Houlton football ousts Dexter

By Sam Canfield, Bangor Daily News Staff

Maine high school football gave us an appealing slate of games this past weekend, with eight-player large and small kicking off their playoff circuits, and Classes B, C and D playing their regular season finales.

Teams officially have no losses to give, and fans are on the edge of their seats. Here is a recap of the action.

No. 4 Houlton/Hodgon beats No. 5 Dexter/Piscataquis at home, 26-22

Dexter at Houlton was the most interesting regional quarterfinal game in eight-player small North this weekend, featuring two teams with very different paths to their 4-3 records.

Dexter was last year’s undefeated No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs, while the Shires finished 1-6 and were knocked out in the first round. But this year’s Houlton team is flipping the script, edging out the Tigers for its first playoff win in program history.

Houlton’s offense went off in the first half, with junior quarterback Isaiah Ervin running for touchdowns of 52, 7 and 3 yards, and senior wide receiver Bronson Hanning returning a kickoff for 82 yards and a touchdown. 

Unfortunately for Houlton, Dexter’s defense forced three failed two-point conversions, and Dexter’s offense kept the Tigers right on Houlton’s tail. Led by senior backs Zakary Adams and Holdyn Gunther, Dexter orchestrated scoring drives of 11 plays and 14 plays, respectively, converting on fourth down twice in the process.

“It was pretty nerve wracking,” Houlton first-year head coach David Day said. “But the kids are peaking at the right time.”

Up 26-16 at halftime, the Shires were unable to score in the second half, but their defense held on for the victory. Houlton forced a punt, as well as a turnover on downs in the red zone, to help secure the program’s first playoff win.

“The second half was a battle in the trenches by both defenses,” Day said. 

Next up, Houlton will travel to Orono this Friday to take on the undefeated Red Riots. Orono was last year’s regional champion as the No. 5 seed, and is this year’s No. 1 seed.

No. 2 Bucksport beats No. 7 Ellsworth/Sumner at home, 60-6

This battle between the Hancock County neighbors was blown open by the Golden Bucks early on, who bounced back from an unexpected 24-22 loss to Dexter in Week 7. Up until that point, 5-2 Bucksport had been averaging 43.6 points per game, including a 48-34 win over Ellsworth in Week 5, and flexed this firepower on Friday.

Leading the way for the Golden Bucks was senior quarterback Ayden Maguire, who threw for 324 yards and six touchdowns on 13-for-20 passing. His chemistry with wide receivers Connor Fitch and Gavin Holyoke was on display, with the trio accounting for 217 yards and five touchdowns, on 13 total targets and seven completions. 

Maguire also ran for 99 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, complementing senior Kam Webber’s 65 yards and 12 carries.

“Sometimes a loss does not hurt as much as one would think,” head coach Sean Geagan said. “The kids bounced back very well and they know that it is the playoffs — there is no tomorrow if you don’t leave it all on the field.”

Next up, Bucksport will host No. 3 Stearns/Schenck, who was also 5-2 this regular season. The Millinocket squad lost to Bucksport 30-12 in Week 1, but is currently on a six-game win streak.

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