BANGOR, Maine — Brothers Dan O’Connell and Matt O’Connell would rather be coaching in the first round of the high school football playoffs this weekend.
But Dan O’Connell’s John Bapst Crusaders experienced a rare rebuilding season this fall and missed out on postseason play in the LTC Class D ranks with a 2-6 record.
First-year head coach Matt O’Connell and the Nokomis of Newport Warriors finished with a 3-5 record good for sixth place in Eastern Maine Class C, but because the program is Class B by enrollment and temporarily playing down a class for competitive reasons, it is not eligible for postseason play.
Instead, the two teams are going to get together for an even more personal cause Friday when John Bapst and Nokomis square off in an exhibition game scheduled for 8 p.m. at Husson University.
The game originally was dubbed the “Coach O Bowl,” but the O’Connell brothers have chosen to rename it the “Mrs. O Bowl,” as a portion of the proceeds and a solicited donation during the game will be donated to the MS Society in their mother, Barbara O’Connell’s, name.
Barbara O’Connell has battled multiple sclerosis since 1981 and is confined to a wheelchair, but she plans to be in attendance at the game — although it has not been determined on which sideline she will sit.
“We think it’s a great opportunity to raise a little money for an important cause and also raise some awareness by using football as a vehicle,” said Dan O’Connell.
This possibility of this game had been discussed informally for a few weeks but officially came together early this week after each team concluded its regular-season schedule and players from both schools agreed to participate.
Dan O’Connell said both he and his brother would like to make this game an annual event — though in the future as a preseason meeting while leaving the week after the regular season for the start of their teams’ respective playoff runs.