BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor High School football program boasts a strong tradition, with six state championships since 1973 and appearances in the Class A title game as recently as 2009 and 2010.
Returning to a more competitive status after a rare winless campaign last fall begins with a return to what has worked in the past, according to Rams head coach Alan Mosca.
“It’s very positive and very fundamentally driven,” said Bangor’s third-year leader of his team’s preseason focus. “We’ve really just gone back to basics with everything and the kids have been very receptive.
“It’s a carryover from the summer. We had a great summer of creating and building enthusiasm for the love of the game.”
Bangor’s football formula this fall will feature formations familiar to those who have followed the program over the years, namely the run-oriented “I” set on offense and a 5-2 defensive alignment.
“I thought about it for a while,” said Mosca. “We did some spread stuff the last couple of years, but you’ve got to do something you’re familiar with and I grew up coaching for Gabby Price, I grew up coaching for Mark Hackett. I know the ‘I’ and a 52 defense like the back of my hand, so why not go back to it?
“I talked to the kids at the end of last season and told them that’s what we were going back to and they’ve embraced it 100 percent.”
Mosca said not only is there a comfort level with those offensive and defensive sets within the program, but he believes this year’s roster composition lends itself to a physical, “ground-and-pound” style of play.
“Skill-wise in some positions we’re rather big, and I think that’s going to enable us to do some things that get us back to being Bangor, physically tough and fundamentally sound,” he said.
“We’re still going to throw the ball, but I just think personnel-wise … we’re doing plays that we ran back in 1992, and they seemed to work pretty well back then.”
Bangor will be led by a small but close-knit senior class featuring captains Luke Tuell, Nick Canarr and Alex Yakubu, a trio that should provide the Rams quality athletes at the skill positions.
“I think we’re in great condition, we’ve got kids who have put a lot of time in the weight room,” said Mosca. “The key is improving every day, building upon success from the prior day and the previous practice and getting kids to believe.
“I believe in these kids 110 percent. We have athletes and we have great kids who work hard. We just got to believe in each other, the guy beside us, the coaches and what we’re telling them, and we’ve got to believe that once the game starts we’re going to be successful.”
How that emphasis will translate into wins and losses this fall is uncertain, particularly given what could be improved depth within Class A North.
Portland, the two-time defending regional champion, returns 11 starters while Windham is strong along the line of scrimmage and Oxford Hills of South Paris returns one of the division’s top rushers in Dawson Stevens as well as a talented junior class.
Cheverus of Portland also figures to be strong, particularly on defense, while Lewiston and Edward Little of Auburn both return key veterans at the skill positions.
Bangor’s two crossover games against Class A South foes this fall will be at Sanford and home against Massabesic of Waterboro.
“Everybody has a lot of good players back, and there’s a lot of good coaches,” said Mosca. “It’s the SEC of Maine.”