WINSLOW — There should have been a little more anticipation in the air. There should have been a buzz around Winslow’s Poulin Field.
Instead, a half hour before kickoff of Saturday’s Campbell Conference Class C quarterfinal game between Winslow and Yarmouth high schools, what little crowd there was at Poulin Field was subdued. With the news circulating around Winslow, it was to be expected.
On Friday night, two Winslow High School students, Scott Loisel and Alexandria Ferland, both 16, were killed in a two-car accident. Hours later, the Black Raiders played their first home playoff game since 2008.
Many of the Winslow players were friends with Loisel, who played football with them his freshman year. Before the game, public address announcer Tim McCabe asked the crowd for a moment of silence. Then the Black Raiders went on to a 50-22 win.
So close to tragedy, the Black Raiders needed the game, senior co-captain Brock Deschaine said.
“We came together as a team. That’s how we’re going to beat it. We’re going to have to step it up, together, as a team,” Deschaine said.
The game was a two-hour reprieve from grief. Not just for the Winslow players, coaches and other students, but for everybody from the community who attended. Football has been the touchstone in this community for decades.
Winslow defensive coordinator Jim Poulin, whose father Gerry Poulin is the field’s namesake, remembered the days when a Black Raider game was an event.
“If you weren’t here by 1, you wouldn’t get a seat in the bleachers,” Poulin said.
In the days that the paper mill, just up Benton Avenue from Poulin Field, was going full bore, the Black Raiders used it to their maximum advantage.
The guys in the mill would wait until kickoff to blow the digesters. The air around Poulin Field would quickly smell like sulfur. Opponents and their fans would crinkle their nose. The Black Raiders and their fans would take a deep breath. To them, it smelled like victory, said Wally LaFountain, Winslow’s head coach from 1958 to 1968, who is still active with the Black Raiders.
“At 1:30, they would blow the digesters, and all that (stuff) would float over here. Those guys,” LaFountain pointed toward the visitors sideline, “would be like, cough cough.”
Four years is the longest stretch without a home playoff game for Winslow since the mid-1980s. Between the 1997 and 2008 seasons, Winslow hosted at least one playoff game every year except 2002. Deschaine was one of the kids in the crowd, eager for his chance to pull on a black jersey and strap on the orange helmet.
“It’s huge. Following in the shoes of Justin Lindie and all those guys. I mean, they had home playoff games every year,” Deschaine said. “I just remember watching them. They were not going to back down. They were never going to back down.”
Saturday’s win gave Winslow a 22-5 home playoff record. The Black Raiders will go for 23 next Saturday when they host Traip Academy of Kittery. They’ll play for all the Black Raiders who came before them, and for Scott and Alexandria, too.
“This is our first one. We just wanted to represent,” Deschaine said. “We did them solid this week. Now we’ve got to look forward to next week.”
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242