Gardiner’s Cole Brann leaps over Belfast’s Eli Veilleux and Thomas Littlefield into the end zone to score on a two point conversion during a football game Friday in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

GARDINER — Zach Kristan woke up Friday with a vision.

“I couldn’t sleep (Thursday) night,” the Gardiner junior said. “I woke up and I was like, ‘This day is going to be awesome, and I’m going to score a couple touchdowns in the game.'”

His ability to predict awesomeness might be exceeded only by his flair for receiving.

Kristan caught seven catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers mauled Belfast, 43-0, on Friday in Gardiner’s first game at Hoch Field in three years.

Kristan may have had some ESP going with quarterback Wyatt Chadwick, who was 12-for-17 passing for 235 yards and three TDs. In the first quarter, Kristan took Chadwick’s flare pass and galloped 73 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 15-0 lead. Late in the second, Kristan had a pair of 23-yard grabs to set up his more modest 1-yard TD reception to boost Gardiner’s lead to 22-0 at the half.

“He was doing a great job, running all the right routes, crisp routes, catching the ball a lot,” Chadwick said.


Kristan was only happy to return the praise to Chadwick and his teammates.

“Wyatt was putting the ball on the money, our defense was playing amazing, the offensive line was blocking,” Kristan said. “It was a great game all around.”

Gardiner running back Wyatt Chadwick gets tackled by Belfast’s Eli Veilleux in the end zone as he scores the Tigers first TD during a football game Friday in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Chadwick was also lethal on the ground, running for 55 yards on five carries, including a 1-yard bootleg TD run on Gardiner’s opening drive that gave the Tigers an 8-0 first-quarter lead following Cole Brann’s 2-point conversion. Overall, Gardiner held a 385-41 advantage in total yards.

The game was a fitting welcome home for the Tigers (1-1), who hadn’t played in Gardiner since 2019.

The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the 2020 season and the installation of a new turf field at Hoch Field in 2021 forced Gardiner to move its home games to Messalonskee High in Oakland (which hosts Gardiner next weekend). A full house turned out Friday to join in the party, which began in style when the Tigers burst through a giant banner reading “WELCOME HOME TIGERS.”

“It’s wonderful to play at a place like this,” Gardiner coach Pat Munzing said, “with a community that supports us so well, to hear the band and the crowd and the band and the cheerleaders and familiar voice of Sam Shaw on the (public address) microphone. Just being in the comfort of our own place; it’s got a lot of advantages.


“We got talking with most of our kids, and the majority of them have never played a home game here on Friday night. For them to come down and and experience something like this in Tigertown — it’s something they’ll never forget.”

The Gardiner Tigers carry flags as they run onto Hoch Field for their first official football game on the new field turf surface Friday in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The Tigers’ performance Friday should stay in their memory banks for a while. Brann caught Chadwick’s other TD strike, a third-quarter slant pass that he took 78 yards down the right sideline to boost the Tigers’ lead to 28-0. Not content with the TD, Brown picked off Belfast QB Elias Higgins on the very next drive to snuff any hope of a Lion comeback. Other stars included Jack Fleming, who registered a sack, and Chase Burgess, who returned a punt 70 yards for touchdown with 30 seconds left in the third quarter to boost the Tigers’ lead to 35-0.

After Munzing emptied his bench in the fourth quarter, Hunter Burgess capped the proceedings with a 3-yard TD run following four carries by Kyle Doody for 47 yards. Brann completed the scoring when he threw for a 2-point conversion to kicker Theron Corliss, who earlier booted a pair of extra points.

Belfast (0-2), which plays in Class C South (Gardiner is in B North) is a young team in a rebuilding mode after making the playoffs last year. The Lions showed some promise early, converting a pair of fourth downs in the first half (one from their own 17) before the Tigers pulled away.

“We came out a little flat,” Belfast coach Art Fairbrother said.

“We’re a young team and we got down and we lost focus, had few injuries. Better days are ahead, I guess is all I have to say,” he added with a grin.

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