UNION — It has been a strange season for Midcoast middle school football teams as schools have had to deal with the ongoing and unpredicable pandemic, as well as seemingly weekly changes to schedules, but after not being able to play for a long time, young student-athletes, coaches and fans are happy to again be able to tackle one of their favorite contact sports.

That excitement was palpable on Tuesday, Oct. 12 as Medomak of Waldoboro and Troy Howard of Belfast embroiled in a back-and-forth barnburner at Union Elementary/D.R. Gaul School.

Scene from Troy Howard at Medomak on Oct. 12 in Eastern Maine Middle School Football League play in Union. The host Riverhawks beat the Lions 20-18. Photo by Mark Haskell

When the dust settled, the host Riverhawks had pulled out a last-minute, 20-18 victory in the thrilling Eastern Maine Middle School Football League contest.

The league has an 11-player division, which includes teams from Bangor, Belfast (Troy Howard), Brewer, Bucksport, Dover-Foxcroft, Hampden, Hermon, Waldoboro (Medomak), Newport (Nokomis), Thomaston (Oceanside) and Old Town, and eight-player division, which includes Ellsworth, Camden-Rockport-Hope-Appleton-Lincolnville (Five Town), Houlton, Lincoln (Mattanawcook), Mount Desert Island, Thorndike (Mount View), Orono, Dexter (Ridge View), Millinocket (Stearns) and Pittsfield (Warsaw).

Scene from Troy Howard at Medomak on Oct. 12 in Eastern Maine Middle School Football League play in Union. The host Riverhawks beat the Lions 20-18. Photo by Mark Haskell

Tuesday’s game was knotted 6-6 after one quarter and the visiting Lions led 12-6 at halftime. Medomak took a 13-12 advantage after three quarters, before the Lions scored to take a 18-13 edge.

Troy Howard appeared to seal the victory with an interception with 2:04 left, but the Riverhawks got the ball back and converted a touchdown on a long pass and one-point conversion in the final 35 seconds.

For Medomak, Wyatt Simmons collected a TD on a quarterback sneak, while Owen Dostie had a nine-yard rushing score, Wyatt Simmons one-point conversion and Dostie completed a long pass to Grady Pease for a TD. There also was another point-after conversion.

For the Lions, Brian Lemar finished with two rushing TDs and Jack Faulkingham another score for the visitors.

The Lions include Ben Milliken, Brady Balicki, Brain Lemar, Caysen Leach, Cohon Rahkonen, Damien Pyle, Dawson Tripp, Domidie Simpson, Jackson Faulkingham, James Williams, Jeremiah Cole, Justin Massey, Luke Littlefield, Mike Box, Rhys Greeley, Shane Carson, Tristin Brain, Wyatt Foy, Judson Colby, Sam Kirkpatrick, Chris Gordon, Dalton Hustus, Connor Wood, Mike Delong and Adam Robson.

The Riverhawks include Ashton Kunesh Lowe, Owen Dostie, Austin Wilshire, Kayden Johnson, Grayson Downing, Gage Austin, Grady Pease, Cole Bales, Shamus Pease, Maximus McCabe, Wyatt Simmons, Liam Feeley, Shane Simmons, Alden Reed, Logan Vigue, Kollin Donlin, Jackson Simmons, Claudia Feeley, Keith Miller and Kaiden Quinn.

Scene from Troy Howard at Medomak on Oct. 12 in Eastern Maine Middle School Football League play in Union. The host Riverhawks beat the Lions 20-18. Photo by Mark Haskell