THORNDIKE, Maine — It was more than just another preseason scrimmage for the Mount View High School football team Monday.
It was a chance to play at home.
The Mustangs, who played home games during their first five years of varsity existence first at neighboring Belfast Area High School and more recently at Larrabee Field a few miles away from the school in Knox, are playing and practicing on two brand-new fields on campus this season, including Monday’s controlled scrimmage against Madison-Carrabec.
“It was very exciting,” said Mount View coach Jack Brady. “It’s as good a field as there is.”
The Mustangs had hoped to play at their on-campus site for the last two years, but school officials wanted to make sure the newly created practice and game fields were fully ready.
Mount View hosted a track meet on the track surrounding the football game field last spring, and now the football program can both practice and play games without stepping off campus.
“The kids and the coaching staff were just a little anxious to be able to play at home,” said Brady, whose team qualified for the LTC Class C playoffs last fall.
“It’s nice not having to get off a bus to go play, even when it is just three miles away from home. It’s special to walk out of your locker room and be right on your own field.”
Mount View will hit the road for its preseason exhibition game at Belfast at 7 p.m. Saturday, then open its regular season at Stearns of Millinocket on Aug. 31 before playing its first home game on its new field against John Bapst of Bangor at 1 p.m. Sept. 8.
The preseason progression
The high school football preseason is marked by a series of steps — noncontact practices followed by contact practices and a controlled scrimmage and finally an exhibition game leading up to the first of eight or nine game weeks that comprise the regular season.
It’s with those steps in mind that coaches have different objectives for their teams’ scrimmages than they do for the exhibition games that follow — often just three nights later.
“In the scrimmage we’re still looking to see if guys can play,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett, whose team hosted Lewiston on Monday. That scrimmage also marked the Rams’ first full-contact opportunity of the preseason.
Bangor will field a fairly veteran team this fall, including at the offensive skill positions where quarterback Carl Farnham, tailback Cody Chapman, wingback Zeb Tuell and fullback Cain Corkum lead the list of returning players.
“We were very happy with guys we were looking at who were sort of on the bubble but could help us this year,” Hackett said. “They all performed well, which is unusual because usually one or two of them do well and the others struggle a little bit.
“We want all the guys to feel comfortable, to do their assignments and not make mental mistakes, and that part of it we did well,” he said.
Mount View graduated 14 seniors from its 2011 LTC playoff team and will attempt to contend again this season behind its play along the line of scrimmage.
“In our 10-on-10 scrimmage we’re just looking to take a look at kids we think can play and see how they do when they’re out there,” said fifth-year Mount View coach Jack Brady.
“In the exhibition game it’s more a case of working the bugs out to get ready for the regular season and find out where we’re at, where we’re strong and what we need to continue work on.”
Both coaches expect the intensity to increase this weekend when Bangor and Mount View hit the road for their exhibition games.
Bangor will play at Hampden Academy on Friday night, while Mount View will trek to Belfast on Saturday. Both games are set for a 7 p.m. opening kickoff.
“What we lacked [Monday] was a little zip and a little excitement. That’s what we’re looking for Friday night,” said Hackett.
“Friday night is the real deal, we play it like it’s a regular game. The major difference is one we play like a real game because they keep score and the [scrimmage] we just try to work on things.”