When Scarborough High School junior Evan Gage studies world geography, he doesn’t need a map or a globe because he has lived it. Gage, a wide receiver and cornerback on the varsity football team has lived in countries all across the world, including four different continents.
This summer Gage moved from Brussels, Belgium and is getting his first taste of American football.
“I started playing football in Belgium. It was one of the only European schools that had American football,” Gage said of the International School of Brussels, which has students from 72 different countries. “In fact, I chose that school because it had football. It is rare to find in Belgium, because it is usually all about soccer.”
Prior to living in Belgium, Gage, whose dad works for the American government, lived in Ecuador and Turkey, two locations where football is anything but on the forefront of residents’ minds.
Gage said the way coaches in Brussels approach the game is much different than in Scarborough.
“Coaching was different. They way they teach was different,” said Gage, who was born in Grinnell, Iowa. “It was an international school, so you had coaches from Canada, the U.S. and
Europe. They all had different ways of teaching you.”
The team, Gage said, faced schools on military bases and included players who had a background in rugby, a sport similar to football that was popularized in England and is played all over the world.
Gage said the style of football played in Europe is much less physical than the one played stateside.
“We had to use our mentality to win. We decided to be a smart football team instead of being physical. In Belgium it got us to the playoffs the two years I played there. Being smart on the field is very important,” Gage said prior to practice Oct. 16, the day before a 56-21 victory against Massabesic.
Head varsity football coach Lance Johnson said Gage has done a good job transitioning to the more physical style of football played in the United States.
He said because Gage arrived in Scarborough over the summer, he had ample time to learn the Scarborough-style of play and build relationships and connections with his teammates.
“He has been transitioning well. The physicality was tough at first but athletically he has been great. He is a bright kid and has picked up on everything we have been trying to do,” Johnson said.
“He has fit in really well,” Johnson added. “I think he is used to that.
After starting the season 0-4 with losses to Bonny Eagle, Thornton Academy, Bangor and Sanford, Scarborough (3-4) turned around its season earlier this month with wins over Biddeford and South Portland.
“We got off to a rough start. Our first three games we played Bangor, T.A. and Bonny Eagle, who are three of the better teams in the whole state of Maine. We didn’t have a lot of experience coming back from last year, but the kids have worked hard,” Johnson said.
Last year Scarborough finished the regular season 5-3 and lost in the second round of the semi-final round of the playoffs to Bonny Eagle, which won the Class A title. Over the last four years, Scarborough has lost to the eventual state champion, including Cheverus in 2010 and 2011 and Thornton Academy in 2012.
“If things fall right, we could still have a home playoff game,” Johnson said.
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