Two years ago, coach Tom Bertrand helped his Maine Central Institute team fight through an 0-8 season. The 2012 season included a 72-0 loss at Foxcroft Academy, but Bertrand knew his young team would improve.

Now, the Huskies are one of the top teams in the Little Ten Conference. While they’re in position to win games in historically dominating fashion, like they did in Friday’s 81-6 win at Ellsworth, Bertrand hopes those types of games are rarities.

“I’ve been on the other side of those. You try to be considerate of the other team, but at the same time, if you’re on the field, you have to go hard,” Bertrand said.

Ellsworth and MCI are teams in completely different places, goal-wise, this season. Ellsworth is a program in its third season of varsity play, and the Eagles have yet to win a game. Ellsworth hopes to continue the process of learning how to play football.

MCI, on the other hand, is a contender for the LTC title, a veteran team deep in the skill positions.

“We have big games with Dexter and Bucksport coming up, so to sit our kids after the first quarter was going to be difficult,” Bertrand said. “It’s not something I’m looking to do to other teams.”

Deciding when to take the starters out of a blowout is a difficult decision for any coach. It was made tougher on Friday night when MCI’s backups and junior varsity continued to score. MCI amassed 640 yards of total offense, and at one point, had nine touchdowns on just 18 plays from scrimmage.

Bertrand played his starters for the entire first half and a series into the third quarter. The junior varsity players finished the game, and they continued to score. Third-string running Willie Moss, for example, carried the ball three times. He scored three touchdowns and ran for 127 yards.

“It’s one of those things where, it wasn’t stopping. And we can’t stop playing,” Bertrand said.

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Waterville Senior High School’s coaching staff used the preseason scrimmage with Belfast and exhibition game against Maine Central Institute to tinker with the defense, finding the right combination.

“We were moving people around. We had to see who wanted to play that tough, inside interior defense, and I think we’ve narrowed it down,” Waterville head coach Matt Gilley said.

Whatever Gilley and his staff did worked. The Purple Panthers defense controlled the line of scrimmage in Saturday’s 36-14 win over Foxcroft Academy. The Ponies gained just 22 yards in the first half, and did not gain a first down until midway through the third quarter.

“We just moved some people around,” Gilley said.

Waterville’s moves included Shahzaib Khan to outside linebacker, Trevor Gray to defensive line, and Alex Danner to middle linebacker. Waterville forced three turnovers. Foxcroft finished with 177 yards of offense, 91 of those coming of two pass plays in the second half.

Waterville plays next on Friday night at Hermon.

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Skowhegan coach Matt Friedman had a lot to be pleased with in Friday’s 47-12 win at Mt. Ararat, especially senior linebacker Gus Benson, who had 15 tackles, forced a fumble, and had a fumble recovery.

“I think Gus is one of the top linebackers in our conference,” Friedman said. “He just has a great nose for the ball.”

Quarterback Nathan Morris made his first varsity start. He ran for one touchdown and threw another.

“He threw the ball better than we had hoped,” Friedman said. “He’s fast, and that really helps us with the read.”

Running back Kaleb Brown has been nursing an ankle injury, and was limited to 12 carries. Friedman said Brown is all set for Friday’s game at Messalonskee.

“Kaleb’s better than he was all of preseason,” Friedman said.

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With starting quarterback Cole Robinson out with a shoulder injury, Lawrence used Cody Martin under center, and he played well. Martin ran for a touchdown and threw a touchdown pass.

“Cody kind of battled. He persevered and stepped up when he had to. He made a couple nice runs, one that set up a touchdown right before the half,” Lawrence head coach John Hersom said. “That was good to see, where he set up our offense on third down with a pretty good gain. He completed some nice throws and managed the offense. He worked out fine.”

Robinson could be back for Friday’s game against Mt. Blue.

“We’re still trying to see how Cole responds to a little bit of contact this week. Cole had done some throwing over the weekend and said it felt fine, but we have to see how it feels with the contact. If he’s capable, where he could go both ways, we’ll have him ready for offense,” Hersom said.

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Around the state: Houlton lost its debut game to Orono, 28-12. The last team to win its first varsity game was Nokomis. The Warriors beat Old Town in their first varsity game, in 2007 … Three of the four defending state champions won in week one. Class C Leavitt was the lone loss, a 35-34 overtime decision to Cape Elizabeth … Week one was a week for blowouts. Just eight of the 36 games played were decided by 10 points or fewer.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM