PITTSFIELD — When a football team scores 484 points, it’s normal that a bulk of the attention it receives goes to the offense. Anybody who marvels at Maine Central Institute’s offense at the expense of the Huskies’ defense, however, does so at his or her own peril.

The MCI defense has become a scoring dynamo, too.

Not including a midseason exhibition game against Hyde, MCI’s defense has scored seven touchdowns. Before adding the subsequent extra points or 2-point conversions, that’s 42 points accounted for by the Huskies’ defense. To put it this way, that’s 20 more points than Telstar scored all season, and almost as many points as scored by Freeport (51) and Stearns (61).

“It’s just something we do. We all want to be the guy who has the ball in their hands. A lot of us who play defense don’t get to touch the ball on offense,” safety Alex Jones said.

Jones has two of MCI’s defensive scores, a fumble recovery and an interception return. Jones and the Huskies (10-0) will face Oak Hill (10-0) in the Class D state championship game Friday night at the University of Maine in Orono, in a rematch of last year’s state title game.

The Huskies also have a pair of touchdowns on special teams, a kick return and a punt return. The Huskies had six defensive scores and a kick return for a touchdown in the regular season. In the Little Ten Conference semifinal win over Orono, MCI added an interception return for a touchown by Dillon Fitts, and a Josh Buker punt return for a touchdown.

In the regular season, MCI forced 25 turnovers, just over three per game.

“We pride ourselves on not just being a tempo offense, but being able to create opportunities on defense and special teams,” MCI head coach Tom Bertrand said. “We’ve had some kids make some big plays for us. We’ve been pretty fortunate to be able to do that… We create our own opportunities. We’re a pretty aggressive defense. We were forcing a lot of fumbles early, then we started forcing a lot of interceptions and capitalizing on them.”

Nowhere was this more evident than in the third quarter of the Huskies’ 54-18 win at Mount View in Week 3. Ahead by a point, 13-12, at halftime, MCI forced four turnovers in the third quarter. All four led to MCI touchdowns, one directly, Braden Monteryo’s 29-yard interception return for a touchdown. Just like that, a one point lead became a 36-point lead.

“It’s a really good feeling to have in the middle of a game,” cornerback Eli Bussell said. Bussell has four interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and a team-high three defensive touchdowns.

“Eli, he was getting hot there at the beginning of the season,” Bertrand said.

Bussell attributed the Huskies’ defensive success to being well-coached. Bussell returned an interception for a score in the season-opening win over Washington Academy, he said, because he did exactly as he’d been instructed.

“I was just playing my assignment, like Coach (Bertrand) tells us to. They threw it my way, I caught it, and took off,” Bussell said. “I saw it on film that they’d run a slant. I saw (the receiver) coming. I just jumped in front of him.”

When Jones returned an interception for a touchdown against Dexter on Oct. 16, it was another case of recognizing what the opponent was trying to do.

“They did a little screen to the left. They flared the guy out to the flat, and I just read the quarterback. I went over and just picked it off,” Jones said.

Added Bertrand: “We have smart football players. They prepare and they know where to be at the right time. It’s not just oportunistic things. We feel like we really create our opportunities on the defensive side of the ball.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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