MADISON — There aren’t as many Cobras roaming the football fields at Madison as there used to be.

A few years ago, almost two dozen Carrabec students joined the Madison/Carrabec football team. This season, just three players make the short trip from North Anson across the Kennebec River to Madison for practices and games, the lowest Carrabec turnout since the cooperative program began in 2009.

Madison head coach Scott Franzose thinks the low Carrabec turnout is a temporary blip

With numbers dwindling at Madison, Carrabec players joined the team in 2009. Prior to that first co-op season, 28 Carrabec students signed up to play football. Eventually, between 15 and 20 showed up. The move was a success, and many Carrabec players have played well and become key contributors for Madison over the six years of the program. In 2011, Carrabec’s Zach White represented the Bulldogs in the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl All-Star Game. Franzose noted former player Brendan Tolman as a key player, as well as Levi Murray, who was a co-captain on last season’s team and is now playing football at Maine Maritime Academy.

“We don’t really talk about the Carrabec-Madison thing. We’re all Bulldogs. Obviously, we have players from both sides of the bridge. We’d love to see more of them from both sides, really,” Franzose said.

The three Carrabec players on this season’s roster are junior Hunter Fernald, a wide receiver/linebacker; junior Eric Baker, a guard/defensive tackle, and AJ Giguere, a sophomore offensive lineman/defensive end. On Monday, both Baker and Giguere traveled with the junior varsity to play a game at Old Town, leaving Fernald the only Carrabec player at practice.

Fernald shrugged off the lack of football participation at Carrabec.

“Our school is pretty much a soccer-based school,” Fernald said. “I just like to play football. I started in sixth grade. I liked it and just kept playing.”

Franzose noted that more Carrabec students are playing football on Madison’s junior high team, with eight on the roster. He also noted that participation is down among Madison players, too.

“The thing is, numbers are down across the board. We’re down eight players from last year. Now, we’re probably 26 (players) healthy,” Franzose said.

The low participation hurts, considering that the combined enrollments of both schools is used to determine in which class Madison plays. According to the Maine Principals’ Association football bulletin for this season, the combined Madison-Carrabec enrollment is 526. That puts the Bulldogs squarely in the middle of Class C.

According to the MPA’s soccer bulletin for this season, Madison’s enrollment is 283. If that number was used to place the Bulldogs, they would be among the smallest football playing schools in Class D. In Eastern Maine, only Stearns (185) is smaller. In Western Class D, Madison would be ahead of just of Traip (273), Old Orchard Beach (268), Telstar (243) and Boothbay (217).

Still, the Bulldogs have been competitive recently. Dating back to last season, Madison has won three out of its last four games, and expects to contend for a playoff spot in Eastern C this fall.

“I work very hard to bring the rec level and the junior high together,” Franzose said. “To have a true feeder program, it’s got to be about foundation.”

In other sports, Madison and Carrabec are fierce rivals. On the football field, Fernald doesn’t see that. He only sees teammates.

“They treat us like a family,” Fernald said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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