Waterville tops Dexter in two programs’ 8-man debut

DEXTER — Following the cancellation of Maine high school tackle football at all divisions in 2020, the Dexter Regional High School football team had to wait another year for its inaugural game as an 8-man program. Waterville High School also had the same wait after switching from 11 players following the conclusion of the 2019 season.

The Purple Panthers, who are playing in the 8-man large school class, ended up having the better start as the team earned a 60-24 week one victory over small school division member Dexter on the afternoon of Sept. 4.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
FIRST TOUCHDOWN OF THE SEASON — Senior quarterback Avery Gagnon scrambles for a 13-yard touchdown in the first quarter of Dexter’s 2021 opener vs. Waterville on Sept. 4. The visiting Purple Panthers won the game 60-24.

On the first play from scrimmage, Waterville sophomore Dawson Harrison took the handoff on a counter 64 yards for the touchdown and the 2-point conversion put the team ahead 8-0.

Dexter responded by moving the football 64 yards in seven plays to the opposition’s 13-yard line. On first down senior quarterback Avery Gagnon kept the football on an option to the left, and he snuck inside the pylon for the first Tiger touchdown of 2021. The 2-point pass fell incomplete as Waterville led 8-6.

Both teams added another touchdown each in the opening quarter, Dexter’s came on a 3-yard rush by junior Kayden Kimball to make the score 16-12. Kimball led the Tigers with 66 yards on the ground, coming on eight carries.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
CAPTURED PURPLE PANTHER — Waterville senior Liam Von Oesen is wrapped up by Dexter senior Gage Sinclair, left, and junior Caden Brown during the second quarter on Sept. 4.

Early in the second quarter Dexter again followed a Waterville score with a trip to the end zone of the team’s own.  

Gagnon brought the kickoff to the Waterville-37 and senior Cam Allen then gained seven yards. At the 30-yard line, junior Bryce Connor bounced off left tackle and he ran down the left sideline for the touchdown. 

The ensuing 2-point attempt on the ground came up short to keep the score 22-18. Dexter would end up 0-for-4 on conversion tries, whereas Waterville was 6-of-8.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
RUSHING ATTACK — Senior Cam Allen looks to get around Waterville sophomore Wyatt Gradie during the third quarter.

Purple Panther quarterback Liam Von Oesen had a big game, rushing for 249 yards in 13 carries for three touchdowns while also going 4-of-6 in his pass attempts for 135 yards and two of his team’s other eight touchdowns to junior tight end Tyson Smith. Both of these scores on the ground came in the second quarter. Von Oesen rushed for 26- and 44-yard touchdowns, and followed both these with additional trips across the goal line for two each time as his team led 38-18 at the half.

Dexter’s third touchdown came late in the third quarter. From the Waterville-1, junior Will Kusnierz dove across the goal line and in to make the game a 46-24 contest at that point.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
DOWN THE NEAR THE GOAL LINE — Hauling in a 27-yard reception over the reach of Waterville sophomore Dawson Harrison is Tiger junior Bryce Connor to the Purple Panther 4-yard line.

Dexter will have a bye this coming weekend after Washington Academy of East Machias canceled its season. The next game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25 vs. Houlton High School (1-0). The Aroostook County team, which is a cooperative program with Hodgdon High School, Southern Aroostook Community School of Dyer Brook and Greater Houlton Christian Academy, joined the Tigers in making the switch to 8-man football.


Waterville 60

Dexter 24

WAT  16  22  8  14  60

DEX  12  6  6  0  24

First: W — Harrison 64 yds

(Von Oesen rush)

D — Gagnon 13 yds (pass fail)

W — Hubbard 1 yd 

(Von Oesen rush)

D — Kimball 3 yds (rush fail)

Second: W — Smith 55 yds from

Von Oesen (pass fail)

D — Connor 30 yds (rush fail)

W — Von Oesen 26 yds 

(Von Oesen rush)

W — Von Oesen 44 yds 

(Von Oesen rush)

Third: W — Smith 44 yds from

Von Oesen (Von Oesen rush)

D — Kusnierz 1 yd (pass fail)

Fourth: W — Von Oesen 59 yds

(Harrison rush)

W — Harrison 20 yds (rush fail)

Passing: D — Gagnon 3-of-6 

69 yds Int; Spratt 0-of-1 Int

W — Von Oesen 4-of-6

135 yds 2 TD; Gradie 0-of-0

Receiving: D — Kusnierz 2,

42 yds; Connor 1, 27 yds

W — Smith 2, 99 yds 2 TD;

Minihan 1, 24 yds;

Gradie 1, 12 yds

Rushing: D — Kimball 8,

66 yds TD; Connor 7, 47

yds TD; Gagnon 9, 

45 yds TD; Allen 9, 44 yds; 

Kusnierz 3, 21 yds TD;

Ponte 1, 2 yds; Schobel 1,

0 yds; Spratt 2 -2 yds

W — Von Oesen 13, 249

yds 2 TD; Harrison 4,

117 yds 2 TD; Smith 4,

62 yds; Place 8, 44 yds;

Gradie 6, 16 yds; Hubbard

2, 1 yd TD

Records: D 0-1

W 1-0

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