A Gardiner football fan sits in the bleachers at Veterans FIeld in Oakland as a rainbowshines in the background Friday night in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

OAKLAND — Few things are more predictable in Maine high school sports than weather delays and postponements. The ones that took place this past weekend, though, didn’t exactly fit the pattern.

Storms throughout the state Friday night meant only a select few games locally and throughout the state kicked off at their scheduled times. As a result, athletic directors were forced into making calculated decisions on when to begin, reschedule or, in some cases, resume the action.

“(I don’t think I’ve ever seen) something this crazy all across the state from north to south,” said Lawrence Athletic Director David Packard. “It happened with almost every game, and as an AD, you have to be watching it carefully because it’s so important to get the game in that night or the next day.”

Three local games — Lawrence vs. Falmouth, Cony vs. Skowhegan and Messalonskee vs. Gardiner — saw delayed kickoff times after lightning was spotted in the area. All three contests started at roughly 7:45 p.m. after those lightning strikes forced mandatory 30-minute delays during warmups.

The games at Messalonskee in Oakland and Lawrence in Fairfield were ultimately completed in full Friday night as no further lightning strikes occurred. As Packard and Messalonskee Athletic Director Chad Foye kept an eye on the storm system, both were confident in their abilities to play their respective contests.

Skowhegan’s Trevor Austin, left, and Cony’s Rocco Napolitano watch what ended up being an incomplete pass during a football game Friday in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“We were looking at it, and we thought, ‘OK, this should be a quick-hitter,’ and that’s kind of what the forecast had called for, too,” Foye said. “We were expecting weather around 10 o’clock, and it came earlier than expected, but we were confident we could get it in, and if not, we would have re-evaluated.”


In Augusta, Cony’s game against Skowhegan was called with 4:57 left in the third quarter and the Rams leading the River Hawks 22-0. That decision, a mutual agreement between both coaching staffs and athletic directors, was made shortly following another lightning delay at 9:15 p.m.

Elsewhere in the state, contests such as York vs. Wells and Bonny Eagle vs. Noble were postponed before they could even begin. Others, such as Lewiston vs. South Portland and Morse vs. Brunswick, began Friday night but were suspended before being resumed Saturday morning or afternoon.

Although resuming a suspended game Saturday after beginning it Friday is doable, there are some drawbacks. Travel, for instance, is one barrier as arranging transportation for what can sometimes be long trips is both challenging and costly, as is securing fields and officials that might have other obligations the next day.

“It needs to be the same group of officials that did that game (who come back),” Packard said. “I think a lot also depends on how late into the second half we are and what the spread is. If it’s 56-0, you’re probably going to have the coaches say, ‘Hey, I’m willing to call it; we’re good.’”


• • •


On what was a wild Friday night for reasons off the field, the craziest game on the field anywhere in the state might have been one of the few that wasn’t delayed, postponed or called early.

Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale claimed a 53-47 overtime win in Friday’s showdown with Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. The game saw both teams mount late rallies and put up gaudy offensive statistics as a young Ramblers team claimed its first win of the season.

“It was a rollercoaster,” said Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale head coach Dave St. Hilaire. “The ebb and flow of the game was really wild. It looked like we were in control a couple different times, but MCI then would hit us on a couple big plays. They just kept coming back.”

Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale ran for an astonishing 495 yards on 59 carries in the victory. Cody Cobb (182 yards, two touchdowns), Brody Adams (125 yards, touchdown) and Braden Branagan (103 yards, two touchdowns) all eclipsed 100 yards rushing for the Ramblers.

Although Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale led 33-20 after three quarters, three MCI touchdowns along with a safety put the Huskies up 41-33 late in the fourth. The Ramblers got a touchdown and successful 2-point conversion to tie the game, but MCI hit right back with a score to pull ahead 47-41 inside a minute.

The visitors, though, refused to yield and tied the game with 9 seconds left on a 34-yard pass from Branagan (7 of 17 passing for 123 yards and three touchdowns) to Adams. Then, after Branagan intercepted MCI’s Caleb Kennedy to start overtime, the junior quarterback scored on a 6-yard run to give the Ramblers the win.


“When you have a young team like ours, winning becomes a learning process,” St. Hilaire. “That’s what I told the kids after the game; I said, ‘You’ve got to learn how to win sometimes, and you learned how to win today.’ They battled, showed resiliency and just made big play after big play.”

Whereas Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale got it done on the ground, MCI found its success in the passing game. The duo of Kennedy (20 of 33, 377 yards, five touchdowns) and Drew Shorey (14 catches, 333 yards, five touchdowns) connected for four touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone.

“One of our safeties got hurt, so we were just plugging and playing back there, and (Shorey) just made big play after big play,” St. Hilaire said. “We were trying to adjust to him, and we just couldn’t adjust to him. He played an incredible game for them. Hats off to him.”


• • •

During a weather delay because of a thunderstorm, referee Dennis Dacus, center, and Cony athletic director T.J. Maines confer about if or when they can start the football game between Skowhegan and Cony on Friday in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Cony’s home opener Friday against Skowhegan was also Autism Awareness Night, where coaches from both teams wore gray T-shirts with the motto “Accept. Understand. Love.” on the front. Players from both teams also wore the autism puzzle piece symbol on the backs of their helmets.


The promotion was the brainchild of Cony coach B.L. Lippert, whose 9-year-old son, Lincoln, was diagnosed with autism several years ago. When the special night first launched in 2017, only two teams — Cony and Lawrence — were involved. This year, coaches and staff from 35 teams were slated to wear T-shirts over the weekend, Lippert said.

“It’s something really important to my family and to a lot of people in this state,” Lippert said. “I’ve heard from many families over the course of the last few years, and their coaching staff wearing a T-shirt mattered to them because they’ve got a grandson or a third-grader that has autism. …  It’s a really meaningful game for a lot of people.”


Staff reporter Dave Bailey contributed to this report.

Comments are not available on this story.