ORONO — Nearly one year to the day later, the Maine Central Institute football team is going to get another crack at two-time defending Class D champ Oak Hill High School.

The Raiders — who have won 20 straight games — intend to be ready.

“Everybody wants a little bit of revenge in games. I would too if I were them,” Oak Hill senior quarterback Dalton Therrien said. “That could be an advantage or disadvantage for them. We’ll just have to see Friday night.

“They’re a good team. They’ve got a lot of talent in some places, but so do we.”

On Saturday, Nov. 20 of last year, the Raiders used a big second half from Alex Mace to race past the injury-plagued Huskies 41-21 at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Oak Hill (10-0 Class D South) and MCI (10-0 Class D North) will have their rematch for the Gold Ball at 7 p.m. Friday at the University of Maine’s Harold Alfond Sports Stadium.

“Having the right mentality, knowing what we’re capable of and just selling out — that’s what it comes down to,” Oak Hill wide receiver Connor Nilsson said. “For us seniors, it’s our last game, you know, we want to enjoy it but we also want to get the win.”

The Huskies are well aware much of their success Friday night will hinge on their ability to stop Therrien. The senior has completed 68 of 120 passes for 1,297 yards, 17 touchdowns and one interception, while on the ground he has rushed 100 times for 870 yards, 14 touchdowns and one fumble.

“They have a really good quarterback who likes to run, so we’ll have to contain him,” MCI senior tackle/safety Alex Jones said. “They have really good wide receivers that can go out, run routes and catch the ball. They have a lot of playmakers. We’ll have to take care of all of them.”

A sound defensive gameplan and the ability to adjust on the fly will be critical for the Huskies. In its 21-20 win over Lisbon in the Class D South title game, Oak Hill ran two base offensive formations out of the shotgun: A run-heavy variation of the run and shoot with two wide receivers close to the tackles, a pair of split backs behind the guards and a running back a yard behind Therrien, as well as a four wide receiver, single back set.

The Raiders showed a willingness to either run or pass out of each formation, and have also at times gone to the double wing — like they did in last season’s state title game. Each formation allows for plenty of variance and forces opposing defenses to respect the run from Therrien or Levi Buteau, as well as the pass.

Jonah Martin and Nilsson have been Therrien’s top receiving threats this season, while Buteau has been the Raiders’ primary ball carrier after Therrien.

“They’re like us in that we make you prepare for a lot of different stuff and you don’t know what we’re going to throw at you,” MCI head coach Tom Bertrand said. “They can do a lot of different things and we’re not sure what they’re going to show up and do.”

Oak Hill faced plenty of talented offenses in the Campbell Conference this season but the Huskies will provide a different type of challenge. The Raiders have faced tough-running fullbacks similar to Alex Bertrand and quick, shifty running backs the likes of Willie Moss, yet most of their opponents did not also have as capable of a passing quarterback as Greg Vigue under center.

“They’re balanced. They can go inside, they can go outside and they can throw the ball,” Oak Hill head coach Stacen Doucette said. “We just have to play assignment football.”

Winning the line of scrimmage will also be key for the Raiders and much of that will fall on how well Oak Hill handles Curtis McLeod. At 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds, the senior guard possesses the kind of speed and power to be disruptive on both sides of the ball.

A key question for MCI will be whether or not it is as good as its scores have indicated throughout the season. The Huskies have not played a close game all year, winning each of their games by 21 points or more — and often the latter.

Oak Hill, meanwhile, has shown it can close out close games if it needs to and won its previous two contests by a combined four points.

Has MCI’s run been more a function of overwhelming talent or a weak schedule?

One way or another that question will be answered Friday night.

Staff Writer Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this report.


Evan Crawley — 621-5604

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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