The undefeated No. 1 Crimson Riots didn’t miss a beat on Tuesday evening, sending the No. 4 Houlton Shires packing with a formidable 43-14 win in Orono. The Crimson Riots outscored the Shires 37-0 within the first half, and punched their ticket to their second consecutive 8-player small North regional closing.
Energized by a flamboyant scholar part wearing Halloween costumes — mixed with the normal Orono cowbells coming from the stands — the Crimson Riots dominated the road of scrimmage on each side of the ball, flexing their conference-best offense (51 factors scored per recreation) and protection (11.5 factors allowed per recreation).
Junior utility man Sal Sensible bought Orono on the board in lower than two minutes, capping off a lightning-quick opening drive with a 22-yard landing move from junior quarterback Jack Brewer. It took Orono solely 4 performs to achieve the tip zone and get the gang roaring.
“We’ve got the most effective followers within the Little Ten Convention, and I feel it exhibits,” Sensible mentioned. “It’s Halloween and we had that crowd.”
Orono’s different scoring drives had been simply as quick, with Brewer hitting the speedy Will Francis for catch-and-run touchdowns of 56, 65, and 51 yards. The junior caught all three of his touchdowns within the second quarter.
“Our O-line blocked for us, and Jack put the ball the place he wanted to place it,” Francis mentioned. “I simply go up there and get it.”
Will’s older brother Ben additionally punched in a speeding landing from seven yards out within the first quarter and caught two two-point conversions to assist inflate Orono’s lead earlier than the break. On the opposite aspect of the ball, Ben and Will joined forces with junior Brady Grant, senior Caden Grey and lots of others to mix for six sacks and two compelled fumbles and recoveries as a staff.
The Orono defensive entrance overpowered Houlton’s O-line all recreation, however the elusive Isaiah Ervin nonetheless managed to make some unbelievable performs for the Shires within the second half. The cell junior quarterback scrambled for 156 yards and two touchdowns within the recreation.
“Ervin’s a worm, props to him,” Grey mentioned. “He’s an amazing participant. You simply gotta discover the place he’s and maintain on.”
With a 35-point lead and working time within the second half, the Crimson Riots’ offense was solely capable of take the sphere for thirty seconds or so, however rapidly transformed on a 35-yard landing move to senior vast out Pierce Walston.
Final yr’s Crimson Riot offense was equally spectacular, averaging 54.8 factors scored per recreation throughout their five-game profitable streak. Orono’s closing victory was towards No. 2 Stearns/Schenck 57-36 within the regional closing, earlier than falling to Previous Orchard Seashore within the state closing 46-22.
This Saturday, the Crimson Riots will host Millinocket on this yr’s iteration of the 8-player small North regional closing, and can try to cease a red-hot Minutemen squad in its tracks. Stearns/Schenck has now received seven video games in a row and simply beat No. 2 Bucksport away 46-14 within the different regional semifinal recreation.
“It should create an attention-grabbing matchup,” Orono head coach Bob Sinclair mentioned. “[Millinocket’s] a very good, stable soccer staff. They’ll be hungry, and are well-coached. They need this championship recreation as a lot as we do.”
Two years in the past, being within the place to host a regional championship recreation would have been unthinkable for Orono. The Crimson Riots went winless in 2021, and ended final yr’s marketing campaign with an sudden regional championship run because the No. 5 seed. This yr although, the playoffs undergo Orono.