We might have a new leader in the clubhouse for best sports story of the year in our state.
The remarkable University of Maine Football season is the stuff of legend. It’s a season that local fans will talk about for years to come. And there could still be some playoff wins still to come.
The Black Bears, coming off a disappointing four win campaign, were picked in the preseason poll to finish near the bottom of the conference. Whats more, Maine played only four home games all year, one of the only teams in the country to be so scarcely viewed by home fans.
Yet they were a perfect 4-0 in those games.
On the beautiful Maine night in August, the Black Bears dismantle rival UNH, a team that has not rented or leased, but owned the Black Bears for more than a decade. The musket is in its northern home away from home.
UMaine split with the “big boy” teams in their pay day games, including coming from 21-0 down to beat Western Kentucky.
Historically, game winning field goals have been as rare as Big Foot sightings in Orono. Not this year. Kenny Doak nailed them in back to back weeks to beat Villanova and Rhode Island. The thrilling Nova kick was 52 yards and tied the school record for longest make field goal ever by a Maine kicker! Thats more than 100 years of record keeping by the way.
Coach Harasymiak told us on the Drive on 92.9FM that his team had to play the role of homecoming opponent four straight games. Towson was one of those teams whose homecoming celebration was tainted by a Black Bears win that included a dramatic defensive stand at the end to clinch the victory.
And the rollercoaster ride that was the conference clinching, one point victorious finale versus Elon should be enough to ensure a good turnout for the playoff game in less than two weeks.
As a parent it pains me to recall it, but we must mention the tragic death of Darius Minor before training camp officially opened. The team has dedicated the season to Darius. His jersey lends a meaningful and inspirational presence to every game.
Maine will host a playoff game Saturday December 1 in Orono. The last home playoff game was in 2013. It was cold, but packed with Go Blue faithful, including myself.
Maine lost to UNH. But this year their opponent will be from the deep south. Either Jacksonville State or East Tennessee. We’ll see how they like playing on the cold turf in early December.
I would not bet against the Black Bears. I expect them to win. And I think that will lock them in for best sports story of the year. No voting needed.