Latest Posts ELLSWORTH — Long after everyone else had left the stadium, the Ellsworth/Sumner Eagles weren’t about to stop savoring a special moment.Fans of the Ellsworth/Sumner football team and the visiting Houlton Shiretowners had flocked to the parking lot to begin their journeys home, but the Eagles’ players and coaches weren’t going anywhere. As the team gathered in the south end zone at Harold “Tug” White Stadium, everyone wanted to keep celebrating a breakthrough triumph.Javon Williams and Connor Crawford hollered as they brushed shoulder pads and high-fived. Junior Charlie Hughes, sweat dripping down his face, took off his helmet and raised his arms toward the night sky as he jumped on Crawford’s back. Before long, the players’ head coach was there to join them.“That was fun, wasn’t it?” Duane Crawford yelled to Hughes and Williams as the three shared a hug. “Let’s do that again!”This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textOn a night that saw the Ellsworth/Sumner football team earn its first win of the season, that exuberance told the whole story. After losing tight games to start the year, battling roster attrition and dealing with numerous injuries, the Eagles fought back from a second-half deficit against visiting Houlton to deliver a 28-14 victory on Homecoming Friday.“We might be going up against teams that have twice as many players as us because we have 23 guys, but our boys don’t quit,” Williams said. “All that hard work we’ve put in and the conditioning we’ve done in the offseason, it paid off for us tonight and gave us a win that’s going to boost our confidence.”Ellsworth/Sumner’s Connor Crawford pitches the ball to Charlie Hughes during the first half of a high school football game against Houlton on Sept. 22 in Ellsworth. Crawford and Hughes combined for the Eagles’ four touchdowns on the ground. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELLEllsworth/Sumner didn’t get a first down on its first drive, but the Eagles’ bend-but-don’t-break defense kept Houlton off the scoreboard on the ensuing possession. After getting the ball back, Connor Crawford took the snap under center and ran 94 yards to the end zone to put the Eagles ahead 6-0 as time expired in the first quarter.“I saw a bit of a lane, and I cut back and started running as hard as I could,” Crawford said. “They had a guy coming after me who I thought was going to get me, but I kicked it into full gear from there and just kept sprinting.”Houlton, though, had a response. The Shiretowners immediately set off on a drive that lasted over nine minutes and had three conversions on third or fourth down. With 2 minutes, 44 seconds left in the half, Seth Holston plowed his way into the end zone to tie the game at 6.Neither team scored for the remainder of the first half, but a 55-yard run by Houlton on the first play of the second set up a touchdown run and 2-point conversion that put the Shiretowners ahead 14-6. Three possessions later, Ellsworth/Sumner tied the game after Crawford ran the ball in from a yard out and threw a pass to Williams for the 2-point conversion.From there, the Eagles (1-3) seized the momentum — and caught the break they needed in the process.After Ellsworth/Sumner stopped Houlton (2-2) on the next drive, the Shiretowners had a bad snap on the punt that gave the Eagles the ball deep in the red zone. Two plays later, Charlie Hughes scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to put Ellsworth/Sumner ahead 20-14 with 12 seconds remaining in the third quarter.“We took advantage of their mistakes and made plays when we needed them,” Duane Crawford said. “It was a total team effort, and as a coach, I really couldn’t have asked for anything more.”Ellsworth/Sumner’s Charlie Hughes goes for a diving tackle against Houlton’s Seth Holston during the second half of a high school football game Sept. 22 in Ellsworth. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELLFollowing another Houlton punt, Ellsworth/Sumner made the visitors pay once again. Midway through the fourth quarter, Connor Crawford spun past a defender and dove over the goal line for an 8-yard score. The ensuing 2-point try put the home team up 28-14, and an interception with a minute left allowed the Eagles to run out the clock.Crawford totaled 163 yards on 15 carries for Ellsworth/Sumner’s offense, and Hughes recorded 58 yards on nine carries. Andrew Brown and Malcolm Svec both had four solo tackles and nine assisted tackles on defense, and the former provided the game-ending interception for the Eagles.In addition to giving the team its first win of the season, the game had yet another piece of significance for Ellsworth/Sumner. The team is now in fifth place in Class D North, and when it faces Winthrop/Monmouth (1-3) on the road at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, it will enter the game occupying a playoff spot for the first time after being ineligible the past five years.For the moment, though, it wasn’t time to look ahead. When the scoreboard in the northeast corner of the stadium turned off after the team’s postgame pep talk, a familiar face at Ellsworth High School voiced his objection.“Turn it back on!” the voice yelled. It was longtime teacher and head wrestling coach J.F. Burns, who wanted a picture of his team with the winning score in the background. And with two teams Houlton shut out by a combined margin of 50-0 left on Ellsworth/Sumner’s schedule, the Eagles have an opportunity to make Burns take a few more scoreboard photos before season’s end.“We can build on this,” Williams said. “When you haven’t won yet, the games seem longer and start to get you down. We don’t have to worry about that now. We finally have that win and know we can make some noise.” Mike MandellMike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected] Bio Latest posts by Mike Mandell (see all) Hospice volunteers help families navigate grief and find hope – September 12, 2020 Ellsworth runners compete in virtual Boston Marathon – September 16, 2020 MPA approves golf, XC, field hockey, soccer; football, volleyball moved to spring – September 10, 2020
China’s greatest track and field athlete Liu Xiang announced his retirement Tuesday, with the injury-plagued Athens 2004 gold medal winner saying he had “no choice” but to bring down the curtain on his trail-blazing career.”From today, I will end my life as a professional athlete and retire formally,” the 110m hurdles star said in an online post.”This is a decision made after long deliberation. I am deeply reluctant and feel pained, but I have no choice,” he added, on his verified account on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.The 31-year-old’s retirement is likely to spark an outpouring of emotion from Chinese sports fans, despite the news being widely expected, particularly since reports last week that an announcement was imminent.The Shanghai-born athlete has become loved for his heart-breaking setbacks as well as his achievements after he burst onto the scene in Athens to claim China’s first men’s track and field gold.Following that victory, Liu was hotly tipped for gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, but limped out of the first heat, shocking tearful home fans at the Birds Nest stadium. Liu suffered another agonising exit at London 2012, clattering into the first hurdle in his opening heat. After being helped up, he hopped the length of the track before symbolically kissing the last barrier and exiting the Olympic arena.Liu will be remembered in China as the man who proved that Asian athletes can compete with the world’s best in sprint sports, particularly when he was on world-beating form ahead of Beijing 2008.He arrived at the Games after breaking the world record with a time of 12.88 seconds in 2006, and winning the world title in 2007.His coach Sun Haiping was quoted in Chinese media last week that he was “preparing” to retire, fuelling speculation at he would finally draw the curtain on a remarkable career.In his retirement statement, Liu looked back with “reluctance” to the pivotal Beijing Olympics, when his career began to be severely affected by a right Achilles tendon injury.”I dreamt about raising the (Chinese) flag,” he said, “But the injuries started to torture me just before the race.” “Why did I let the Chinese people down?”, he added.PRIDE AND GLORYHis withdrawal in 2008 sparked widespread debate in China, with many observers accusing him at the time of letting his country down, while others said he had been pushed too hard by the country’s strict state sports system.But his pioneering exploits in athletics have been widely praised by many sports fans in China, and on Tuesday his retirement was the biggest topic on Weibo, with 11.5 million people re-posting the news within an hour of the announcement.”You are the pride of China,” one netizen said. “Our national hero brought the Asian people glory,” another added.Liu’s retirement follows China’s first tennis Grand Slam winner Li Na calling it a day last year, and hugely-popular former NBA star Yao Ming signing off in 2011.Many Chinese netizens compared the trio as they saluted Liu’s achievements.”China’s three biggest sports stars have retired,” one said. “Although this is sad, I look forward to more sports stars replacing them in the future.”–
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