All season, the Troy Howard Middle School football squad flirted with and then delivered perfection during the recently-concluded Eastern Maine Middle School Football League campaign.

The young Lions finished 8-0 in official league play, but 9-0 if an exhibition with Washington Academy of East Machias is included. On Oct. 25, THMS capped its perfect season with a 30-0 victory over Warsaw Middle School, which feeds into Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield.

After beating Brewer, Hermon, Five Town (Camden-Rockport), Oceanside (Rockland-Thomaston), Bangor, Mount Desert Island, Washington Academy and Bucksport previously, the Lions were 8-0 when they stepped on the field to face host Warsaw.

The Lions understood they had to remain focused in order to finish the campaign undefeated. The Lions did that with an easy win over Warsaw, as all THMS players got an opportunity to see action on the field.

The Lions had set a goal, before the season, of going undefeated, thus were proud of their ultimate accomplishment.

Led by coaches Stanley Sturgis and Adam Michaud, the Lions began practices in August and it was clear from the beginning THMS would experience a strong season. From the first touchdown run in by Lucien Gordley-Smith to the final score forced in by Tristan Roberts, the Lions took no game for granted.

Every contest presented challenges and, on each occasion, the Lions were able to adjust their game plan to defeat their opponent. Every player contributed en route to a 9-0 record. Whether it was six perfect snaps in one game by Doyle Bailey or the five quarterback sacks recorded by Rory Ambrose, each Lion played a role in helping the talented team experience success.

Some of the notable accomplishments were the efforts of team’s three top running backs. Lucien Gordley-Smith finished with 175 rushing yards and Andrew Goguen 260 yards. Leading the pack, however, was Alex Canning, who rushed for an eye-opening 1,003 yards.

Thirteen different players scored touchdowns for the Lions. Alex Canning led the group with 17 TDs. Collecting four TDs were Marlin Hansen and Andrew Goguen. The Lions who had two TDs were Lucien Gordley-Smith, Derrick Tyler and Emery Dinsmore. Contributing a TD each were Drew Nealey, Tyler McCleod, Alex Fritz, Shane Alley, Doyle Bailey and Tristan Roberts.

Adding to the offensive attack was Marlin Hansen with 22 successful kicked field goals.

On the defense, the Lions had 11 interceptions. Leading the team was Drew Nealey with five, followed by Zach Darres and Lucien Gordley-Smith each with two and Emery Dinsmore and Alex Fritz both one.

Helping keep the opponents’ scores low were tackles made by the Lions. Atop the leader board were Alex Canning and Marlin Hansen, each with 43 tackles. Hansen also had three quarterback sacks. Craig Brown finished with 29 tackles and two sacks; Rory Ambrose, 28 tackles and five sacks; Billy Pantoja, 21 tackles and a sack; and Tyler McCleod, 11 tackles and a sack.

Andrew Goguen contributed 30 tackles, while Lucien Gordley-Smith added depth in blocking and had 25 tackles. Other players with double-digit tackles were Ben Robson, Alex Fritz, Emery Dinsmore, Edwin Johnson, Drew Nealey and Shane Alley.

“Our success is directly relative to the talent and desire to win,” said coach Michaud. “In conjunction with that, they are coachable players. Most of our wins came upon us due to adjustments the players made during the games, which can be overwhelming. Ultimately, it’s talent, teachability and respect that enabled us to realize our goal.”

Click here to reach Beth Anne Gordley’s photo site, where there are many other photos from the season to view and purchase.

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