LTC kicks off wide open season in exciting fashion

Posted Sept. 11, 2008, at 12:05 a.m.

If the opening week of play is any indication, LTC football fans should be in for an exciting season.

In addition to Mattanawcook Academy’s 14-12 victory at Fox-croft on Friday night, Orono rallied from a 20-0 first-quarter deficit to top Rockland 28-20 while Bucksport outlasted John Bapst of Bangor 40-39 in over-time on Saturday night behind a 322-yard rushing outburst by senior Nate Warren.

“If nothing else, it proves the league is wide open,” said John Bapst coach Dan O’Connell. “I went and saw Rockland and Orono on Friday and it was one way for a half and then totally flip-flopped. I don’t know that a lot of people gave MA a shot to beat [Foxcroft], but they played tough.

“I know in this locker room we thought we had a shot to-night, I think some people will be surprised when they see the score, but I think that’s going to keep happening every week.”

The Bucksport-John Bapst game bordered on the remark-able, given the offensive effi-ciency for the first week of the season amid rainy conditions that steadily worsened throughout the evening.

The teams combined for 742 total yards and 11 offensive touchdowns while committing just two turnovers — one an interception returned for a touchdown by John Bapst’s Chase Huckestein.

The game also featured five lead changes and two ties.

“They gave us everything we could handle, we gave them everything and it was just like two boxers counter-punching and coming back and coming back,” said Bucksport coach Joel Sankey, whose team went 5-4 in 2007 but missed making the playoffs through a three-way tiebreaker.

“When you look at what hap-pened in the league [Friday],” added Sankey, “I think it shows just how balanced the league is, and that there are a number of different teams that can be up there. It’s going to be fun.”

LTC games this weekend have 1-0 Maine Central Insti-tute of Pittsfield at 1-0 Buck-sport, 1-0 Stearns of Millinocket at 1-0 Mattanawcook, 1-0 Orono at 1-0 Old Town and 0-1 Mount View of Thorndike at 0-1 Rock-land on Friday night, and 0-1 Foxcroft at 0-1 Dexter and 0-1 John Bapst at 0-1 Calais-Woodland on Saturday.

“I don’t think we’re going to know in Week 4 or 5 who the clear-cut favorite is,” said O’Connell. “The cream is going to rise to the top like it always does, but it may not be until November and that’s the way you want it.”

Transition time

High school football players routinely are asked to change positions for the good of the team.

Bangor High School junior Brian Higgins is making a fairly unique switch on offense this fall — from quarterback to fullback.

“The first few weeks it was kind of tough because I was used to not being as physical,” said Higgins, who also plays linebacker for coach Mark Hackett’s club. “The coaches were trying to push me just to run and find the person and hit the first thing that shows — to get physical.

“Our two preseason games helped a lot, just getting into a real game and seeing how it would feel in a game at full speed instead of practice.”

Higgins earned the start at fullback in Bangor’s season-opening 34-19 win at Messalonskee of Oakland Friday night.

Higgins did not carry the ball, but his blocking helped the Rams amass 213 rushing yards on 32 carries, or 6.7 yards per rush.

He also caught two passes for 22 yards.

“I like that,” said Higgins of running pass routes. “The line moves, and I work my way around them and get in the flats and then look for the ball.”

Higgins is one of two former Bangor quarterbacks now play-ing other positions for the Rams this fall. Tyler Pembroke, a senior captain, is now a wide receiver who made a 51-yard pass reception to set up a Bangor touchdown against Messalonskee.

Having the mindset of a quarterback should prove to be beneficial for both Higgins and Pembroke as they work within the Bangor offense with sophomore quarterback Joe Seccareccia.

“It helps a lot,” said Higgins, “because we know what Joe Sac’s thinking. If I’m out in the flat, I can see it in his eyes when he’s going to run, so I just turn to block.

“Being a former quarterback, you know what he’s thinking, what he’s going to do, where he wants to go and where he’ll find the holes.”

Bangor, which starts just three seniors on offense and has just three starters back from last year’s team that advanced to the Eastern Maine Class A final, returns to action Friday night at Brunswick be-fore facing two-time defending regional champion Lawrence of Fairfield in the Rams’ home opener on Sept. 19.

“We’ve made improvements from our first preseason games, but we still have a ways to go as far as getting physical and knowing what’s going on,” said Higgins.

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