GARDINER – The Gardiner Area High School Class of 1973 may have celebrated its 50th anniversary during pregame Friday night, but the rest of the evening at Hoch Field belonged to a youth movement.

The Gardiner football team rolled to a 20-0 win over Falmouth at Hoch Field. Defense was key for the Tigers (2-1), who forced three turnovers out of the Navigators (0-3). Sophomore Owen Chadwick had two sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery for the Tigers, while junior Evan Ahearn had an interception.

“A lot of hard work at practice paid off,” Chadwick said. “The coaching staff really helped us out (this week).”

“We preach to the team every week, we don’t know who it’s going to be, but we need someone to step up and make plays,” Gardiner head coach Pat Munzing said. “When it’s your time and your play, it’s your turn to step up and everybody on the team is counting on you to do your job.”

Youth played a role in the kicking game as well, as sophomore Brayden Elliot had a 40-yard punt return that eventually set up Gardiner’s second score of the game, giving the Tigers a 14-0 halftime lead.

Gardiner’s Zach Kristan is pulled out of bounds by Falmouth’s Ben Robbins as teammate Abram Wintersteen leaps to get out of his way during a football game Friday at Hoch Field in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“That (return) was huge, that was a big momentum swing there,” Munzing said.


Junior quarterback Chase Burgess led the Gardiner offense with 171 total yards (101 rushing, 70 passing). He had two touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown.

“Coming off the (loss to Messalonskee) last week, it felt great to get a nice win,” Burgess said. “I think it’s going to carry us on the rest of the season.”

After forcing a fumble out of Falmouth’s Abram Wintersteen, Gardiner needed to travel just 20 yards for its first score. Burgess hit senior receiver Zach Kristan on a slant for a 10-yard touchdown. Asher Nagy’s extra point gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

On the ensuing possession, Falmouth quarterback Tres Walker hit a deep pass to receiver Tony Severino for 53 yards. But two plays later, Walker threw to the end zone on a corner route and was picked off by Ahearn for a touchback.

“It’s great having a good defense,” Burgess said. “It seems like we have great chemistry right now. We’re running our defenses right and just making plays out there.”

Gardiner’s second touchdown came late in the first half. Burgess was chased out of the pocket by Falmouth lineman Will Gale, but was able to turn the corner, head up the field and score on a 15-yard run for a 14-0 lead.


The Tigers’ final touchdown came in the third quarter, when Burgess hit Kyle Doody for a 10-yard score to make it 20-0.

Falmouth relied heavily on junior running back Indi Backman, who had 81 yards on 24 carries. The Navigators nearly scored on their final drive, getting inside the Gardiner 5 yard line. After three straight incompletions, Backman ran up the middle on fourth down, but only get 4  yards, as the Gardiner defense stopped just short of the goal line.

“It’s great to know your (defensive) teammates have your back,” Chadwick said.

Falmouth had 202 offensive yards, while Gardiner had 192.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.