June 23, 2018
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Unbeatens Bucksport, MCI to clash in LTC football showdown

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

Week 7 of the high school football season could have plenty of dramatic moments.

There’s a Class D battle of unbeatens in Pittsfield and showdowns among the league leaders in Eastern C.

And the Bangor Rams will seek to rebound from a last-second loss at Lewiston against undefeated Cheverus of Portland — a program that has won 40 of its last 41 games.

Bucksport (6-0) at MCI (6-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Pittsfield: Bucksport began the season as the preseason favorite in the LTC and the Golden Bucks have lived up to all expectations.

MCI, winless a year ago, anticipated some upward mobility this fall but has emerged as a serious contender for a conference championship.

Bucksport will have to find a way to contain MCI running back Jonathan Santiago, the LTC’s leading rusher. Santiago topped the 1,000-yard mark last week during a win at Washington Academy of East Machias. He also has scored 21 touchdowns.

Bucksport counters with a multifaceted attack guided by the conference’s most accurate passer in junior Matthew Stewart (41 of 65, 580 yards and nine TDs). The Golden Bucks also feature several other playmakers including the versatile Josh Gray, Jack Cyr, Asher Bowden and Nic Bishop.

This could mark the first of two straight unbeaten foes to end the regular season for Bucksport, who next week will face Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln. The Lynx also will seek to improve to 7-0 at home against Dexter this Friday night.

Waterville (6-0) at MDI (4-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Bar Harbor: MDI had one of its most satisfying regular-season victories in recent years last weekend as Teagan Candage’s touchdown with six seconds remaining lifted the Trojans to its 21-14 victory at Foxcroft.

Now coach Mark Shields’ club faces another huge challenge in its run to the Eastern C playoffs against a Waterville club that has scored at least 50 points in five of its victories.

“They’re big everywhere,” said Shields. “They’re big up front, their running backs are big, strong kids and they have plenty of them. The first time I saw them I thought they looked like a small-college team.”

Candage has been one of the division’s top rushers, teaming with Taner Bickford, Sandy Henggeler and quarterback Jonathan Phelps to key MDI’s ground game.

Cheverus (6-0) at Bangor (3-3), 1 p.m. Saturday: Bangor suffered what could be seen as a devastating loss last week, as the Rams took the lead with 42 seconds left only for Lewiston to then drive down the field to secure its 31-29 victory.

But Bangor coach Mark Hackett and his team are focusing on the brighter side.

“When you look at it, we played better against Lewiston than we did the week before, we just didn’t win the game,” he said. “The kids know that.”

Bangor’s quest to earn a home game in the first round of the Eastern A playoffs runs headlong into a Cheverus program that has averaged 52.7 points per game this season and is coming off a 46-7 dominance of defending state champion Thornton Academy of Saco.

“We’re playing the best team in the state, and it’s an awesome opportunity,” said Hackett.

One of Bangor’s main challenges will be to contain Joe Fitzpatrick, Eastern A’s leading rusher with more than 1,100 yards and 21 touchdowns after his 261-yard, six-touchdown performance against Thornton.

“He’s the best running back I’ve seen,” said Hackett. “He’s very crafty and he’s fast when he gets into the open field. He just knows how to run.”

Foxcroft Academy (4-2) at Winslow (6-0), 1 p.m. Saturday: The phrase “unfinished business” has come up when Winslow players have been asked in recent days about this matchup, referring to Foxcroft’s 22-20 edging of the Black Raiders in last year’s Class C final.

Winslow, a Western Maine team in 2012, is back in the East this year and has cruised through its early schedule behind running backs Zack Guptill and Dylan Hapworth.

Foxcroft is coming off rare back-to-back home losses — both last-minute decisions — against Waterville and MDI.

The Ponies have been banged up along the line of scrimmage in recent weeks, but are hopeful the return of some injured players will re-ignite a ground game featuring Peter Boyer and Corey Bjornson to go with the passing combination of quarterback Hunter Law and wideout Hunter Smith.

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