren said. “We just sort of sat and we said we’re going to trust the process, we’re going to work hard, and the kids will buy in … and the things that we’ve done and asked the kids to do, they’ve done.”


The Vikings, with Soehren’s son Atticus at quarterback, were expecting to be state title contenders in 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic ended that season before it began.

However, it did not derail the Vikings’ momentum. Soehren’s other son, Eli, took over as the starting quarterback in 2021 and led Oxford Hills to the state final, where they lost to Class A powerhouse Thornton Academy.

The Vikings were so dominant in 2022 that even losing two of the state’s best players, Eli Soehren and Lincoln Merrill, to injuries early in their regular-season meeting with Thornton couldn’t stop them. The Vikings made enough big plays on offense and big stops on defense to beat the Golden Trojans, 25-20, in the second week of the season.

Brady Truman, Soehren’s backup, quarterbacked Oxford Hills to victories the next two contests, against Sanford and Class B finalist Portland, then the two quarterbacks split time in a 45-8 win over Lewiston.

The Vikings rolled through the season with an 11-0 record. Seven of those victories were by 31 points or more. They scored 34 or more eight times. They held opponents to eight points or less six times, and they only allowed 20 points once. Overall, they outscored their opponents, 417-111.

A 34-0 shutout over Bonny Eagle in the state semifinals set up a Class A state final rematch against Thornton on Nov. 19 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.


Oxford Hills scored first in the championship game, driving the ball 72 yards, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Soehren.

A second 1-yard TD run by Soehren was set up by a 72-yard reception by senior Grayson Foster, a less-heralded player on the stacked Oxford Hills roster, who finished the game with more than 100 yards receiving and intercepted a pass.

The Vikings all but put the game away in the third when Hunter Tardiff, whose father Jeremy Tardiff won the Fitzpatrick Trophy in 1994 and is considered the best player in Oxford Hills history, returned an interception 18 yards for a touchdown that put the Vikings up by two scores.

The defense shut down the rest of the Thornton threats, and Oxford Hills claimed its first football state championship with a 21-7 victory.

As soon as the final second ticked off the clock, Eli and Mark Soehren found each other on the field and embraced.

“We’ve worked so hard for this, and our school deserves one,” Eli Soehren said. “It’s great to come out with this, and I love those dudes.”

After the season, the Vikings received several individual accolades.

Eli Soehren was named the Fitzpatrick Trophy winner, and earned Class A and MaxPreps’ Maine player of the year honors. Lineman Zach Louvat received the Gaziano Defensive Lineman award. Soehren, Louvat, Merrill, Teigan Pelletier and Holden Shaw were chosen for the Varsity Maine football All-State team, and Mark Soehren was named the Varsity Maine football Coach of the Year.

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