BAR HARBOR, Maine — The Maine Central Institute field hockey team moved up a class this year and won a state championship.
The Pittsfield school’s football team is going to get a chance to do the same thing next weekend.
Coach Tom Bertrand’s Huskies, the 2016 Class D state champion, used stellar defense to shut down a high-scoring Mount Desert Island offense and pulled away in the second half to defeat the Trojans 27-6 in the Class C North championship game Saturday night.
The win earned MCI its fourth consecutive regional championship, the first three in Class D before being moved up to Class C by enrollment this year,
“We knew we could be here,” said Bertrand. “We knew we could, we didn’t know if we would.”.
Sixth-ranked MCI (7-4) will face Cape Elizabeth (8-2) for the state title in a 7 p.m. start next Friday at the University of Maine in Orono. No. 1 Cape Elizabeth defeated No. 4 Gardiner 35-13 in Friday night’s Class C South final.
Top-ranked MDI, the defending Class C North champion, had a nine-game winning streak ended and concluded its season at 9-2.
MCI’s offense amassed 302 total yards and dominated time of possession throughout the contest, while the Huskies’ defense generated five quarterback sacks and forced three turnovers, while limiting MDI to one big play, an 80-yard run by Colby Lee that staked the Trojans to a 6-0 lead midway through the opening quarter.
MCI, which relied on the run during its first two possessions of the game, went to the short passing game with great success after taking the ensuing kickoff.
Freshman quarterback Ryan Friend alternated between passing to David Young on his right and T.J. Kuespert on his left, completing six straight passes for 49 yards to go with a 12-yard run by Seth Bussell as the Huskies drove 61 yards in seven plays to score the equalizing touchdown on a 5-yard pass from Friend to Pedro Matos with 2:58 left in the first quarter.
Devon Varney’s extra-point kick gave MCI a 7-6 lead it ultimately took into intermission.
MCI finished the half with 38 plays from scrimmage compared to 19 plays for MDI.
Pedro Matos returned the second-half kickoff 52 yards to set up MCI at the MDI 29, and it took the Huskies just six plays to cash in on the golden field position, with Bussell powering over from the 1 to extend the lead to 14-6 after Varney’s extra-point kick with 9:32 left in the third period.
Lee countered with a long kickoff return to the MCI 47, then had a 10-yard gain along with a facemask penalty against the Huskies that advanced the ball inside the 25.
But an illegal procedure penalty set the Trojans back 5 yards before a third-down sack of Phelps by Kuespert and Isaac Bussell produced a 12-yard loss that forced MDI to punt.
MCI then went on a ground-and-pound march of epic proportions, driving 88 yards in 20 plays with Adam Bertrand scoring on a 1-yard sneak to give the Huskies a 20-6 advantage with seven minutes to play.
The drive was aided by an occasional bit of trickery
MCI amassed 73 rushing yards during the drive, including a 5-yard run by Bertrand on a fake punt for a first down at the Huskies 26.
“We were going to punt,” said Bertrand, “but we decided we needed to change the momentum of the game a little bit and keep it in our favor. We couldn’t just give the ball up to them.”.
Bertrand later threw a halfback option pass to Matos for a 15-yard gain to the MDI 10, and three plays later, Bertrand powered into the end zone on a fourth-and-goal play.
Varney kicked a 22-yard field goal with 3:03 left, but MCI opted to maintain possession and take the points off the board after MDI was whistled for a personal foul on the play.
The Huskies were able to run more time off the clock, with Bertrand scoring from the 1 with 2:14 to play.
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