October 2, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: MCI picks up the pace to become a threat in Eastern D

By Travis Lazarczyk tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

PITTSFIELD — At Maine Central Institute, the football revolution is not patient. It is in a hurry, and it is working.

click image to enlarge

MOVING AT A HIGH RATE: Maine Central Institute went to a no-huddle offense this season and it has worked wonders for a program that went winless last season. The Huskies are 4-0 and averaging 52.5 points per game this season.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

BY THE NUMBERS

52.5: points per game
417.5: yards per game
7.6: yards per carry
653: Rushing yards for Jonathan Santiago
240: Passing yards for Greg Vigue

The Huskies went to a no-huddle offense this season and it has helped turn the Huskies from a team that went winless in 2012, to one that is unbeaten at the midpoint of the season, and one that is scoring points at an incredible rate.

“It was not difficult at all. Our kids bought into it. I think some of it was the confidence we instilled as a staff. We knew what we were doing,” MCI head coach Tom Bertrand said.

The Huskies average 52.5 points per game, and are the highest scoring team in Class D. Statewide, only Waterville and Cheverus have put up more points than the Huskies, who improved to 4-0 last Friday with a 67-18 win over Mt. View. Against Mt. View, MCI ran up 500 yards of offense.

“Coach Bertrand does a really good job,” Mt. View head coach Haggie Pratt said after the game. “They’re running on all cylinders at this point in the season.”

The Huskies lead the Little Ten Conference in total offense, averaging 417.5 yards per game. Running back Jonathan Santiago leads the league with 653 yards rushing. As a team, the Huskies average 7.6 yards per carry.

“It was a new concept for all of us, so at first it was difficult. As we started to get it down and understand it more, it really came together,” said sophomore quarterback Greg Vigue, who has 240 yards passing and five touchdown passes.

MCI’s no-huddle offense came from a coaches clinic Bertrand attended last March. At the clinic, Bates offensive coordinator Daryle Weiss talked about how easy the no huddle offense can be.

“(Weiss) was talking about simplicity being the key to the whole thing,” Bertrand said.

Bertrand thought the up tempo pace might work with his team, but put the idea aside until Woody Moore joined his staff as an assistant coach. The former head coach at Oceanside and its predecessor, Rockland, Moore had experience with the no-huddle working with Weiss at Rockland.

“When Woody got here, I was telling him that, and he said ‘Let me work on it.’ He and I spent a lot of time, coming up with signals and pictures and everything,” Bertrand said. “I trusted him. He’d done it before. I trusted in his confidence that we could get it implemented.”

Added Moore: “We kept building on it until we had a product we thought the kids would buy into. The kids loved it.”

The Huskies learned the offense over the summer, and debuted it with a 41-6 win at Orono in the season opener. Since then, MCI’s points total has gone up every game, from a 46-0 win over Stearns, to a 56-18 win at Ellsworth, to last week’s win over the Mustangs.

“The more repetitions you get, the easier it comes. Our motto is, keep your head and keep going,” said junior wide receiver Austin Tolman, who caught a pair of touchdowns last week.

Added senior guard Briar Bussell: “During the summer, it was working really good for us, and we couldn’t wait to try it out on some other teams. When we did, it worked.”

To quicken the time between plays and avoid huddling up, MCI’s offensive players look to the sidelines before each play, where a coach gives hand signals and a yellow sign decorated with various symbols is held up to relay in the play call.

It’s word association, Bertand said.

“We want to make sure, between the hand signals and the pictures and the numbering system that we’ve got, we’re getting in the play and the formation, whether it’s a run or a pass, whether we’re using motion or not,” Bertrand said. “Every single thing we do means something. There’s a sequence to it, and the kids have picked it up.

(Continued on page 2)

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