The Portsmouth-Oyster River ClipperCats’ High School football team went from dominating the field in a game against Goffstown, to laying everything they had out against the undefeated, number one team in Maine, Oxford Hills.
The ClipperCats had a hard-fought loss in their homecoming game against the Oxford Hills Vikings, finishing 13-48. The ClipperCats managed to keep the score to a tight 6-20 in the first half as they battled relentlessly. The score shifted in the second half creating a larger gap.
Mason Smith (’24), who plays as an offensive guard and defensive tackle said, “In the first half we were playing right on their level, if not better, but in the second half we slowed down.” Mason believes that this is what could have caused the gap in the final score.
Head coach Brian Pafford had been hoping to stay within 10-14 points. “They were big, they were tall, they’re the number one team in Maine for a reason. Those would be my expectations. We didn’t quite hit those expectations,” he said after the game.
Prior to the game, Maddox Smith (’24) said, “Our last two games of the season will be hard.” His twin brother, Mason, added, “if we get our offense running, our defense is insane. So, I’d say we have a chance.”
Daniel Doherty (‘23) was certainly running as he broke free in the second quarter for an impressive stretch of field before being tripped up. This was right after Aidan Thomas threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Doherty, tying up the game.
Despite losing against the Vikings, the Clippers 4-3 record will not shift. As an out of state team, the game won’t have any impact on the Clippers’ 11th seed standing in playoffs.
This is fortunate for the Clippers, whose win against Goffstown the week before significantly boosted their standings.
Doherty, a wide-receiver, was looking forward to the confidence boost their game against Goffstown would bring, in which Doherty ended up scoring three touchdowns.
It’s possible the Clippers felt a bit of sweet revenge after dominating in the Goffstown game, considering this was the team to knock them out of qualifying for playoffs last year.
“Our last game against Goffstown we lost 6-0,” said Mason Smith (’24) of ORHS.
“It was terrible. Wet, muddy,” added his twin brother Maddox Smith (’24).
“We had a lot of people out that game too,” Mason finished.
This season’s game ended much differently, with a 54-0 win for the Clippers.
Their dominant win against Goffstown served as a confidence boost, and the loss against Oxford Hills has lit the fire of motivation moving into their final game of the regular season against Timberlane on October 28th.
The Clippers 4-3 standing still has the potential to change. “We [The Clippers] are going to try and beat Timberlane and move up to a nine or eight seed instead of eleven,” said Pafford.
Timberlane currently sits with a win-loss record of 7-1. No matter the outcome of this game, the Clippers will enter playoffs which consist of the top thirteen teams from a pool of twenty-one.
The final standings will determine which teams play each other in the first round of playoffs. The first and second seeded teams will have a first-round bye, and the third through eighth seeded teams will have a home field advantage.
Either way, based on their performance so far this year, the Clippers are looking at having a great run in the playoffs. Their wins have all been impressive, and with an exception for this homecoming game, their losses have all been close.
This is in part due to the joint team’s chemistry. “It’s phenomenal. It could not have gone any better since we started this [joint team] five years ago,” said Pafford.
“Even your fans have been here watching the games, and it’s gotten better every year,” he added. Especially with two schools to contribute, fan support is incredibly important. Raising the energy off the field is key to raising it on the field. The stands may have emptied out early on Friday night, but everyone is encouraged to attend the final regular season game this Friday the 28th.
To end their season Doherty hopes “to win a couple of playoff games and go as far as we can.”
– Mia Boyd