Gray-New Gloucester boys dominate Maine football in the early 80s

The Gray-New Gloucester Patriots won their third state championship in five years in 1983 in a 3-1 victory over Piscataquis.

When the Gray-New Gloucester men’s soccer team lost their coach early in the 1979 season, athletic director Skip Ehnstrom stepped in and guided the Patriots to their first state title.

It was the first of three state championships in five years for Gray-New Gloucester. All three came under the leadership of Ehnstrom, whose bold decisions and attacking philosophy propelled three talented but distinct teams to Class B titles, the first football dynasty for a side in the zone. Sun Journal cover.

The first championship team included one of the state’s best players, senior Bruce Macomber, who was selected as the All-State goaltender for the third time in 1979, even though he didn’t play in this position for much of the senior season.

The Patriots opened the season 4-1 in five road games, then stumbled and a few weeks later were 5-5-1.

That’s around the time Ehnstrom turned Macomber from goalie to forward. The Patriots lost Game 1 with Jeff Mongeau in goal, but went on to win their final four regular season games and claim the third seed in the Class B playoffs from Western Maine.

Macomber was as effective at producing goals as he was at stopping them, and the attacking duo of Macomber and Carl Holmquist were too powerful for opposing defences, who might be able to prevent one of them. to be the Patriots’ offensive catalyst, but struggled to slow them both down. at a time.

Holmquist, a junior, scored both goals for Gray-New Gloucester in a 2-1 quarter-final win over Mount View High School in Thorndike, including the winner with 54 seconds left in a death overtime sudden.

In the Patriots’ 3-2 semi-final win over No. 2 St. Dom’s, Macomber scored the opening goal and helped set up the other two.

Macomber again led the offense in the Western B final, a 3-2 win over top-seeded Yarmouth. He assisted on a pair of goals in the first half and then scored the winning goal late in regulation.

The Patriots were champions of western Maine and, for the first time, headed to the Class B championship game.

Holmquist led the way in the Class B final, as Gray-New Gloucester, after three wins on the wire and a goal in the Western playoffs, captured their first state championship with a 5- 1 much easier on Van Burien.

Holmquist scored the Patriots’ first, third and fifth goals in the title game. Richard Myers and Rick Ordway also scored.

Gray-New Gloucester, with one of the best offensive goaltenders in the state, won its last eight games and finished the season 13-6-1.

A DECLINE YEAR

In the years leading up to 1979, Patriots coach Jim Mingo arranged trips for the football team to England and Jamaica, where players attended clinics and played exhibition games.

However, in early September 1979, he resigned as coach of his alma mater. It was later reported that he was injured in a motorcycle accident just before the start of the season.

Ehnstrom, as interim coach, replaced and guided the Patriots to the state championship.

Mingo was back at the helm in 1980.

Macomber graduated and was playing goalie in Lafayette-Connecticut, but Holmquist and other scorers were back for the Patriots, and Mongeau was back in goal.

Gray-New Gloucester, however, was not back to Class B. Due to an increase in enrollment, it was elevated to Class A.

Holmquist scored plenty of goals and was named to the All-Class A West team, but the young Patriots struggled to go 4-7-2 and missed the playoffs.

Carl Holmquist of the Gray-New Gloucester Patriots scored plenty of goals in 1980, but the team struggled that year, finishing with a 4-7-2 record. Sun Photo Diary

COMFORTABLE

In 1981 Gray-New Gloucester returned to Class B and Skip Ehnstrom replaced Mingo as the team’s head coach.

“We’re definitely more comfortable in ‘B’,” Ehnstrom told the Sun-Journal before the season started.

Six players from the 1979 Championship squad were still there, and others gained valuable experience in 1980.

The Patriots started slow, going 1-3-1 in their first five games, then went on to win several consecutive victories, one of which was the only regular season loss for Sacopee Valley.

Ehnstrom was a high-achieving college player who helped Springfield win the 1957 national championship. He maintained a similar approach when he became a coach. He preferred to stack players on the offensive end to attack the other team’s goal, rather than putting five defenders in front of the Patriots goal.

“There’s more action,” he told the Sunday Sun Journal in 1983. “From my point of view, as long as I have the ball you can’t score. Not that we were going to keep the ball or whatever – we were going to score goals.

This approach required scorers. Like he did in 1979, Ehnstrom found one guarding the Patriots net.

He transitioned Mongeau from goalie to forward, and like Macomber two years earlier, Mongeau became one of Gray-New Gloucester’s leading scorers and helped lead the team back into the playoffs.

In the Western semifinal, Mongeau scored and set up Rick McCann’s goal as the Patriots ousted top seed Sacopee Valley, 3-1.

It was a physical fight, however, and Gray-New Gloucester lost Mongeau for the rest of the playoffs to a broken leg.

The Patriots kept playing and Chris Vaughn’s goal early in the second half held firm and the Patriots regained the regional crown with a 1-0 win over second-seeded Mount View in the Western B Final. .

In the state title game, Gray-NG’s defense held off Eastern champion Penquis, who had scored 18 goals in three postseason games.

Richard Myers scored three of the Patriots’ four second-half goals, and the team captured the Class B title for the second time in three years with a 4-0 win.

“They just couldn’t keep up with us,” Ehnstrom told the Daily Sun.

Key players were back for the repeat attempt at Gray-New Gloucester in 1982, such as Rick McCann, Bill Chapman and Jeff Kirby. The Patriots had a few exchange students who played big roles, especially Jin Thuring, who became the Patriots’ top threat.

Gray-New Gloucester finished the regular season with a 3-1 win over eventual Class A champion Greely and secured first place in the Western B playoffs.

The Patriots once again advanced to the Western Finals, but their dreams of a repeat were shattered by a 1-0 loss to Lincoln.

The Patriots’ 1983 Class B state title victory over Piscataquis would end a winning streak for the Gray-New Gloucester team.

GNG FOR THREE

Although 1982 ended in disappointment, the Patriots had several reasons for optimism in 1983.

Eight starters returned, highlighted again by McCann, who was one of the team’s leading scorers the previous two seasons, as well as Dave Wilbur, Tom Genthner and Dave LaRose, who moved on to goalie aim.

Gray-New Gloucester again won the top seed from Western B.

In the quarter-finals, McCann scored the game’s only goal in a 1–0 win over Lisbon.

Then rookie Tim O’Wrill scored twice in the semi-finals, while McCann scored once and set up another, as Gray-NG dispatched Kennebunk 4-1 to earn a comeback in the Premier League final. West, where he faced unlikely finalist Falmouth.

The sixth-seeded Yachtsmen, after going 5-4-5 in the regular season, upset No. 3 Mount View and second-seeded Sacopee Valley in the playoffs.

Falmouth played the Patriots just as tough, keeping them scoreless until Venezuelan exchange student Javier Usubilloga scored on a header late in the fourth quarter, and Gray-New Gloucester won, 1-0

The Patriots were back in the National Finals and for the third time in five years they won.

First-half goals from Usubilloga and Joe Kettle put Gray-NG up 2-0 against Eastern champion Piscataquis.

The Pirates began to build momentum and in the third period scored to cut the deficit in half.

A few minutes later, McCann seized the ball in midfield then made a run against three defenders which amazed the two coaches and ended with an insurance goal. Gray-New Gloucester held on to a 3-1 lead and won the state championship title for the third time.

The 16 senior graduates decimated the 1984 Patriots and they missed the playoffs.

Gray-New Gloucester had another run under Ehnstrom, entering as the ninth seed in 1985 and knocking out seeds Mount Abram and Lincoln before falling to sixth-seeded York in the Premier League final. ‘West.


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