Saturday November 15, 2014, was a day to remember for the Windham Varsity Football team. Nothing stopped the fans from claiming a spot on the sidelines. Both teams gathered at Boulos Stadium located on the Cheverus school grounds to watch the Eagles face off against the Cheverus Stages for the Eastern Maine Championship Title.
The Eagles had beaten the Stags 35-7 in week four of the regular season which was a surprise to everyone but the Eagles and Eagle fans since Cheverus had been on a 36 home game winning streak.
Both teams had to face the crisp weather along with a breeze coming off the bay and the ball moved both ways on the field, while challenging each other on both offense and defense plays. After the first half of the game ended the score had Cheverus leading 7-3. When asked why he didn’t go for the first down and instead went for the kick, Windham coach Matt Perkins said, “It wasn’t the right situation and I knew (Dugas) would make the kick. You have to know your players.”
The action and excitement came in the second half of the game. Cheverus scored again, bringing the gap to 14-3 on the scoreboard. However, as seems to be the trait with the Eagle teams, they rallied from a 14-3 deficit going into the fourth quarter. Quaterback Desmond Leslie’s running was a key factor in this game. “We knew we needed to have a third runner if we were going to beat Cheverus. Here’s a kid who started the year with no varsity experience,” said Perkins.
Both teams were hurting by penalties, mostly for holding. Cheverus suffered three costly errors; a high snap on a field-goal attempt, a fumble in the third quarter, and the most costly error, a fumble on the kickoff in the fourth quarter. As Cheverus caught the kickoff he ran into his own player causing him to stumble and be tackled by two Windham players. Griffin Jacobson capitalized by recovering the fumbled ball in touchdown territory, this led to Josh Dugas’ 29-yard field goal that ended up tying the game 14-14 with 5:24 remaining in regulation play, sending this game into overtime.
In overtime, each team gets the ball at the 10-yard line and keeps repeating it until there’s a winner, Windham received possession first and scored easily on Dylan Koza’s run. Dugas’ kick was clear sailing, which made the score 21-14. Cheverus was looking to match the Eagles and force a second overtime. It looked promising when quarterback Isaac Dunn scored a touchdown on the second play. Then came the snap for the field goal attempt. Senior Tanner Laberge came charging in from the left side to get his forearm on the kick and successfully blocking the extra point giving the Eagles the Eastern Maine title with a dramatic 21-20 victory. “We work on our PAT blocks all season. I got a good start on the snap. The ball hit my arm. This feels amazing. I can’t even explain what happened,” said Laberge. “We said beforehand that we had to block it.”
Windham (9-1) will take on Thornton Academy (9-1) in the state final Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland at 11 a.m. Windham will be making its first appearance in the state championship game since defeating Bangor in 2009.