Lakers shock Mountain Valley with physical 20-6 win

SOARING HIGHER THAN A FALCON — Lake Region sophomore receiver Nick Wandishin catches a touchdown pass over Mountain Valley defender Nick Newman in the right corner of the end zone Friday night. (Rivet Photo)

SOARING HIGHER THAN A FALCON — Lake Region sophomore receiver Nick Wandishin catches a touchdown pass over Mountain Valley defender Nick Newman in the right corner of the end zone Friday night. (Rivet Photo)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

The last time Lake Region beat Mountain Valley, most current players were barely old enough to catch a miniature football.

Since 2001, Mountain Valley has owned the Lakers. One could use a variety of words to describe previous meetings:

Dismantled.

Throttled.

Trounced.

Thumped.

Blasted.

Take your pick. They all apply. The Falcons won nine straight, including six shutouts while outscoring the Lakers 393-58.

In 2001, the Lakers snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Falcons, a program formed in 1989 when Rumford and Mexico merged school systems.

On a Friday night at Hosmer Field, Tim Brown stunned the Falcon faithful with a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown late in the game to help Lake Region erase a 12-0 deficit. In overtime, Brandon Thibeault’s 3-yard burst proved to be the game winner as the Lakers shocked Mountain Valley 20-12.

Lake Region had a chance to log back-to-back wins over the Falcons, but lost the next year 27-26 as Mountain Valley scored with 37.5 seconds left, kicking the extra point in Naples.

That loss triggered a decade worth of futility for Lake Region while the Falcons developed a powerhouse program that claimed four state championships.

So, even in a “down” year, the Falcons walked onto Art Kilborn Athletic Complex Friday night with the same swagger of past MV teams — which had remarkably put up 815 points in the LR-MV series, while allowing just 130.

Early on, it seemed like the same old story. Mountain Valley ran roughshod against the Laker defense as Mike Eversen picked up 13 yards and Joshua Mason banged ahead for 9 more. But, change was in the air as Lake Region stopped the Falcons inside the red zone.

TOUGH TO THROW when Lake Region sophomore linebacker Jay Justison is lowering the boom as Mountain Valley quarterback Ian Austin found out. (Rivet Photo)

TOUGH TO THROW when Lake Region sophomore linebacker Jay Justison is lowering the boom as Mountain Valley quarterback Ian Austin found out. (Rivet Photo)

Linebackers Cody Gibbons and Jay Justison hammered MV’s Kyle Farror for no gain, and senior end Sean Edwards dumped Eversen for a two-yard loss on third down. When quarterback Ian Austin’s toss to a wide open Caleb Gauvin in the end zone fell harmlessly to the turf, Laker fans felt maybe Lady Luck was on their side for a change.

Luck had nothing to do with Lake Region’s stunning 20-6 victory over Mountain Valley. Rebounding from a week of numerous turnovers in a loss to Poland, the Lakers executed crisply on both sides of the ball to pull out the shocker.

“Yeah, nobody in school thought we had a chance against these guys,” said senior lineman Jonathan “Paco” Casillo. “We worked hard as a family — that’s how it is with this team. We wanted to take it to them. We stick together, we play hard, we hit hard. It was a huge win.”

Since Day 1, Coach Brian Jahna has preached the importance of playing a physical brand of football, yet also approach the game the right way — to show character.

Throughout the night, Falcon fans encouraged their frontliners to “wear them (the Lakers) down,” but it was the home team that took control of the trenches.

With senior running back Cody Gibbons pounding the MV front with runs of seven and eight yards, suddenly there was plenty of room on the outside. Sophomore Donovan Eaton provided the spark of confidence the Lakers needed with a burst to the outside for 58 yards. Two plays later, rookie quarterback Cole Jakobs hooked up with fellow sophomore receiver Nick Wandishin for a nine-yard TD in the right corner of the end zone for a 6-0 lead at 2:34 left in the first.

For both players, it was a moment of redemption. Jakobs struggled handling snaps a week ago, and was tentative running the offense. Wandishin was unable to gain separation against Poland defenders, and had many balls fall to the turf.

 LAKERS 20, MOUNTAIN VALLEY 6 First Downs: LR 11, MV 12 Penalties: LR 3-20, MV 4-20 Rushing: LR 35-194, MV 42-162 Individual Rushing: LR, Cody Gibbons 18-88, Donovan Eaton 1-58, Douglas Banks 2-(9), Erik Christensen 4-28, Cole Jakobs 2-4, Gunnar Harriman 3-13, Luke Porter 2-1, Lexus Rodriguez 2-6, Cam Harriman 1-3; MV, Mike Eversen 14-72, Nate Boucher 1-7, Joshua Mason 9-31, Kyle Farrar 15-91, Ian Austin 3-(8) Passing: LR 4-4-58; MV 4-9-87 Individual Receiving: LR, Nick Wandishin 2-20, Nick Hall 2-38; MV, Caleb Gauvin 2-40, Joshua Mason 1-6, Kyle Cote 1-41 Total Offense; LR 252, MV 249 Turnovers: LR 1, MV 2 Tackles (solo, assisted, total): LR, Cam Harriman 2-4-6, Luke Porter 0-1-1, Donovan Eaton 7-1-8, Sean Edwards 6-4-10, Cody Gibbons 4-3-7, Erik Christensen 2-3-5, Gunnar Harriman 1-2-3, Dan Neault 3-1-4, Jay Justison 4-1-5, Lexus Rodriguez 1-0-1, Nick Hall 2-0-2, RJ Legere 1-0-1, Nolan Abrams 0-1-1, Brandon Baillargeon 0-1-1. Fumble Recoveries: LR, Sean Edwards, RJ Legere

LAKERS 20,
MOUNTAIN VALLEY 6
First Downs: LR 11, MV 12
Penalties: LR 3-20, MV 4-20
Rushing: LR 35-194, MV 42-162
Individual Rushing: LR, Cody Gibbons 18-88, Donovan Eaton 1-58, Douglas Banks 2-(9), Erik Christensen 4-28, Cole Jakobs 2-4, Gunnar Harriman 3-13, Luke Porter 2-1, Lexus Rodriguez 2-6, Cam Harriman 1-3; MV, Mike Eversen 14-72, Nate Boucher 1-7, Joshua Mason 9-31, Kyle Farrar 15-91, Ian Austin 3-(8)
Passing: LR 4-4-58; MV 4-9-87
Individual Receiving: LR, Nick Wandishin 2-20, Nick Hall 2-38; MV, Caleb Gauvin 2-40, Joshua Mason 1-6, Kyle Cote 1-41
Total Offense; LR 252, MV 249
Turnovers: LR 1, MV 2
Tackles (solo, assisted, total): LR, Cam Harriman 2-4-6, Luke Porter 0-1-1, Donovan Eaton 7-1-8, Sean Edwards 6-4-10, Cody Gibbons 4-3-7, Erik Christensen 2-3-5, Gunnar Harriman 1-2-3, Dan Neault 3-1-4, Jay Justison 4-1-5, Lexus Rodriguez 1-0-1, Nick Hall 2-0-2, RJ Legere 1-0-1, Nolan Abrams 0-1-1, Brandon Baillargeon 0-1-1.
Fumble Recoveries: LR, Sean Edwards, RJ Legere

Not Friday night.

“Coach told me today that I just need to attack the ball. That’s what I was thinking when I was in the air,” Wandishin said. “I had to have a short memory about what happened last week and move on. Cole and Doug threw two great passes, and all I had to do was jump and go get them.”

Coach Jahna was impressed with how Wandishin battled back.

“We — Nick (Wandishin) and I — talked last Saturday morning about keeping his head up. It was a tough game at Poland, but I know he is a tremendous football player. He came out, played like he can and was a true difference maker,” Coach Jahna said. “Nick (Hall) made a great catch and run after the catch. It is critical for us to be able to pass the ball. If we can’t, teams stack it up and we have nowhere to run. We need to be able to open it up.”

Mountain Valley shook off the Laker score with an 11-play, 64-yard drive as quarterback Ian Austin found Gauvin for 17 yards and Kyle Farrar raced to the left sideline on fourth down for a 14-yard TD run with 8:39 left until the half.

Tied 6-6 at the half, Laker Coach Brian Jahna continued to encourage his players to keep up their intensity.

“We felt pretty good about the way we played last week, but when Mountain Valley comes in, it is hard to get beyond the mystique. There is a certain intimidation factor when they come in. They have a wonderful program, and it is a true honor to play against them. Their coach (Jim Aylward) is fantastic. To be able to play with them is just wonderful,” Coach Jahna. “We wanted to play physical, play together, and play with character. If we could do that, and if things started to click and allowed us to believe, I thought we would be fine. Win or lose, we want to finish a game knowing we played physical and with character. We did that.”

Coach Jahna liked what he saw in his defense, and simply reminded them to stick with their assignments.

“We had to stop reading and chasing, and stick with our assignments, which we did a better job as the game went along. There was no change in defensive scheme, but more about our guys staying more disciplined,” Coach Jahna said. “There was no rah-rah. We knew what we wanted to do, we wanted to pump up our intensity a little bit, and stay with our assignments. With Mountain Valley, they expect to win and we’re working on believing we’re not going to lose, so we knew any lead wasn’t safe. Our guys stayed focused and we finished the deal.”

On their first possession, the Lakers regained the lead 13-6 when sophomore quarterback Douglas Banks zipped a pass over the middle to tight end Nick Hall, who refused to go down despite three hits, scoring from 24 yards out on a 3rd-and-15 call.

“I’ll never forget that catch,” Hall said. “When I caught it, I wanted to score a touchdown. I just kept trucking through.”

Marcus Devoe’s extra point kick was good.

How startling was Lake Region’s 20-6 victory over Mountain Valley last Friday night at Art Kilborn Athletic Complex? Consider these numbers: • The last time Lake Region beat the Falcons, it was 2001 in a thrilling 20-12 overtime victory in Rumford. Lake Region erased a 12-0 deficit, including a 90-yard punt return for a score by Tim Brown. Brandon Thibeault scored the game winner on a 3-yard burst in OT as the Lakers improved to 4-1. • Lake Region nearly won in 2002, but saw a victory slip through their fingers as the Falcons scored the game winner with 37.5 seconds and kicked the extra point for a 27-26 victory in Naples. • Another close call came in 1992 when the Lakers jumped to a 12-0 lead in the first quarter during their Homecoming game. The Falcons spoiled the party with a 34-12 comeback win. • Since the 2001 win, the Lakers were manhandled by the Falcons. MV went on to win nine straight (the teams did not play in 2011 or 2012). The Falcons won four state championships during that time period, and outscored the Lakers by an eye-popping 393 points to 38, including six shutouts. • Rumford and Mexico merged to form Mountain Valley in 1989. The Falcons own a 20-2 record against Lake Region. Overall, MV has scored 815 points against the Lakers, while the blue and gold posted just 130 total points. LR has been shutout a total of 10 times. Tale of the Tape (Regular Season) 2013: Lakers 20, Falcons 6 2012: Did Not Play 2011: Did Not Play 2010: Falcons 45, Lakers 6 2009: Falcons 39, Lakers 0 2008: Falcons 56, Lakers 0 2007: Falcons 54, Lakers 0 2006: Falcons 31, Lakers 0 2005: Falcons 40, Lakers 0 2004: Falcons 53, Lakers 6 2003: Falcons 42, Lakers 0 2002: Falcons 27, Lakers 26 2001: Lakers 20, Falcons 12 OT 2000: Falcons 39, Lakers 0 1999: Did Not Play 1998: Falcons 32, Lakers 6 1997: Falcons 50, Lakers 0 1996: Falcons 56, Lakers 6 1995: Falcons 24, Lakers 7 1994: Falcons 40, Lakers 12 1993: Falcons 19, Lakers 0 1992: Falcons 34, Lakers 12 1991: Falcons 44, Lakers 6 1990: Falcons 41, Lakers 0 1989: Falcons 31, Lakers 3

How startling was Lake Region’s 20-6 victory over Mountain Valley last Friday night at Art Kilborn Athletic Complex? Consider these numbers:
• The last time Lake Region beat the Falcons, it was 2001 in a thrilling 20-12 overtime victory in Rumford. Lake Region erased a 12-0 deficit, including a 90-yard punt return for a score by Tim Brown. Brandon Thibeault scored the game winner on a 3-yard burst in OT as the Lakers improved to 4-1.
• Lake Region nearly won in 2002, but saw a victory slip through their fingers as the Falcons scored the game winner with 37.5 seconds and kicked the extra point for a 27-26 victory in Naples.
• Another close call came in 1992 when the Lakers jumped to a 12-0 lead in the first quarter during their Homecoming game. The Falcons spoiled the party with a 34-12 comeback win.
• Since the 2001 win, the Lakers were manhandled by the Falcons. MV went on to win nine straight (the teams did not play in 2011 or 2012). The Falcons won four state championships during that time period, and outscored the Lakers by an eye-popping 393 points to 38, including six shutouts.
• Rumford and Mexico merged to form Mountain Valley in 1989. The Falcons own a 20-2 record against Lake Region. Overall, MV has scored 815 points against the Lakers, while the blue and gold posted just 130 total points. LR has been shutout a total of 10 times.
Tale of the Tape
(Regular Season)
2013: Lakers 20, Falcons 6
2012: Did Not Play
2011: Did Not Play
2010: Falcons 45, Lakers 6
2009: Falcons 39, Lakers 0
2008: Falcons 56, Lakers 0
2007: Falcons 54, Lakers 0
2006: Falcons 31, Lakers 0
2005: Falcons 40, Lakers 0
2004: Falcons 53, Lakers 6
2003: Falcons 42, Lakers 0
2002: Falcons 27, Lakers 26
2001: Lakers 20, Falcons 12 OT
2000: Falcons 39, Lakers 0
1999: Did Not Play
1998: Falcons 32, Lakers 6
1997: Falcons 50, Lakers 0
1996: Falcons 56, Lakers 6
1995: Falcons 24, Lakers 7
1994: Falcons 40, Lakers 12
1993: Falcons 19, Lakers 0
1992: Falcons 34, Lakers 12
1991: Falcons 44, Lakers 6
1990: Falcons 41, Lakers 0
1989: Falcons 31, Lakers 3

“It felt great going in. I’m just grateful for the opportunity,” Banks said. “On the first touchdown, I noticed that in most cases the tight end was open. So, I looked there and he (Nick Hall) was open. I got hit as I threw the ball, so I didn’t see him score. The second one, I saw that the corner was shorter than Nick (Wandishin), so I knew if I put the ball up high, Nick could go get it. I’m thankful he caught it.”

Following a fumble on the kickoff and recovered by RJ Legere at the MV-17, Banks showed nice touch, lofting a ball to Wandishin in the right corner of the end zone. Wandishin outjumped MV cornerback Nick Newman for the score. Again, Devoe tacked on the extra point for a 20-6 lead with 5:55 left in the third quarter.

The Falcons fumbled again, recovered by Edwards, but the Lakers were unable to capitalize.

Late in the quarter, Mountain Valley drove the ball deep into Laker territory. Joshua Mason rumbled for eight yards to keep the drive alive on a fourth down play. Inside the LR-15, MV suddenly found little running room. Gibbons, Justison and Erik Christensen delivered big hits, resulting in a 4th-and-9 situation. Austin looked for Gauvin near the goal line, but the pass was broken up by Wandishin.

“It was huge. It speaks to the character of our guys. It’s moments like that when you really see it show. We don’t get done. We don’t get upset. We don’t turn on each other. We stay strong as a team in those moments. We made those same types of stands against Poland (last week), but we didn’t do anything offensively,” Coach Jahna said. “The make-up of this team is that we don’t get nervous when our backs are up against the wall.”

The Lakers sealed the upset as Christensen ran over two defenders for 14 yards, Gibbons broke containment on a sweep for 25 yards and Gunnar Harriman’s second effort resulted in a 12-yard gain. Suddenly, the Lakers moved from their own 15-yard line to the Falcon 24, taking four minutes off the clock.

On fourth down, Devoe attempted a 37-yard field goal, which sailed wide right with 3:15 left.

The Falcons’ last-ditch effort came up short on fourth down as Eaton stopped Austin two yards short on fourth down.

And for a change, there were smiles on the Laker sidelines and in the stands as the Falcon mystique had finally been broken, at least for one night.

“We believe in ourselves. It has taken a while for things to click because we have a new (offensive) system. We’re starting to see success with it. We’re starting to believe in what we are doing,” Coach Jahna said. “That’s how we play football — we grind, we wear people down, we try to get three, four, 5 yards. That’s our brand of football. That’s the kind of football we want to play.”

Up and down his roster, Coach Jahna praised the efforts his kids put forth. He pointed to a coming out party of his sophomore quarterbacks.

“We’ve spent a lot of time on ball handling, and did a much better job of it tonight. We executed well. We had two young guys taking over at quarterback and they really did an incredible job leading the team,” Coach Jahna said. “It was exciting to see. I really want to emphasize that they — Cole (Jakobs) and Douglas (Banks) — really work so hard and compete so hard against each other, yet on game day, they come together, be good teammates, and do whatever it takes to help this team. To me, it epitomizes what this team is about — two guys battling it out for a position, then share it and are okay with it. There were no down heads. When I said it was time for the next guy to go in, Cole and Douglas were ready.”

Few players or fans were quick to leave the locker room area, celebrating a rare win over the Falcons.

“Mountain Valley has been one of the best teams in the state for years. To beat a team like that is a great momentum boost for our team, especially going into our next game against Yarmouth,” Banks said. “We’ll be fired up.”

Gibbons added, “It’s a huge win for us and the community, in general. Everyone has been working real hard and tonight it paid off. Our line set the tone early. They played great. Our coach has told us all week that we needed to be the more physical team out there, and tonight, we were. Inside those lines, we pull together.”

Jakobs said, “A win over Mountain Valley — one of the proudest football programs in the State of Maine — is crazy.”

“It was a great win,” Wandishin said. “We’re all brothers — we’re really close. We really came together tonight.”

Up next: The Lakers host Yarmouth (1-1) in the Homecoming Game this Friday at 7 p.m. at Art Kilborn Athletic Complex.

The Clippers throttled Gray-New Gloucester 36-6, but lost a tough 14-7 decision to Leavitt last week after leading the Hornets 7-0 at the half. The Clips are led by senior quarterback Brady Neujhar, who had six touchdowns a year ago. He rushed and passed for 1,000 yards. His weapons include senior Matt Woodbury, Matt Klepinger (who has TD passes of six and 24 yards) and Rhys Eddy.

“Yarmouth is an extremely talented, disciplined team. If we break assignments against them, we won’t have a great night,” Coach Jahna said.

 

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