High school football

Oceanside finally realizes a bit of payback against MDI

Trojans had Mariner playoff number in recent years, but visitors take road regular-season opener
By Mark Haskell | Sep 03, 2018

Bar Harbor — For the past three seasons, the Oceanside high school football team’s playoff hopes were dashed in road games at Mount Desert Island.

So coach Wes Drinkwater and the Mariners had Friday night, Aug. 31 circled on their calendars for some time as they traveled back to the same venue nine months prior, and exercised demons in their season-opener against the Trojans.

The Mariners got superb individual efforts on both sides of the ball from seniors Ben Ripley and Zach Cody — and had several younger players step up in key roles — as the visitors rolled to a 40-30 victory.

Drinkwater, who was 0-5 in his coaching career against the Trojans prior to Friday, said he was “very happy with the results” and “it’s much better coming back from MDI with a win.”

“I was proud of the young guys on this team,” said Drinkwater. “We had kids that had to step up before their time and every day they get better. They are learning to go with the flow in the chaos that comes with high school football.”

Of course, the upperclassmen did their share — and then some — in Friday’s win, particularly Cody and Ripley as the duo combined for all 40 of the team’s points.

Cody rushed for 167 yards and caught three passes for the Mariners, along with a rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown, a two-point conversion rush, a two-point conversion catch and an onside kick return for a score on the final play of the game.

Ripley amassed 207 rushing yards on 16 carries and three touchdowns, along with 20 yards receiving for the visitors.

Mike Yates also rushed for 24 yards on eight carries, while quarterback Karl Ilvonen completed three passes for 95 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions for Oceanside.

“I don’t think we try to hide what we are doing,” said Drinkwater. “We run the ball downhill with Rip and try to get Zach loose on sweeps and counters and use his speed in the passing game. We have other pieces to add to the offense, but we want to make sure our foundation is firmly set.”

Drinkwater said Oceanside has four sophomores starting on both sides of the ball, notably Finnegan Lynch and Aiden Munro at cornerback.

“For a defense that puts stress on the corners by asking them to roll man coverage most of the time with usually no safety help over the top, they are coming along nicely," the coach said.

Leading the Oceanside defense were Ripley (14 solo tackles, 3 quarterback sacks), Cody (6 tackles, 2 sacks), Trevor Reed (5 tackles), Thomas Coombs (5 tackles, 2 pass deflections), Chris Carroll (4 tackles, sack), Michel Schmidt (3 tackles), Lynch (3 tackles), Munro (3 tackles) and Jacob Curtis (3 tackles).

The familiar opponents had different looks on the sidelines as each graduated many topnotch starters, including the likes of Mike Norton Jr., Titus Kaewthong, Jack Freeman, Kirt Ilvonen and Oliver Vanorse-Jones for Oceanside, along with Croix Albee and Colby Lee for MDI. The Trojans also have a new coach this season in Mark Arnold after longtime coach Mark Shields stepped down in the offseason.

“MDI played very well for a team that has gone through a coaching change and losing a great senior class,” said Drinkwater. “But they returned a very good offensive line and a big strong running back that gave us problems. Fortunately, we role with a two-headed monster at running back in Ripley and Cody.”

The game was tied 8-8 at halftime. Drinkwater said his team made adjustments at halftime “and they worked well.”

“We stopped their linebackers from pursuing so fast with some false pulling, and we got Zack and Ben to the edge where they are just too hard to bring down.”

Drinkwater added that Carroll — at 6-feet-2-inches and 230 pounds — “was a monster” at left guard on Friday.

“He’s as rugged as can be,” he said. “He can fly and he has a feel for getting out in front of guys with good angles of attack on who he blocks.”

The game was tied 16-16 after three quarters, but the Mariner defense made a few key stops, Ripley and Cody had significant gains and Meklin converted a fourth-and-9 from the 45-yard line to keep an Oceanside scoring drive alive.

MDI made things interesting with a late score to make it a one possession game, but Cody scooped up an onside kick attempt by the hosts and took it to the house as time expired.

Drinkwater added that the coaching additions of Tim Carroll, Tyler Patterson and Andrew Redden — along with junior varsity coach Dave Marchessault — have been welcome additions for the Mariners.

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