Maine Central Institute passed its first test against a fellow unbeaten team with last week’s 36-2 win at Dexter. This week, the Huskies play Round 2 of their stretch against undefeated opponents, hosting Orono.

This is the third Orono-MCI matchup since the start of the 2015 season. Last season, the Huskies beat Orono twice in a pair of lopsided games, including a win in the regional semifinals. This season, however, Orono is a much-improved, veteran team. The Red Riots have won each game by at least 13 points.

“They’ve been through the wars,” Orono coach Bob Sinclair said of his team. “This is a pretty senior dominated group.”

MCI hasn’t lost a Little Ten Conference game since the 2013 playoffs, a span of 26 games. To extend that streak, the Huskies will have to win their toughest game of the regular season.

Here’s a look at the Orono-MCI matchup:

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Alumni Field, Pittsfield

Orono coach Bob Sinclair on MCI: “They’re a good football team. They’ve turned that program around over the last three years. They do a lot of things right.”

MCI coach Tom Bertrand on Orono: “They have several excellent athletes and (covering) them all is a challenge for us. Defensively, they are very active and show a few different looks and coverages, so we need to recognize and adjust… All around a very good team.”

Three keys for Orono:

• Contain Buker.

MCI quarterback Josh Buker led the Huskies in rushing yards last week at Dexter, and also has 10 touchdown passes this season. Orono needs to keep Buker in the pocket.

• Pay attention to special teams.

The Huskies scored a pair of touchdowns on punt returns last week, and three touchdowns on punt returns two weeks ago against Houlton. Big plays on special teams have been a staple of MCI play all season. It won’t matter if Orono plays good defense if the Huskies find offense through big plays on special teams.

• 48 minutes of focus.

Neither Orono nor MCI has been challenged for a full game yet this season. Sinclair said his team has to be ready to play hard the entire night.

“They’re going to throw a lot of offensive sets at you. You can’t let up,” Sinclair said. “We have to be fundamentally sounds. We have to be in the right place and tackle.”

Three keys for MCI:

• Recognize and adjust.

Bertrand said Orono will use a few different formations and looks defensively. The Huskies need to quickly recognize holes in Orono’s defensive alignment and exploit them. Last week, it took MCI a half before finally taking what the Dexter defense gave it. If the Huskies don’t adjust sooner this week, it may be too late.

• Be ready for everything.

Running back Keenan Collett has 985 yards from scrimmage (663 rushing, 322 receiving). Matt Fowler has gained 579 yards (401 rushing, 178 receiving) for the Red Riots. Quarterback Jackson Coutts has 450 yards passing and 200 rushing. That’s a long way of saying the Red Riots do a lot of things well, and do not rely on just one player.

As Bertrand said, Orono has several excellent athletes. MCI needs to be ready to defend them all.

• Stay cool.

Last week’s game at Dexter got a little chippy, especially in the second half. The Huskies were flagged for two personal fouls, while Dexter had four. In a close game, those 15 yards can make the difference. Both teams need to keep their wits about them.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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