BAR HARBOR, Maine —There are plenty of new faces wearing Mount Desert Island High School football uniforms this season.
And there also are a lot of Trojans who will be making the transition from backup to starter.
But 10th-year head coach Mark Shields has led Mount Desert Island to six consecutive Pine Tree Conference Class B playoff berths and that will be the goal again this season as his players mature, gain experience and try to win enough games to make it seven in a row.
He has several players, including upperclassmen, who are playing football for the first time.
“We’re very inexperienced,” said Shields. “We graduated our entire backfield. Our quarterback and three running backs are gone. We’re trying to fill the holes there and the guys have done OK.”
His new-look backfield opened the season against a good Waterville team and was beaten 36-14 Friday night.
“They were the better team,” said Shields. “They have more experience, an athletic quarterback [Aidan Fitzgerald] who can throw the ball well and a couple of guys who can catch it.
“Nobody likes to lose but I knew they were going to be a handful for us,” added Shields. “We learned a lot from that game.
“I’m happy with the kids’ attitudes and with the turnout” of 40 players, Shields said. “We have some good young players.”
Hearing-impaired junior Jonathan Phelps is the new quarterback and Shields has been impressed.
“I’ve been really pleased with him,” said Shields. “He’s really athletic. He throws a decent ball and he runs very well. He’s one of our faster guys.”
Shields took a sign language class at the high school and has found it to be “really helpful.”
He said Phelps reads lipsvery well and can hear some things.
“It has gone real well,” said Shields. “He works real hard. He studies the playbook and the [scouting reports] on opposing teams.”
Senior Trevor Alley will become much more prominent as a bruising 200-plus pound fullback.
“He can run over people and drag tacklers,” said Shields.
“He’s a bull,” said senior left guard-linebacker Ezra Hallett, one of the captains.
The list of running backs includes senior Tom Reilly, junior Teagan Candage and sophomores Jalique Keene and Sandy Hangler along with freshman Taner Bickford.
One of the strengths of the team will be the left side of the offensive line which is manned by three-year starters Isaac Wallace at center, Hallett at guard and Adam Gray at tackle.
The loss of senior captain Colton Sanborn for the year due to a broken wrist will hurt the right side of the line. Senior Drew DaGraca and junior Chapin McFarland are first-year football players and will see time at right guard and right tackle, respectively. Kieran Rush, Dakota Stewart and Jesse Alley will be the ends.
Hallett anchors the defense and was a first team All-Pine Tree Conference Class B choice at linebacker year ago.
“He’s the real deal. He hits hard,” said Shields.
Trevor Alley is the nose tackle and is hard to block, Shields said.
“He wreaked havoc against Waterville,” said Shields, who noted that the versatile Alley also handles all of the kicking chores.
Wallace, McFarland and Gray will be the other interior linemen with junior Dylan Carroll another possibility although he can will also see time at linebacker.
Sanborn would have started at linebacker.
Junior Dylan Richardson will get reps at linebacker with Phelps being the free safety and Reilly manning a cornerback slot along with senior Aaron Bouchard, who is recovering from a concussion.
Phelps returned an interception 95 yards for a TD against Waterville.
Sophomore Andy Hanscome will see duty at cornerback and Candage will spell Phelps at safety.
Hallett said he expects the team to improve steadily.
“We definitely have a real young team. We’ve got some guys who have never played football before but they’ve been some of the players who have stepped up for us. And they’re only going to get better,” said Hallett. “We’ve got a bunch of good athletes.”
He said the newcomers have great attitudes and have shown a willingness to learn.
“They’ve put in the effort and that makes me want to work even harder,” said the 245-pound Hallett. “If we can get a few wins early and the new players gain some confidence, we could be a pretty good football team.”
2011 results: 5-4, lost to Mt. Blue in PTC Class B quarterfinals
Coach: Mark Shields, 10th year
Key players: QB-S Jonathan Phelps, Jr., LB-OG Ezra Hallett, Sr., RB-CB Tom Reilly, Sr., FB-MG Trevor Alley, Sr., C-DT Isaac Wallace, Sr., OT-DT Adam Gray, Sr. , RB-S Teagan Candage, Jr., LB-DT Dylan Carroll, Jr., RB Jalique Keene, So., LB Dylan Richardson, Jr.
Outlook: The Trojans will be seeking a seventh straight playoff spot and they will be a work in progress. They have some talented underclassmen and a group of players, upperclassmen as well as underclassmen, who are playing football for the first time. As a result, this team should show dramatic improvement from the beginning to the end of the season if it can stay healthy. Phelps is doing a nice job as a first-year starter at quarterback and Trevor Alley is a hard-nosed fullback. All-PTC linebacker Hallett is a quality commodity on both sides of the ball.