PORTLAND — Two football teams with not a lot of history between each other will look to add to their own lore Saturday afternoon at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Oak Hill has not played Maine Central Institute since 1990 per Oak Hill athletic director Jim Palmer, but do not expect either team to be unprepared for Saturday’s Class D championship.

“We went down a couple times during the season and watched them, and we’ve watched them on game film,” MCI coach Tom Bertrand said. “We got a chance to see them.”

Members of the MCI coaching staff were on hand to scout the Raiders in their opening round playoff game against Maranacook on Nov. 1, while Oak Hill got a chance to see the Huskies in action this past Saturday for their Little Ten Conference championship game against Bucksport.

“They’re a very physical team, they play at a fast pace and they spread the ball around,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said. “They’re very multidimensional.”

Both teams bring their own strengths and weaknesses to the contest, yet when it comes to experience the Raiders will definitely have an advantage as the defending Class D champs.

“We’ve been there before,” Doucette said. “We know what to expect from the minute we get on the bus. Nothing is new.”

MCI has not played in a state title game since losing to Winthrop 22-0 in 2000 but Bertrand said he still believes his team will be ready for Saturday.

“Our last couple of games have been a pretty heightened atmosphere,” Bertrand said. “Our kids have responded well. They’re excited about going down and playing. They’re focusing on the game and not the hype that surrounds it.”

As far as the match up itself goes both teams are fairly similar in nature. The Raiders want to pound the ball with Kyle Flaherty and Alex Mace as much the Huskies want to give it to Eric Hathaway and Jonathan Santiago, yet both teams are not afraid to throw in certain situations.

Both Doucette and Bertrand said they are going to adapt to what the other team does, and they simply hope to put their players in the best positions to succeed.

“We try to be pretty balanced,” Bertrand said. “We’ve run the ball quite a bit here but certainly we can throw the football.

“One of the things that we do is see what the defense is giving us. We don’t have to try to force the issue.”

While the Huskies want to stay balanced, the passing game could prove to be an edge for MCI. Greg Vigue has proven himself to be a very capable quarterback, and this season Oak Hill has not faced too many teams that throw the ball with any regularity.

In their first meeting with Lisbon — a 28-14 Oak Hill win on Oct. 25 — quarterback Kyle Bourget had some success throwing the ball to Tyler Halls and Henry Adams against the Raiders in a game that turnovers proved too costly for the Greyhounds to overcome.

Bourget was out for last Saturday’s game with a torn ACL and Halls slid under center for Lisbon. He played well but his presence as an outside threat was certainly missed, and ultimately the Greyhounds struggled to finish off drives.

“Playing a physical team we bend but we don’t break,” Doucette said. “We’re hoping we make less mistakes than the opposing team.”

In terms of size MCI will definitely have an advantage up front, but so does just about every team that faces Oak Hill. The Raiders have made up for the lack of size with creative blocking schemes, and like to pull their guards or tackles across the formation to create an overload on one side or the other.

“You just try to play sound defense and do what you can neutralize that,” Bertrand said. “The scheme is a good one and they execute it really well.”

Oak Hill has lost once in its last 18 games, while MCI has won 18 of its previous 20 contests.

One way or another, one team that has grown very accustomed to winning will leave Portland Saturday one victory short of a championship.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley


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