With the season almost to the halfway point, no team in the state has shown as much depth in the backfield as Waterville Senior High School.

Through three games, the Purple Panthers were led in rushing yards by four different players. In Friday’s 47-23 win at Old Town, Cam Thomas and Jared Spear tied for the lead with 170 yards. In Week 2 at Hermon, it was Devin Begin. In the season-opening win over Foxcroft Academy, Alex Pressey led Waterville’s ground game.

Dan Pooler ran for 127 yards at Old Town, a game in which the Panthers gained 476 yards rushing.

“It’s a luxury having the backs we have,” Waterville coach Matt Gilley said. “The line is opening some holes anybody could run through, but we have some special backs we can cycle through so everybody is fresh. As coaches, it’s fantastic.”

Waterville’s backs run behind a veteran and talented offensive line. Center Ben Cox, guards Alex Danner and Brandon Choate, tackles Corey Huerfano and Dante Herman, and tight end Trevor Gray are doing the job, Gilley said.

“Those guys are doing what we expected them to do, and we’re going to go as far as the line takes us,” Gilley said.

The 3-0 Panthers host Nokomis on Saturday. Who will be the leading runner for Waterville is anybody guess, but Gilley expects the backs to continue playing unselfishly.

“I’m not sure we can ask anything else. The biggest thing is, they’re huddled around you on the sideline, dying to get in,” Gilley said. “Their attitude has been fantastic. We focus on team and being there for each other, and nowhere is that reflected more than in the running back corps.”

• • •

Winslow coach Mike Siviski was pleased with his team’s progress in Friday’s 49-8 win at Mt. Desert Island.

“Our defense played outstanding again. Offensively, we’re steadily improving,” Siviski said. “It was a nice all-sound team win.”

The Black Raiders (3-0) need to work out their kinks now, Siviski said, because the schedule for the defending Class C East champions gets rougher in the second half of the season. Starting Oct. 3, the Black Raiders play Belfast, Foxcroft Academy and Waterville, three strong playoff contenders, over three consecutive weeks.

“We’ve got to keep getting better, because that schedule is rough,” Siviski said.

• • •

A change of offensive style mid-game was a key to Maine Central Institutes’s 35-20 win over Bucksport on Friday.

With the score tied 14-14 at the half, the Huskies elected to play power football in the second half. It worked, with MCI mounting three long scoring drives. Of the 122 yards the Huskies gained in the second half, 120 came on the ground.

It was a game plan change for MCI, which threw 12 times in the first half, including a 35-yard completion from Greg Vigue to Austin Tolman on MCI’s first play from scrimmage. With the team moving the ball on the ground, MCI’s receivers were happy to take a back seat for the sake of the team.

“I’ve got Austin Tolman on the sideline saying ‘Stay in the tight formation, Coach. Stay in the tight formation and run the ball.'” MCI coach Tom Bertrand said. “It’s that kind of unselfishness that I think is characteristic of our team and how we’re developing. It’s not all about the glory. It’s about getting it done as a team.”

• • •

Around the state: A big game in Class A this week is undefeated Windham (3-0) at undefeated Cheverus (3-0). Cheverus hasn’t been scored on since surrendering a first quarter field goal to Portland in week one. Windham averages 53 points per game… Thornton Academy is 3-0 and hasn’t allowed a point in nine quarters. The Trojans have outscored their opponents 174-6… There were eight shutouts around the state in week three, the high for the season so far.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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