BANGOR — The Bangor High School football team didn’t like the results of the WIAA seeding meeting that placed them second to defending Division 7 state champion Edgar a couple of weeks ago.
The Cardinals understood it after the Wildcats knocked them out of last year’s playoffs, but that didn’t mean they had to like it.
Bangor continued to prove that it could be the best Division 7 team in its part of the bracket — or even the state — by blasting Independence/Gilmanton 60-6 in a second-round game in Bangor on Friday.
The Cardinals (11-0) earned the chance at a rematch with Edgar (11-0) next Friday after scoring the first 60 points of the game against Independence/Gilmanton.
“Mentally I was really proud of the way our guys played,” said Bangor coach Rick Muellenberg, whose team outscored its regular-season opponents 479-21. “With the weather being what it, is you just don’t know, sometimes they kind of let that get to them.
“But we came out played fast right away, our defense really set the tone for us. They have set the tone all season long, and our offense isn’t a slouch, either, when they get the ball.”
The Cardinals started fast by scoring a touchdown less than 90 seconds after kickoff. Senior Luke Reader took a handoff from Drew Johnson and went 39 yards to put the Indees in an early 8-0 hole.
After the defense forced the Indees (9-2) to go three-and-out — Bangor made that a common theme for the night — the Cardinals went back to their quick-strike offense by going 72 yards on six plays in 2:15.
Reader capped off that drive with his second rushing touchdown from 15 yards out. Reader went on to score two more touchdowns in the half — one on a 4-yard dive and the other on a 61-yard punt return.
The four touchdowns moved Reader’s season total to 32.
But it wasn’t just Reader on the offensive end. Thanks to a dominating performance by the offensive line, numerous Cardinals got in on the action. Drew Johnson had a 52-yard touchdown run, and Caleb Horstman added a couple of rushing scores.
Bangor had 343 offensive yards in the first half and 393 in the game. Independence/Gilmenton had 130, but only 32 of them came before halftime.
“Our offensive line, every week, are just men,” Reader said. “No one can do anything against them. The holes are wide open. It makes it pretty easy for us.”
Reader finished with 77 yards on eight carries with four touchdowns, Carter Horstman had 62 yards on four carries, while Connor Zager led the Cardinals with 100 yards on six carries as that offensive line overwhelmed the Indees’ front seven.
“Our offensive line has played well all season long,” Muellenberg said. “One of the things we have gotten better the last couple of weeks is being quicker off the ball.
“Even in these conditions, I thought our offensive line was pretty quick tonight. They stayed on their blocks and had good double teams. Then the backs were able to break some tackles. We had some good lanes to run in.”
The Bangor defense was just as impressive. The Indees came in with a high-powered offense that averaged 37.6 points per game and that featured a 1,000-yard rusher in Dayne Keenan and a 1,200-yard passer in Ian Pfaff.
But the Cardinals shut them down, holding Keenan to 59 yards on 20 carries and Pfaff to just 48 yards on 7-for-22 passing. Pfaff had more punts (eight) than completions.
“We watched a lot of film,” Reader said. “Our coaches put is in the right position, and we just went out there and made plays.”