Friday, March 7, 2014
When the Mt. Blue High School football team reported for preseason last year, the vibe around the team was all about unfinished business. The Cougars lost the Pine Tree Conference Class B championship game in overtime to Leavitt in 2011, so 2012 was about taking the next step.
That step was taken with an undefeated season, culminating in Mt. Blue's 42-40 win over Marshwod in the Class B state title game. Now, the talk around Mt. Blue practices is all about new challenges.
Head coach Gary Parlin is happy to be playing in one of the toughest leagues in the state. With the addition of a fourth class, Mt. Blue is in a league with some rivals from the PTC B, like Gardiner and Hampden, and older rivals from the conference, including Lawrence, Skowhegan, Cony and Messalonskee.
"The new realignment has helped our preseason. It's really recharged our kids' batteries," Parlin said.
The Cougars won a 7-on-7 tournament at Bates College this summer, and also played well in Waterville's 7-on-7 league.
"We had a great summer. The kids showed up in really good shape," Parlin said. "I think it's a positive we have a new schedule. I fought for four divisions for years, and once I stopped fighting, it happened."
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It's a new season, but that hasn't stopped the Waterville Senior High School football team from taking inspiration from 2012.
Last season, the Purple Panthers made a run to the Pine Tree Conference Class B championship game, where they lost to eventual state champion Mt. Blue. The returning Waterville players used last season's run as offseason motivation.
"Getting to the Eastern Maine championship game really ignited a fire under this team," head coach Frank Knight said. "They've been talking about it a lot."
Last season's playoff run not only motivates the Panthers, but it may have helped the team's growth. Success breeds interest, and Knight said numbers are up in the program this season. Waterville has 64 players, grades 9-12, including 16 seniors.
"Right now, we're working on fundamentals and playing the right way," Knight said. "We're teaching physicality with safety in mind. (Friday) we'll actually get to go full speed and hit."
Waterville will scrimmage at Belfast on Monday.
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Haggie Pratt is just days into his tenure as Mt. View High School's head football coach, but he already feels right at home.
Pratt said approximately 40 players are out for the Mustangs this season, and he's not sure if he could take many more.
"That's about the limit of our equipment," Pratt, who spent the last five seasons as head coach at Nokomis, and previously coached at Dexter, said. "That's a good problem to have. I'm getting a lot of kids out for football for the first time."
The team took part in summer 7-on-7 passing leagues, and the Mustangs are quickly learning Pratt's system.
"The kids have never thrown the football much," Pratt said. "Whatever I do to them, they ask me to work them harder. I'm really excited. The kids are very enthusiastic."
Mt. View will scrimmage at Bucksport on Monday.
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Around the state: Donald Goodrich, who won the Fitzpatrick Trophy as a senior at Cheverus last season, is a finalist for the National Football Foundation's Scholar Athlete Award. The award will be presented on Dec. 10 at a ceremony in New York. Goodrich is now a freshman at the University of New Hampshire... Bucksport was the first team in the state to open the season, with a midnight practice Monday... Eight of the nine teams in the Pine Tree Conference Class B division will play one crossover game against a Western Maine opponent. Brewer will play each conference rival once and will not play a crossover. Three Western B teams, Falmouth, Fryeburg Academy and Oceanside, will not play a crossover game... According to the Maine Principals' Association football bulletin, the largest school playing football in the state is Thornton Academy, with 1,384 students. The smallest is Stearns of Millinocket, with 185.
Travis Lazarczyk -- 861-9242