It’s Bangor week for Oxford Hills. Ah, Bangor. It’s the drive that can make some teams, broadcasters, media, and coaches go nuts. Some like the long quiet stretches of moose swamps. Others try to nap for two hours and get it over with.
My goal each time I get to Bangor is to get there as quickly as possible. One fall Friday back in 2011, in the Maine Sports Network era, we were faced with rain like we are now, just a messy scenario. Games were being cancelled left and right, and one of the few games on the docket was Lewiston at Bangor.
We had a Gorham/Massabesic game scheduled, but after being told that in all likelihood it was going to be postponed, we made the executive decision to change the game to Lewiston at Bangor. (Fun fact: the Gorham/Massabesic game was not cancelled, and the final score was Gorham 63 Massabesic 47)
I left the Time and Temperature building in Portland at 3:02 PM, picked up equipment in Oxford, and headed to the B. Arrived at 5:40 and was on the air at 6::30. Bangor routed the Blue Devils in a personal foul/swamp fest, but it did show me that Bangor isn’t as far away as it seems.
Best Bangor memory: Oxford Hills 22-15 win over the Rams in 2012. The Vikings, who were led by UMaine’s Dexter Turner, current UMF Beaver Jordan Croteau, and St Joe’s Ryan Godin (the latter two play baseball in college); they never had much success in Bangor. By now I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase that no one ever gets any calls in Bangor if they are from the southern part of the state. I always felt this was the typical bunk that people came up with when their team wasn’t good enough to beat a consistent Rams squad. On this October night, though, the calls were certainly not going the Vikings way.
In the third quarter, with the Vikings leading 14-9, Ryan Godin faked the hand off to the running back (read-option style, which you see all the time now, even in the NFL). The defense, the broadcast booth (myself included), everyone thought he handed it off, so he took off towards the end-zone untouched, ball in hand. It was a brilliant fake. The problem: the officials had also been fooled and had blown the play dead when the runner they thought who had the ball got tackled. It’s a gaffe, but it’s an understandable gaffe if it happens once.
On the very next play, Oxford Hills ran the same read option again. Once again, Godin faked the hand off, kept it, and took off with nothing but wet grass and the end zone in front of him. After he gained 8 yards and was in no danger of being caught or tackled, the whistle blew. Again. The officials were once again fooled by the hand-off, blowing the play dead after they thought the running back had been tackled, even though the quarterback was streaking down field. To add insult to injury, Bangor went ahead late on a touchdown pass (which could have been argued as offensive pass interference, but apparently the officials were still looking for the ball from the earlier runs and missed it).
The Vikings marched down the field and won on a late Godin touchdown run (yes, they saw that he had the ball that time) so no harm, no foul. It certainly did strengthen the “road teams don’t calls in Bangor” motif, though.
There’s no telling what will happen this week. Bangor has bounced back after an off-year last year, while Oxford Hills, led by their tough defense, has been much improved this year. If Bangor wins, odds are the two teams will be back at it again on Halloween in the first round of the playoffs. So I’d make sure you keep your eyes on the ball for this one! (cue the rimshot)
You can listen to that 2012 classic here: http://goo.gl/QU8peH