GARDINER — The Brunswick football team is among three or four teams expected to contend for the top spot in the Pine Tree Conference’s Class B division this season. So far, the Dragons have made a pretty compelling case for themselves.
Friday night, they waltzed through the mud at Hoch Field en route to a 54-0 win against Gardiner in a game that was all but settled in the first half. The Dragons, who dispatched Brewer 47-2 in the season opener, face their first big test of the season Friday in their home opener against Cony.
Brunswick scored on its first five possessions, leading 21-0 at the end of the first quarter and 40-0 at the half. Coach Dan Cooper began substituting in the second quarter and played nearly all of the second half with his reserves.
“We’ve got a good club,” Cooper said. “We feel pretty good if we can stay healthy and play the way we did these first two weeks, we’ve got a good chance to do well.”
The Dragons did all their damage on the ground. Starting running back Lucas McCue scored on runs of 82 and 28 yards while sophomore Will Bessey scored three times on runs of 33 and 26 yards as well as a punt return of 65 yards. Evan Groat, another sophomore, came on in the second half and scored on runs of 13 and 18 yards, while big junior fullback Alex Bandouveres opened the scoring with an 18-yard run off tackle.
“We got an experienced line,” Cooper said. “These kids have worked hard in the offseason and we’re just poised for a good run this year.”
The Tigers (0-2) were simply overmatched in every department. After going 6-3 last season, they graduated all but two starters while several Class A teams, including Brunswick, have dropped to Class B this season.
“We’ve got to get to work, obviously,” Gardiner coach Matt Burgess said. “We’re young and those kids have to work.”
The game was played in a steady rain which seemed to hurt the smaller Tigers, who slipped on several occasions before getting hit. The Dragons had a good idea where they were going and ran through a number of gaping holes in the line.
“North and south,” McCue said. “That’s how Coach teaches us to run.”
McCue gained 126 yards on just four carries, the big one an 82-yarder up the middle with 4 minutes, 3 seconds left. The Dragons ran just 16 plays from scrimmage in the first half yet led 40-0. Bessey had the other big play of the half when he ran back to pick up a punt that went over his head and found room down the right sideline for the score.
Junior Brad Weston led Gardiner ball carriers with 58 yards on 18 carries.