WATERVILLE — It was a long week for new Waterville Senior High School head football coach Matt Gilley. With his first game as the coach of the Purple Panthers looming, Gilley didn’t get much sleep.

If the Panthers play the rest of the season like they did in their coach’s debut, Gilley won’t toss and turn again all season.

Waterville dominated Foxcroft Academy on both sides of the ball, taking a 36-14 win at Drummond Field and giving their new coach his first career win.

“I’ve been coaching these guys when they were little. I’ve seen them play football. For me, I could not be more proud of these guys. What a great first win for this staff and this team,” Gilley said.

The Panthers put up 419 yards of offense, 384 coming from a run game that averaged 6.3 yards per carry. Defensively, Waterville held the Ponies to 177 yards of offense, and Foxcroft didn’t gain a first down until the 6:49 mark of the third quarter.

“Coach (Gilley) gave us a good pep talk at the beginning, and we were fired up. We were flying around, 11 men to the football, every play,” Waterville senior Ben Cox, a two-way lineman, said.

The key to stopping Foxcroft’s offense was stopping talented running back Peter Boyer. The Panthers held Boyer to 27 yards on 11 carries, with 21 yards coming on one carry in the fourth quarter.

“We were taught to key on their guards. Whichever way they pulled was going to bring us right to the play. That’s what we did, and we were pretty successful, I think,” Cox said.

“The No. 1 focus this week was (to) be tough stopping the run. Our guys stepped up big time. Any team in our league would take (Boyer) in a heartbeat,” Gilley said. “We were talking 22 (Boyer’s number) all week long. They knew what was coming, and you saw the results on the football field.”

Waterville ran 73 plays; the Ponies ran just 40.

“They were just too physical up front, and we just couldn’t match that. We couldn’t find a way to gain anything at the line of scrimmage,” Foxcroft coach Danny White said.

Conversely, Waterville’s backs often went untouched until a few yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Alex Pressey gained 154 yards for the Panthers, while Dan Pooler ran for 108. Jared Spear added 72 yards for the Panthers, who spread the ball around and kept everyone fresh on a hot day.

“We want to establish the run inside, and then we’ll work to the outside as the game goes on. They bought in to that and really played it the way we wanted them to play it. It was really an impressive effort,” Gilley said.

The Panthers got on the board when Pressey ran 35 yards for a touchdown with 9:52 left in the second quarter. Waterville increased the lead to 10-0 on Dan Pooler’s 26-yard field goal with 3:17 left in the half.

After forcing a Foxcroft three-and-out, Waterville took over on its own 45. Spear broke a 53-yard run to the Foxcroft 2, and quarterback AJ Godin ran in for a score and a 16-0 lead one play later, with 1:00 to play in the half.

Waterville’s first drive of the third quarter resulted in a four yard touchdown pass from Godin to Shahzaib Khan, and a 23-0 Panther lead. The only offensive success Foxcroft found was in the air, when Chris Storer threw touchdown passes of 12 and 45 yards to Hunter Smith (six catches, 127 yards) in the second half.

With 8:26 left in the game, Godin threw his second touchdown pass, this one a 14-yard pass to Devon Begin to push Waterville’s lead to 36-7.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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