OAKLAND — Caleb Bean is a three-year starter at guard for the Messalonskee High School football team. Still, with all the changes to the offense made by new head coach Brad Bishop, Bean’s incumbency just meant he was supposed to learn his new blocking schemes  and techniques quicker.

“We didn’t start off very good, but we had to get used to the new offense. I think we’re finally coming together, defense and offense,” Bean, who also starts at defensive end, said.

Since an 0-2 start, the Eagles have won three out of four games to plant themselves right in the middle of a tight Pine Tree Conference Class B playoff race. If Messalonskee wins its final two regular season games, at Hampden and at home against rival Lawrence, it will earn a home game for the first round of the playoffs.

Bean’s play on both sides of the ball will be an important factor.

“He’s a worker. He’s a great kid,” Bishop said. “He’s smart and he picks things up fast.”

This season, the Eagles abandoned the double wing offense run for years in favor of a more open wing-T attack. In the double wing, linemen leave little space between themselves when they line up for the play. The entire team blocks to the same point. Doing something different took some getting used to.

“The pulls aren’t as tight. It’s a lot more spread out, so you do get bigger holes that way. Different pull angles,” the 6-foot-2, 210 pound Bean said. “You have to take different steps. You have to pull deeper instead of just right down the line.”

Bean, who has played through an ankle injury for most of the season, felt he was starting to get a hang of the new offense early in preseason. It was during Messalonskee’s 49-41 win over defending Class B state champion Mt. Blue in Week 3 that Bean felt completely comfortable.

“I felt like I really knew it,” he said.

Added Bishop: “It’s still a work in progress. We’re doing things different, obviously. They’ve had to go through the terminology, the splits, the formations, every other thing. Overall, the kids are doing well. We’re getting better.”

Defensively, Bean has done a nice job preventing opponents from getting to the outside.

“There hasn’t been many quarterbacks who have broken contain. He doesn’t allow people to break contain,” Bishop said. “He’s tough off tackle, too. That’s a tough position to play.”

When asked what his best defensive effort of the season has been, Bean responded with the team’s best performance. It came last week, when the Eagles knocked off undefeated Brunswick 21-14 in overtime. Messalonskee became the first opponent to hold the Dragons under 34 points this season.

“I think everybody played well at Brunswick. Everybody started tackling well,” Bean said.

Bean started playing football in the seventh grade. For a while, he thought he liked playing offense and defense equally well. Now, Bean said, he prefers defense, for the physical aspects it brings to the game. What keeps him playing football is the contact, the challenge, and what he called “the rush of Friday nights.”

“I get here early, and I go out in the gym or something, and I think about my assignments,” Bean said of his pregame routine.

Bean doesn’t know if football is in his college plans. In Bishop’s mind, there’s no question Bean could play at the next level.

“He’s such a tireless kid. He could play college football. I know he could. He’d be a good find for somebody. He just has a great attitude, that’s the big thing,” Bishop said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
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