The Mt. Blue High School football team entered the 2012 season with high expectations. After losing the Pine Tree Conference Class B championship game by a point in double overtime in 2011, the Cougars entered 2012 with the single goal of winning the gold ball.

“You always worry that your team’s not going to make improvements,” Mt. Blue coach Gary Parlin said. “When you have a big nucleus of kids coming back, you sometimes don’t see improvement like you do with other teams.”

That wasn’t the case with Mt. Blue. The Cougars got better each week. A close game with Mt. Desert Island in the first round of the regional tournament only doubled the team’s resolve

Parlin’s Cougars won the Class B state title with a thrilling 44-42 victory over Marshwood. Mt. Blue (12-0) was the only undefeated team in the state in 2012. For leading Mt. Blue to its first state championship since 1980, Gary Parlin is the Morning Sentinel Football Coach of the Year.

John Hersom of Lawrence, who coached the Bulldogs to a second consecutive PTC A championship, and Mike Siviski of Winslow, who led the Black Raiders to the Class C state championship game, their first state game appearance since 2006, were also considered.

This was Parlin’s 20th season as Mt. Blue’s head coach. Parlin now has 126 career wins.

“He’s a great coach. He loves all of us. He takes care of us. He knows football. I love the offense he runs. It’s a great offense,” senior quarterback Jordan Whitney said of Parlin.

Even with a veteran team, Parlin was not above making changes. Before the season, all-conference defensive end Chad Luker was moved to linebacker, with impressive results. During the season, Parlin installed a short yardage run play for the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Luker. The play became a staple of the Cougar offense, particularly in the playoffs, where Luker ran for 280 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“Who would have thought in any way, shape or form, that Chad Luker would have been the ‘I’ back for us halfway through the season? We put that in just as a short yardage play. Then all of a sudden, we’re getting six, seven, eight yards a crack with this,” Parlin said. “Bradley Jackson was a good lead blocker. I saw it as maybe a play we’d run once or twice a game, and it became a pretty big part of our offense.”

Parlin passed the credit for keeping the Cougars motivated on to his senior class, which provided leadership through hard work throughout the season.

“Honestly, it wasn’t anything (the coaches) did. Our seniors took ownership of practicing hard every day,” Parlin said. “I’m not a big believer in pregame speeches. If I have to do some rah rah thing to get a kid ready to play football 20 minutes before we play, he’s not ready to play anyway. The seniors handled all that. The good teams that we’ve had here, when they hear it from their peers, it sinks in. That’s the reason we were able to improve.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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