By Travis Lazarczyk
Maine Central Institute head coach Tom Bertrand hoped the experience his team gained in a winless season last year would translate into success this season. It didn't take long for Bertrand's hopes to be realized.
The Huskies opened the season at Orono on Friday, and returned home to Pittsfield with a convincing 41-6 win. The win was a great reversal of fortune for MCI. Last season, the Red Riots beat the Huskies 58-8. In 2011, Orono took a 57-32 win over MCI in the regular season, and a 50-0 win in the Little Ten Conference quarterfinals.
"We played with a lot of confidence," Bertrand said of Friday's game. "Defensively, we really ran to the ball. We had four, five, six hats around the ball on every play, and we did it the whole game."
Defending Orono's offense, which runs primarily out of a full house T formation, isn't always easy. The Red Riots use a lot of fakes. Opponents can get sucked in on a fake, allowing the ball carrier to run free. To prepare, Bertrand focused the Huskies on assignment football. As he sometimes does when MCI is prepping to play an option team, Bertrand had his defense run through drills without a ball.
It worked. MCI's starting defense did not allow a point, and Orono did not score until the final minute of the game.
"We made sure they ran to their assignment instead of running to the ball," Bertrand said. "We said (Orono) will have to beat us in another way."
The Huskies play their home opener Friday against Stearns of Millinocket.
"Stearns is always another tough team," Bertrand said.
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Lawrence used two quarterbacks, senior Jim Leathers and junior Cody Martin, in Friday's 29-8 win over Gardiner. That rotation is likely to continue this week at Mt. Blue, head coach John Hersom said.
Both Leathers and Martin also play a lot of defense, Martin at safety and Leathers at defensive end. With Leathers playing such a physical position, Hersom is mindful of wearing him out on both sides of the ball.
"We've kind of needed (Leathers) up there," Hersom said. "We know that's right in the middle of things."
Both quarterbacks bring skills to the position that Hersom and his staff like.
"Cody might be a little stronger as a runner," Hersom said. "What we've found with Jim is, he makes some pretty good decisions when we throw the ball."
The Bulldogs announced captains Monday with seniors Leathers, Kyle McLain, Ethan Powers and Ryan Gagne earning the honor. The four were selected by their teammates, Hersom said.
"This is the first time we've had four. I think, four good choices," Hersom said.
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Under head coach Mike Siviski, Winslow has never been afraid of running trick plays. Late in the second quarter of Saturday's 28-12 win over Belfast, the Black Raiders ran a variation of the same trick play, a halfback pass, on two consecutive plays.
After a block in the back penalty pushed the Black Raiders into a first and 25 situation from the Belfast 29-yard line, Winslow ran the halfback pass, with Dylan Hapworth taking a pitch from Bobby Chenard, rolling to the right and firing an incomplete pass down the right sideline.
On the next play, second and 25, Winslow ran the halfback pass again. This time, after rolling to the right, Hapworth turned and threw across the field to the left, where Chenard was wide open. The quarterback took the pass and gained 15 yards to the Lions' 14.
The plays did not set up a Winslow score, though. The Black Raiders missed a 22-yard field goal with 9.5 seconds left in the first half.
After the game, Siviski downplayed running the trick play on consecutive snaps.
"We just ran different patterns off it, that's all," Siviski said.
Winslow plays at Camden Hills on Saturday.
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Around the state: Thornton Academy running back Andrew Libby will miss the season after suffering a knee injury in the season opening game at South Portland on Friday. A senior, Libby was the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year last season... Teams that dropped from Class A to Class B with the expansion to four classes this year went 5-3 in Week 1. Both Mt. Ararat and Messalonksee lost to another former Class A team. Only Gorham lost to a Class B holdover, Falmouth.
Travis Lazarczyk -- 861-9242
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