PITTSFIELD — Depth is a tough commodity in Class C football, and the Maine Central Institute Huskies are no exception.
While just more than 30 players are dressed in maroon and white this preseason, that doesn’t mean head coach Tom Bertrand hasn’t liked what he has seen from a club that suffered some hefty graduation losses.
“We lost a lot of seniors from last year’s team, (but) it always provides an opportunity for new guys who have been playing in backup roles to step up and show what they’re capable of,” Bertrand said. “We have had a great summer, we had more involvement in the summer than I’ve ever had.”
MCI broke through with a run to the LTC semifinals last fall and hosted its first postseason game since an Eastern Maine title run in 2000 in the process.
Fortunately, the Huskies had a talented junior class last season, and a number of those players, including quarterback Patrick Noonan, running backs Adam Ogden and Dylan Mower and receivers Trey Vintinner, Tanner Littlefield and Zach Valente are primed to step into larger roles as seniors.
“Luckily, we had a little depth last year at the skill positions where we were able to put a lot of guys out there,” Bertrand said. “You just build around that, so you try to continue to do that. We’ve got a lot of confidence in the kids we’re going to be putting on the field.”
That’s the one area in which MCI will have depth again this fall, and Bertrand will try to utilize that offensively.
“We’re going to try to spread the ball around, try to create mismatches,” he said. “I have an offense that’s diverse enough where we’re able to do that. That’s going to be big for us.”
The same could possibly be said for the Huskies on the defensive side of the ball.
“We’re going to be versatile enough to adjust to the different looks that we see,” said Bertrand. “We’re going to have to re-teach something week in and week out.”
Bertrand has also been happy with the work ethic of his players thus far.
“It’s never been a problem for me to get a good effort out of my teams, this is no exception,” he said. “The kids are working exceptionally hard and competing for some spots, so that’s great.”
MCI will host Orono in a mutual opener Friday at 7 p.m.
2010 results: 6-4, lost in LTC semifinals
Head Coach: Tom Bertrand, 9th year
Key Players: Adam Ogden, RB-LB, Sr.; Trey Vintinner, WR-DB, Sr.; Jake McGowan, OL-LB, Sr.; Patrick Noonan, QB-DB, Sr.; Matt Thompson, OL-DL, Sr.; Dylan Mower, RB-LB, Sr.; Zach Valente, WR-DB, Sr.; Briar Bussell, OL-DL, So.; Tanner Littlefield, WR-DB, So.
Outlook: MCI enjoyed one of its finest seasons in recent memory last fall by advancing to the LTC semifinals. If the Huskies want to repeat that success, staying healthy will be key, as they don’t have a large wealth of depth. Look for MCI to feature a healthy mix of run and pass on offense.