When Skowhegan lost tailback John Blodgett to a shoulder injury late in the first quarter of Friday’s 33-32 win at Lawrence, it changed the Indians’ offensive game plan the rest of the night.

Blodgett was hurt after making a catch on a screen pass on Skowhegan’s 14th offensive play of the game. Up to that point, Skowhegan’s play calls were split almost 50/50, with eight passes and six runs. For the rest of the game, the Indians ran 49 plays. Just 15 of those were run plays, including quarterback Garrett McSweeney twice taking a knee to run out the clock at the end of the game. With a strong passing game, Skowhegan is going to throw the ball often, but coach Matthew Friedman acknowledged Blodgett’s injury influenced his play calling.

“(Blodgett’s) definitely our No. 1 tailback, and it changed things,” Friedman said.

At the time of the injury, Blodgett had five carries for 40 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown run that gave the Indians a 13-6 lead. The shoulder is something that has bothered Blodgett for a while, Friedman said, and his status for Friday’s game against Gardiner is unclear.

“We’re waiting to see how it feels. It’s something he’s been dealing with,” Friedman said.

Skowhegan’s top rusher on Friday was McSweeney, who gained 44 yards on nine carries, not including the end of game kneeldowns. Whether or not Blodgett is in the lineup, McSweeney will remain a part of Skowhegan’s rushing attack. Last season, McSweeney ran for 171 yards in a win over Messalonskee.

“He’s shown he can get the tough yards up the middle,” Friedman said.

Newcomer Cam Barnes showed he can be a valuable addition to Skowhegan’s offense, with six catches for 85 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown reception for the Indians’ first score. Barnes also returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown.

“He’s just a great natural athlete, and showed he’s picking up things quickly,” Friedman said of Barnes.

• • •

At Maine Central Institute, Josh Buker is taking over at quarterback following the graduation of Greg Vigue, a four-year starter. Buker’s first varsity start couldn’t have gone much better.

Buker threw four touchdown passes, and returned a punt for a touchdown, helping the Huskies to a 42-0 win at Stearns.

MCI coach Tom Bertrand said he and his staff had confidence in Buker coming into the season.

“Buker has played a lot of positions for us,” Bertrand said. “He ran the ball well. He threw the ball well. We had to go to our passing game because Stearns plugged up the middle pretty well.”

With Buker’s past as a running back and receiver for the Huskies, the coaches tweaked the offense a little bit to highlight his skills. More example, Buker ran the ball more than Vigue typically would have.

“Greg would’ve been a great runner if I let him do it,” Bertrand said. “Josh struggled a bit at the beginning (of the game), but he got into a rhythm.”

MCI graduated the entire offensive line from last season’s Little Ten Conference champion team. Bertrand said the newcomers played well at Stearns, but need to improve to face a very good Bucksport team in the Huskies’ home opener on Friday.

“With Bucksport, it’s eight guys coming at you from all directions, and they don’t stop until the game’s over,” Bertrand said.

• • •

Madison got big contributions in Week 1 from quarterback Evan Bess and running back Sean Whalen, who both missed last season with injuries. In helping the Bulldogs earn a 35-0 win at Oceanside, Whalen ran for 117 yards and a touchdown. Bess threw for 85 yards and ran for a pair of touchdowns, and Madison amassed 334 yards of offense.

“They were out injured, but they did a good job sticking with the program and absorbed a lot,” coach Scott Franzose said.

Bess and Whalen, along with returning running back Nick Morales, who ran for more than 1,000 yards last season, make up a talented three-headed backfield, Franzose said.

“We’re very excited about our running game,” Franzose said.

While Franzose was pleased with his team’s offensive effort, he was very excited with the defensive performance.

“We did a good job setting the tone (on defense),” he said.

This week, Madison has a tough test in a rematch of last season’s quarterfinal playoff game against Foxcroft Academy. The Ponies are coming off a close 28-20 loss to Mt. Desert Island.

• • •

Around the state: With Saturday’s 22-8 victory over Poland, Freeport won for the first time since 2014. Freeport’s last win had come over Mountain Valley in Week 7 of the 2014. The Falcons will go for two wins in a row this week, but it will be tough. Freeport plays at Class C South favorite Wells on Friday… Hermon also won its first game since 2014, beating John Bapst 28-20 on Friday night. The Hawks losing streak had been 13 games, with the last win coming against Camden Hills in Week 3 of 2014… With the Campbell Conference Class D’s seven games in eight weeks schedule, Old Orchard Beach and Traip Academy had their bye week in Week 1. Both will open the season Saturday, Old Orchard at three-time defending state champ Oak Hill, and Traip hosting Winthrop/Monmouth… Replacing John Wolfgram won’t be easy, but new Cheverus head coach Mike Vance won his first game, 33-18, at Oxford Hills. Wolfgram, who won 309 games and 10 state titles at Madison, Gardiner, South Portland and Cheverus, retired in April.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.