OAKLAND — The Messalonskee High School football team is conducting a physics experiment. Force equals mass times acceleration. If Jake Stinson, a 5-foot-10, 225-pound guard turned fullback, gets a 2-yard head start, how big will the hole that he creates be?

“It’s a big difference. Usually as guards, you only get a couple steps to get that motor going. But at fullback, you really get enough room to pack a punch,” Stinson, a senior captain, said. “I love it.”

An all-Pine Tree Conference Class A selection as a guard last season, Stinson is now the fullback in Messalonskee’s run-heavy double-wing offense. Not only is Stinson opening holes for teammates, he’s carrying the ball, too, and he gives the Eagles a dimension they haven’t had since Desmond Nutter played fullback in 2009.

“He’s really gotten his balance and his feet underneath him in the open field,” Messalonskee coach Wes Littlefield said of Stinson. “Now he’s starting to be that punishing runner that we’ve been wanting.”

After Messalonskee was eliminated from the conference semifinals at Lawrence last season, Littlefield began plotting the 2012 season. With a number of players returning on the offensive line, and the return of 1,000-yard wingback Corey McKenzie, the Eagles had the potential to be one of the top running teams in the conference. What he needed to compliment McKenzie’s shiftiness and speed, though, was a fullback like Nutter. A running back who could open holes as a lead blocker, and who was tough enough to gain the hard yards straight up the middle.

Although it meant taking a player who had earned second team all-PTC honors the previous season off the line, Littlefield saw his fullback in Stinson. While Stinson was working out at Littlefield’s Gym, the coach sprang the news.

“He came up to me and said ‘You’re going to be playing fullback this year.’ So I started training a little harder, getting ready for that,” Stinson said.

Stinson was a running back until he started playing in high school, so the change wasn’t too abrupt. Playing fullback in the double wing means lining up right behind the quarterback.

“Being a fullback in the double wing, stuff’s in your face real quick, so it’s not like lining up the ‘I,’ where you’re at least 3 yards deep,” Littlefield said.

In Messalonskee’s opening game, a 21-19 win over Cony, Stinson had just two carries for 6 yards. Last week at Lewiston, a 43-12 win for the Eagles, Stinson’s workload increased. He had 10 carries for 105 yards, including a stretch in the third quarter when he had five consecutive carries, gaining 51 yards and culminating with a 2-yard touchdown run.

Each of those five consecutive carries was the same play, simply called “wedge.”

“It was a challenge, but every time, I knew I had to get into the end zone,” Stinson said. “So I kept on moving, kept trucking.”

As a guard, Stinson was used to pulling out of his stance to make his blocks. As fullback, he’s doing much of the same type of blocking.

“The thing that helps Jake is, being a former lineman, he knows our blocking schemes. He knows how things are going to open up,” Littlefield said. “Our power play, being that kickout on the defensive end or corner, he’s really been a big help for us. The faster type teams have been able to, over the last couple years, stuff our fullback and kill our power play. We had to make that change this year.”

Added Stinson: “It’s the same techniques, you just get a little more of a head start in the backfield.”

With Stinson often as lead blocker, McKenzie is off to a strong start. Through two games, the junior has 404 yards and six touchdowns on 43 carries.

“That’s definitely going to help out Corey though, because when people start rotating their defense or start rotating their coverages to one side of the field, we’re able to hit back side on trap and some of our basic plays away from that,” Littlefield said.

Stinson, who also starts on the defensive line for the Eagles, is unsure if football beyond high school is in his future.

“I’m undecided on that now. We’ll see how things go after the season,” Stinson said.

Right now, Stinson just wants to continue to improve at his new position.

“Jake is really now starting to come into his own,” Littlefield said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]


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