Thursday, December 5, 2013
The undefeated knot at the top of the Little Ten Conference is about to become a little less tangled.
There are three 6-0 teams in the LTC, Bucksport, Maine Central Institute, and Mattanawcook Academy. Friday in Pittsfield, MCI hosts Bucksport, and it’s a game the host Huskies have anticipated for some time.
“Early on in the season, when we started to see how things were shaking out, we probably knew after week two, week three, this was going to be a big week for us. Definitely not looking ahead, but looking forward to it,” MCI head coach Tom Bertrand said.
Bucksport was among the preseason favorites in the conference. MCI, which went winless last season, is a bit of a surprise. No opponent has come within 34 points of the Huskies, who average almost 50 points per game.
“This is what we’ve been working for. The offseason, all season, it’s for this game. This will be the big test,” MCI junior co-captain Mitchell Hallee said.
The Huskies’ no huddle offense hasn’t been slowed yet. Junior running back Jonathan Santiago leads the conference in rushing with 1,053 yards, and his 146 points scored is 82 points more than Mattanawcook’s Trysten Pelkey, the LTC’s second-leading scorer.
Eric Hathaway (318 yards) and Alex Bertrand (184 yards) join Santiago in MCI’s backfield. Hallee (five catches for 117 yards) and Austin Tolman (nine catches for 177 yards) are MCI’s top receivers. Quarterback Greg Vigue has 389 passing yards and five touchdown throws.
“We’re healthy. That’s a good thing for us, knock on wood. At this point in the season, you’re usually not getting back to full strength, you’re losing guys,” Bertrand said. “We’ve got the bumps and bangs, but we’re feeling good about where we’re at, health-wise.”
The Golden Bucks have been almost as dominant as MCI. Only Orono stayed within two touchdowns of Bucksport in the first six games. The Golden Bucks are coming off a 55-0 win over John Bapst.
The running duo of Jack Cyr and Asher Bowden has combined for 898 yards and 17 touchdowns for Bucksport.
“They have hard running backs. They keep going to get the extra yards,” Hallee said.
Quarterback Matt Stewart is the most accurate passer in the league, connecting on 41 of 65 passes for 580 yards and nine touchdowns. Stewart’s favorite target is Josh Gray, who has 22 catches for 335 yards and eight touchdowns.
“They’ve got good size. They’ve got good team speed. They’re very well-coached. They’re excited and prepared. They certainly are going to be our biggest test so far,” Bertrand said.
Linebacker Alex Bertrand has 33 solo tackles for MCI, while linebacker Jimmy Hall had 38 solo stops. Defensive lineman Briar Bussell leads the Huskies with four sacks.
KP Hilaire leads Bucksport’s defense with 35 solo tackles and six sacks. Nick Bishop has 30 tackles for the Bucks.
“They have the will to drive the ball. We have a strong defense,” Hallee said. “It’s going to be a good game.”
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242