Sep. 30—The Maine high school football season has, for the most part, reached the midway point.
That makes this the perfect time for a midseason report for the Sun Journal's coverage area.
There are a few players from the area who are threats to score whenever they touch the ball, no matter how far from the end zone they are. That seems like an exaggeration, but it wasn't during the first four weeks for Lewiston's Eli Bigelow, Spruce Mountain's Reece Davis and Mountain Valley's Robert Leveillee.
Leveille opened the season with a seven-touchdown performance in Mountain Valley's win over Telstar. All but one of those seven scoring plays was 30 yards or longer, and four were from beyond 50 yards away. COVID-19 kept him from playing in Week 2, and he was held to one score in Week 3, but last week he returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a score and had a 58-yard touchdown run.
In the Phoenix's past two games, Davis has carried the ball 43 times for 549 yards (12.8 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns. He's been next-level the entire season. The first two weeks were full of big plays that went for six points.
Sure, Leveillee and Davis play 8-man football. Before moving to Maine, I covered several programs that have been playing 8-man since the 1970s (they also played on full-size fields, unlike here). So I can say with some amount of knowledge that what Leveillee and Davis are doing isn't common, even for 8-man football.
Bigelow, meanwhile, has scored four touchdowns in each of Lewiston's two wins. He has 11 for the season, including 81-, 76- and 74- yard runs and a 68-yard punt return. Only one of his TDs was from less than 30 yards out. For the season, Bigelow has 29 carries for 641 yards (22.1 yards per carry), nine rushing touchdowns, a receiving TD and a punt returned for a score.
It's too early to say that Lewiston and Edward Little are back, that they are contenders, or to make any predictions about how this season will end up for either team.
However, they have shown this year that competing in Class A isn't impossible. Since it was decided in 2019 that the state's largest class should only have eight teams, three or four teams have been contending for championships while the other four or five have tried to rebuild while being blown out by the state's biggest and best teams.
Last week, Lewiston and Edward Little faced two of those traditional contenders. The Blue Devils throttled Scarborough 39-7. The Red Eddies couldn't hold a 40-14 lead over Bonny Eagle, they lost 52-48, but the Eddies made their point.
It's too early to say that Class A isn't as strong as usual, but, either way, the Twin Cities' two football schools should at least know that the gap between them and the top isn't as far as it has seemed.
Lisbon's win over Foxcroft last week hints that the Class D playoffs might be more wide open than in 2021, when the entire season seemed to be leading up to a Foxcroft-vs.-Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale title-game clash.
The Greyhounds (2-2) showed last week that they will be, as usual, a pain for other Class D teams to face in the postseason. They made the long trip to Dover-Foxcroft and ended the Ponies' 13-game win streak. Lisbon controlled the ball and kept the high-powered Foxcroft offense off the field, and the Greyhounds didn't succumb to frustration when their long drives in the first two-plus quarters came up empty. Also, the defense stepped up at the end, especially the defensive line, which shut down the Ponies' potential go-head drive in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Foxcroft falls to 3-1, but has a win over Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale (2-1) on its resume. The Ramblers are looking strong, again. Freeport (3-1) looks like it will be a force. Poland (3-1) is flying under the radar but has won three straight since falling to Class C Fryeburg in the opener. That win streak includes dealing John Bapst (3-1) its only loss. Oak Hill (1-3) is young but appears to be finding itself.
Leavitt has rolled through the first four games of its schedule. So far, no team has been able to contend with the Hornets. Not Class A Lewiston, not Class B Portland, and not regional foes York and Wells, who suffered their only losses of the season to Leavitt by a combined score of 86-0.
The remainder of the Hornets' schedule includes four more quality opponents: Class B Lawrence (2-2) on Friday and C South contenders Cape Elizabeth (3-1), the defending Class C state champ, Cheverus (3-1) and Fryeburg (2-2).
Oxford Hills has taken control of Class A in a way that not many would have predicted before the season, and that fewer would have anticipated if they had known starting quarterback Eli Soehren and Lincoln Merrill — key players on offense and defense — were going to miss games due to injuries.
But, Soehren's replacement, Brady Truman, has led Oxford Hills (4-0) past Thornton, Sanford and Portland. It has become clear how loaded with talent the Vikings are beyond Soehren, the 2021 Gatorade Maine Player of the Year. Merrill returned last week and turned a short pass into a 58-yard TD, Teigan Pelletier and Tanner Bickford are big receivers who are always threats to make big plays, and the offensive and defensive lines, led by players like Zach Louvat and Mekhi Hill, have been strong. Running backs Trey Morrison, Hunter Tardiff and Jake Carson have made important contributions. The list could go on.
The Vikings have been the quickest of last year's semifinalists — Thornton (2-2), Bonny Eagle (3-1) and Scarborough (2-2) — to reload, and the rest of Class A has five weeks to try to catch up. And Oxford Hills has five weeks to try to widen the gap.