When Old Town hosts Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor in a signature game of the final weekend of high school football’s regular season, a first-round playoff bye and perhaps even the top seed in Class C North could be at stake.
But also on full display on Friday night at Victory Field in Old Town will be the perseverance of those two communities to provide competitive football experiences for their high school kids.
MDI went a combined 4-31 from 2001 through 2004 — culminating in an 0-9 campaign in 2004 when the Trojans were outscored by a combined 386-34.
But the continuing work of the local Acadian Football League has helped provide the high school program a strong feeder system in recent years, enabling veteran head coach Mark Shields to mold the Trojans into a consistent playoff contender.
The woes at OId Town may have been even greater, with the Coyotes compiling a 4-62 record between 2002 and 2009 — a run that threatened the program’s existence. But the program played down a class for several seasons, stabilized its feeder program and now arrives at Week 8 of the 2015 campaign undefeated and tied for first place with defending state champion Winslow.
Consider this matchup not only a measure of how far these two programs have rallied, but an example of the possibilities for any program experiencing similar difficulties.
Mount Desert Island Trojans (6-1) at Old Town Coyotes (7-0), 7 p.m. Friday: Both teams have generated plenty of points this fall, albeit in slightly different ways.
Big plays have been a forte for an Old Town club that averages 39.4 points per game, with versatile senior Andre Miller capable of creating instant offense catching or running the ball offensively, on defense or on special teams.
Miller leads a deep cast of skill-position players that also includes senior quarterback Jake Jarvis, junior halfback T.J. Crawford, senior fullback Dana Ouellette and senior wide receiver Pascal Cyr.
MDI, which gave Winslow its stiffest test of the year in Week 3 before dropping a 35-20 decision, relies more on a ball-control attack led by senior halfback Taner Bickford and sophomore fullback Croix Albee.
MDI, which has averaged 35.6 points per game, also has its own passing threat in sophomore quarterback Andrew Phelps, while junior Drew Rich has been a special-teams weapon with two punt returns for touchdowns.
The two most likely playoff scenarios to emerge from this showdown — provided 7-0 Winslow also defeats 1-6 Waterville on Saturday — are that an Old Town victory would leave the Coyotes tied with Winslow for first with MDI third in Class C North while an MDI win would leave Winslow first, MDI second and Old Town third.
In the first case, since Winslow and Old Town did not meet during the regular season and have identical schedules, a coin toss would determine first and second places though both teams would earn a first-round bye. MDI would host a quarterfinal game.
In the second case, Winslow and MDI would finish first and second, respectively, and receive first-round byes next weekend while third-place Old Town would host a quarterfinal.