November 10, 2012

PINE TREE CONFERENCE CLASS B TITLE GAME: Luker shoulders the load for Mt. Blue

By Bill Stewart bstewart@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FARMINGTON — Chad Luker walked toward the Mt. Blue sideline, his visible breath hanging over Kemp Field.

The hulking Mt. Blue senior captain linebacker/running back raised his arms to a throng of spectators and beckoned them to get louder.

The fans responded as the final seconds ticked away of a 42-14 victory over Waterville in the Pine Tree Conference Class B title game Friday night.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Luker said.

About 12 months to be exact.

The Cougars suffered a heart-breaking 22-21 loss in double overtime to Leavitt in the conference title game last season. Luker, who played a significantly bigger role this season, didn’t want to walk off his field — or any other — stung with those emotions again.

“Worst feeling I ever felt last year, last game,” he said.

And Friday night?

“Best feeling I can feel right now,” he said. “It feels … unbelievable.”

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Luker did a lot of everything Friday night.

He rushed for 74 yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries. He had an interception and made a number of pad-crunching hits on Waterville ball carriers.

It was one dominant performance.

“After this season, if colleges don’t call me about him, then shame on them,” Mt. Blue coach Gary Parlin said. “He’s a beast.”

Luker jump started the offense when he rushed for a 5-yard touchdown just 3 minutes, 31 seconds into the game.

His second score, from 10 yards out, gave No. 1 Mt. Blue (11-0) a seemingly comfortable 21-0 lead with 1:30 left in the second quarter.

No. 6 Waterville scored 14 points in a 14-second span to close out the half and keep things interesting.

After losing momentum, Mt. Blue needed a lift in the second half — and it was the suddenly go-to guy in the offense who delivered.

Luker capped a nine-play, 59-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run midway through the third to help the Cougars surge ahead 28-14.

Waterville never recovered and Mt. Blue rolled into the Class B state title game.

“We have a formation called elephant,” he said. “It’s just unbalanced, big boys in the backfield (and) we like to just put it down their throat. We were just running it down their throats. We had a good second-half game plan.”

Added Parlin: “Chad has really stepped up. He’s put in the work and made the most of his opportunities.”

He certainly has.

Luker is the quintessential short-yardage running back. He played fullback last season but took on a greater role in the offense this fall.

“Coach Parlin took me into his office at the end of the (PTC B title) game last year and he told me I was going to be playing every side of the ball,” Luker said. “I took it to heart. I went to the gym every day. I took off baseball so I could go to the gym every day and run every day.”

Luker said he put on about 25 pounds to help him transition.

“On any other team he’d be a 1,000-yard rusher,” Parlin said. “But we like to spread it around a little bit. We like to share the load.”

On Friday night, with a regional championship there for the taking, it was Luker who shouldered most of that load.

Bill Stewart — 621-5640
bstewart@centralmaine.com

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