DOVER-FOXCROFT — Late-season matchups against Foxcroft have become all too familiar for the Bucksport football team — and not for the right reasons.
In each of the past two seasons, Bucksport has seen a promising campaign come to an end with a loss to Foxcroft in the Class D North title game. Between being shut out 34-0 in Dover-Foxcroft two years ago and allowing nearly 500 yards of offense last year in a 43-26 loss, the Golden Bucks have retained few fond memories from recent battles with the Ponies.
“They’ve embarrassed us the last two years,” senior offensive lineman David Gross said. “It hasn’t even been close.”
So strong has been Bucksport’s desire to get back at Foxcroft this season, Gross said, that the Golden Bucks have had the date of this year’s game posted all over the weight room for weeks. No, there wasn’t a regional title at stake this time, but for Bucksport, letting out two years’ worth of frustration was certainly fulfilling.
Bucksport finished off a perfect regular season Friday night with a 53-0 road victory over Foxcroft in Little Ten Conference play. The win saw the Golden Bucks pour on the points in the first half to end a five-game losing streak against the Ponies dating back to October 2012.
“There was some extra motivation for us, absolutely,” wide receiver Logan Stanley said. “They’ve killed us, and we wanted it to be our turn this time. This one means a lot to all of us.”
Bucksport marched right down the field to begin the game and took a 7-0 lead when Jaxon Gross barreled through three Foxcroft defenders for a touchdown with 6 minutes, 58 seconds left in the first quarter. The Golden Bucks (7-0) would score again three minutes later as a touchdown run from Josh Miller extended the lead to 13-0.
Foxcroft (3-5) failed to move the ball on its ensuing possession and gave Bucksport tremendous field position with 3:11 left in the first quarter after a failed fake punt. The Golden Bucks made it 21-0 moments later with a 16-yard touchdown run from Miller and a 2-point pass from Brady Findlay to Cam Soper.
After a slow start to the second quarter, Bucksport got a 3-yard touchdown run from Gross to make the score 28-0 with 3:17 left in the half. The Golden Bucks then got touchdowns in rapid succession from Soper (23-yard fumble return), Gross (4-yard run) and Stanley (7-yard pass from Findlay) to head to the break with 47-0 lead.
The only second-half points came less than two minutes after kickoff as Stanley returned an interception 45 yards for a score. The interception was the third of the game for Stanley, who Bucksport head coach Joel Sankey believes has flown under the radar this year.
“Our team has a lot of talented players, and I think what happens a lot of the time is that Logan gets overlooked,” Sankey said. “He’s quick and has great instincts on the ball and great hands. I think he’s one of the best receivers and defensive backs in our league.”
Bucksport entered Friday night’s game coming off a bye resulting from Orono’s cancellation of its varsity season. Getting two full weeks to prepare for Foxcroft instead of having to spend Week 7 getting ready for the Red Riots made the Golden Bucks even more ready to avenge their past defeats.
Those two weeks of practices were particularly intense for the Golden Bucks, who had to come back from a 14-0 deficit in their previous game against Oak Hill. Bucksport players and coaches were unhappy with the practices leading up to that game, and after avoiding a major scare, the team vowed to take it up a notch to ensure there would be no complacency.
“I’d say we’ve been going 10 times harder,” Stanley said. “We didn’t want that to happen again, and we’ve stepped up since then and made sure we’re 100 percent locked in and focused.”
Friday’s game also marked the first time since Bucksport’s season opener that team manager Jocelyn Tozier was able to travel to an away game. Tozier missed four games as a result of a Sept. 7 car accident that left her hospitalized, but her presence the rest of the year will be a source of inspiration for the Golden Bucks.
“It’s awesome that she’s there talking with us, high-fiving us and doing what she can do,” David Gross said. “She’s in a lot of pain, but she’s here and getting us going and not letting us slack off. We’re all pumped she can be here.”
The shutout was the fourth of the year for Bucksport, which outscored opponents by a combined 287-27 margin in the regular season. The top-ranked Golden Bucks will host a Class D North semifinal game in two weeks.
That game could pit Bucksport in a rematch with fifth-ranked Foxcroft, which will battle No. 4 Houlton (4-4) at 7 p.m. next Friday, Nov. 1, in Aroostook County. No matter which team comes to Bucksport, the Golden Bucks know their real season is just getting started.
“We haven’t won anything yet,” Gross said. “We have nothing right now that’s going to mark us down in the history books, and other teams are going to come after us because they want it just as much as we do. It’s our job to realize that every day.”
Eagles beat GNG to clinch 8-man playoffs; Trojans eliminated
Ellsworth/Sumner booked its place in the eight-man playoffs Friday night with a 44-30 road victory over Gray-New Gloucester.
The game was a back-and-forth affair between the two teams with the Patriots staying within striking distance of the Eagles despite trailing the entire game. Although Gray-New Gloucester (1-7) cut Ellsworth/Sumner’s lead to 36-30 with 4:36 to play, the Eagles responded with their sixth touchdown of the game before stopping a last-ditch drive from the host team to close out the win.
Senior Connor Crawford rushed for 274 yards and four touchdowns for the Eagles, who produced 518 yards of offense as a team. Noah Hughes had a big game defensively with eight solo tackles and nine assisted tackles.
The win avenged Ellsworth/Sumner’s 50-44 loss to Gray-New Gloucester on Sept. 13. Whereas the Eagles (3-5) were missing a number of starters in that defeat to the Patriots, the team was down just one player, senior J’Von James, this time as it won an elimination game to clinch its second postseason berth in three years.
“This was a win-and-you’re-in game, and our guys came out and played with a sense of urgency,” head coach Duane Crawford said. “I’m really proud of the way they stuck with it. It’s great for these kids to get to play another game. I’m really happy for them.”
Ellsworth/Sumner will play on the road against No. 1 Maranacook (8-0) in the large-school semifinals at 6:30 p.m. next Friday. Maranacook beat the Eagles 22-12 when the teams met Oct. 4 in Readfield.
Elsewhere Friday night, Mount Desert Island’s season came to an end with a 28-18 loss to Belfast (5-3) in Bar Harbor. The Trojans (1-7) ended the year on a seven-game losing streak.