FARMINGTON — For a year now, the Mt. Blue High School football team has been motivated by the pain that one point in Turner tattooed into their collective memory. Leavitt’s 2-point conversion in the second overtime in last season’s Pine Tree Conference Class B championship game ended the Cougars 2011 season one game short of its goal.
On Friday night at Kemp Field, the Cougars left no doubt they’re the best team in the conference. Top-seeded Mt. Blue took a 42-14 win over No. 6 Waterville to earn a spot in the Class B state championship game, which will be played next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. The win didn’t erase the sting of last season’s tough loss at Leavitt, but it certainly helped that pain fade.
“Worst feeling I’ve ever felt (was) last year that last game. Best feeling walking off the field right now. I’ve been waiting since last year,” Mt. Blue fullback/linebacker Chad Luker, who ran for four touchdowns and 74 yards, said.
Mt. Blue, now 11-0, will face the winner of today’s Western Class B championship game between York and Marshwood. Waterville ends the season at 6-5.
“They’re a really good football team. We fought hard, but they were better and they beat us,” Waterville coach Frank Knight said.
The Cougars are known for their wide open spread offense, but on this night, Mt. Blue’s best weapon wasn’t the Cougar Gun, it was a Cougar Fist. Mt. Blue played smashmouth football, running 48 times for 367 yards. The Cougars didn’t throw one pass in the second half, handing the ball to Luker and Calan Lucas (17 carries for 148 yards), while quarterback Jordan Whitney ran 12 times for 90 yards.
“Our offensive line did a nice job, and (Luker) is tough to tackle,” Mt. Blue coach Gary Parlin said. “I guess that may be the understatement tonight.”
Luker put the Cougars on the board three and a half minutes into the game with a 5-yard touchdown run. After Mt. Blue forced Waterville to punt, Whitney’s 23-yard run pushed Mt. Blue’s lead to 14-0 with 5:55 left in the first quarter.
The Panthers had tweaked their defense to counter Mt. Blue’s wide open attack, but Knight said they quickly went back to their traditional 52 front.
“We don’t like to change defenses. We’ve been getting better at running that 52, but we thought we’d do some other things,” Knight said. “It ended up not working out for us. We went back to what got us here, we just fell short.”
With 1:29 left in the second quarter, Luker scored on a 10-yard run to push Mt. Blue’s lead to 21-0. That’s when Waterville made the game close.
Racean Wood returned the ensuing kick 47 yards to the Mt. Blue 47. Three plays later, Aidan FitzGerald threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Nick Danner. The pass went through the hands of Mt. Blue defensive back Andrew Pratt into Danner’s grasp. The extra point failed, and it was 21-6 with 35.4 seconds left.
On the first play of Mt. Blue’s next series, Brian Bellows anticipated a Whitney quick screen pass to Nate Backus. Bellows jumped in front of Whitney’s pass and went 24 yards for the score. Bellows threw the 2-point conversion pass to Danner, and in the span of 14 seconds, Waterville had cut Mt. Blue’s lead to 21-14.
Parlin said that interception was not a factor in his decision to stick exclusively to the run game in the second half.
“It wasn’t because of that. I think if it’s 21-0 we would’ve done the same thing,” Parlin said. “I totally trust Jordan Whitney (6 for 9, 71 yards passing) anytime he touches the ball.”
The Cougars held the Panthers three-and-out on the first series of the third quarter, and answered with a 3-yard Luker touchdown run for a 28-14 lead midway through the quarter.
“We knew we were getting the ball in the second half,” Knight said. “That’s a very important possession and we weren’t able to capitalize on it. That would have been an opportunity for us to stay in the game, make it more competitive, but hey, that’s why they’re undefeated.”
Luker scored his fourth touchdown with 6:40 left in the game, this time on a 2-yard run. Lucas added a 4-yard touchdown run with 1:58 to play.
Throughout the second half, the Cougar used a power formation, and it featured 670 pounds of running back, with Luker (210 pounds) the deep back and Zac Kendall (265 pounds) and Bradley Jackson (195 pounds) serving as lead blockers.
“The first half, I was actually kind of wondering why we were throwing the ball. It wasn’t working too great, we just weren’t having a good pass day,” Luker said. “We have a formation called Elephant. It’s just unbalanced, big boys in the backfield. We put it right down their throat.”
Added Parlin: “Kendall is a devastating blocker. That’s why he hasn’t been in the pass game as much, we don’t want to split him out.”
Waterville had one drive run deep into Mt. Blue territory in the second half, before losing the ball on downs at the Cougar 23. Wood led the Panthers with 82 yards on 16 carries.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242