PORTLAND — The Scarborough High School offense was as good as advertised. The defense lived up to every bit of the hype.

But it was the special teams — often overlooked in a game with the magnitude of a state championship — that got the Red Storm off and running toward their first title since 2002 and their first-ever Class A crown.

With long kickoff and punt returns throughout the game, Scarborough applied pressure and kept it on an overmatched Windham team en route to an emphatic 57-0 thumping at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“In all three phases we were good today, and that’s where we got the good start,” said coach Lance Johnson, whose team returned four combined kickoffs and punts for 170 yards. “We’ve got athletes that can return kicks, which is a huge advantage, so we’re getting good field position from the kick game, we cover kicks well. It just controls field position, which can affect how you call plays.”

That good start was the first play of the game. Jeremy Sendrowski took the kickoff and took off down the left side for 54 yards to the Windham 26-yard line. Scarborough needed only six plays to make it the rest of the way, with Owen Garrard plunging in from a yard out.

“We knew that special teams were going to be a big part of the game, field position is huge,” said Sendrowski, who also had an interception on defense. “We don’t (overlook special teams) at all. We know it’s very important, that can change the game. Momentum swings easily in this game.”

If there were any lingering jitters on the Scarborough sideline, they were dashed once Sendrowski made his way down the field.

“We beat them pretty easily in the regular season, but it’s still a state championship game and the kids are nervous,” Johnson said. “Getting the first score was big, and Jimmy’s kick led to that first score.”

Scarborough’s special teams were at it again after Windham went three-and-out on its first series. Jarett Flaker took the punt and raced 54 yards down to the Windham 10, and two plays later Garrard was in from 9 yards out to make it 14-0.

The game was not even six minutes old, and thanks to special teams, it was already a runaway.

“We just got those big plays, and we kept rolling. They couldn’t stop us,” Flaker said. “We’re very dangerous back there. We have a lot of good skill players.”

• • •

Johnson knew there wasn’t much he could to erase the notion that his Red Storm were the heavy favorites going into Saturday’s game.

“It’s hard to watch the film of the first game and not (think that),” he said, referring to Scarborough’s 66-7 victory over the Eagles on Oct. 6.

The expectations shouldered on such a favorite can get heavy, but if the Red Storm felt the weight, it didn’t show. Scarborough scored the first four times it got its hands on the ball, taking a 29-0 lead with 10:19 to play in the second and then a 36-0 advantage by halftime.

“We tried to block it out of our minds, and really just focus on us,” said senior running back Owen Garrard, who ran for four touchdowns and caught another. “We really wanted to come in here and just play our game, and not worry about them. … Just do our job. If we did that, we knew we could get the win and we did.”

It was a continuation of Scarborough’s playoff dominance, which included wins over Sanford (53-15) and Thornton Academy (49-7) that turned the Red Storm from a title contender to a Class A force.

“We got in a groove,” Garrard said. “We all got together as a team, we said we need to pick it up, and we went on a great run.”

• • •

It was supposed to be Wells’s weakness, provided the Warriors had one.

If there was one area where the D South champions could be attacked, it was through the air. The Warriors couldn’t be pushed around on the line, but pass plays were different. Or so it seemed.

It wasn’t the case Saturday, as Wells completely snuffed out Foxcroft’s high-powered pass game. The Ponies, who averaged 39.9 points per game entering the state final, threw for only 53 yards in the first half as Wells mounted a 34-0 lead, and starting quarterback Nick Clawson completed only six of 26 passes in a dreary outing.

“We had to go at 2:30 (for practice) because of lighting,” coach Tim Roche said. “But they’ll go right out at 2 and start working on pass defense. … They’re out there and they run plays against each other that they know Foxcroft is going to run. And we’ve been doing this for three or four weeks.”

Wells’ run defense strangled the talented Madison ballcarriers in the D South final, but the Bulldogs had been able to pick up chunks of yardage through the air. As Saturday approached, the Warriors became determined to prevent a repeat performance.

“We prepared all week, 7-on-7 before every practice so we know what’s coming,” cornerback Tyler Bridge said. “We look at our mistakes from the past week, look at what they do well, and make sure we stop both of them.”

Bridge, tall for a corner, had the biggest role in determining that. The junior drew the Ponies’ top receiver in Hyatt Smith and shut him down, taking away vertical routes and allowing only three catches for 38 yards while picking off a pair of deep passes.

“He was kind of my guy today,” Bridge said, smiling. “We knew he liked to go deep, so we made sure we stopped that first.”

“We put Tyler on their best player, especially due to the height (advantage),” Roche said. “He did a great job. I thought a couple of times he was beat, but he catches right up.”

• • •

Even in a 48-0 win, there was a moment of suspense for the Wells football team.

It happened early, in the opening minutes with the score tied at zero after the powerful Warriors offense went three-and-out on its first possession. The ball was at the Wells 26-yard line, and disaster seemed to strike when the snap sailed over punter Nolan Potter’s head and skidded just in front of the goal line.

In what could have been a moment of panic, however, Potter, a senior and team leader, kept his cool.

“I didn’t get an ‘uh oh’ feeling,” he said. “You’ve just got to keep your mind straight. You can’t get freaked out about it, because that’s the worst thing you can do.”

Potter backed up those words. In a situation in which many punters would either minimize damage by falling on the ball or kicking it through the end zone for a safety, Potter picked it up and, knowing he had time, calmly kicked the ball away, getting a friendly roll on top of it that put the ball at the 50.

It was as close as the Ponies came to scoring, and two drives later, it was Potter rumbling in from 30 yards out to give Wells its first points of what became a busy afternoon.

“I think it was just our perserverance,” Potter said of the team getting over its early offensive struggles. “Just being able to have the endurance to keep going and keep fighting, because it pays off in the end.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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