Tom Bertrand has watched the final play of the Class D state championship football game around 20 times. It will never get old.

That play, Maine Central Institute’s Eli Bussell dropping the long snap on a field goal try, only to pick the ball up and sprint 27 yards untouched for the game-winning touchdown in the Huskies’ 20-14 win over Lisbon. The play will go down as one of the best in Maine high school sports history. Bertrand, MCI’s head football coach, said it was simply Bussell acting on instinct.

“You can analyze it all you want, it was just Eli making a play,” Bertrand said.

The celebration at MCI hasn’t ended since Bussell’s play clinched the win shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday night at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium. The win was the Pittsfield school’s first football championship since 1974.

With no school at MCI this week, the Gold Ball spent the weekend at Bertrand’s home.

“We’ve been taking it around town, so people can see it and take pictures with it,” Bertrand said. “It’s been kind of a whirlwind couple of days.”

Arriving home on Saturday night victorious, the Huskies were met by a police and fire truck escort in Clinton for the final leg of the journey home from Portland. Bertrand said approximately 150 people gathered in Wright Gymnasium for a reception and celebration.

“It’s truly a community trophy,” Bertrand said.

The state championship win erased a few years of frustration for the Huskies, who lost the state title game to Oak Hill High School in 2014 and again in 2015. To win over Lisbon on Saturday, MCI overcame a 14-0 halftime deficit. The Huskies scored a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner, in the final four minutes of the Class D final.

The win also capped an undefeated season for the Huskies, who join Class A champ Bonny Eagle and Class B champ Brunswick as the only undefeated teams in the state this season. In 12 games, MCI outscored opponents, 488-114.

On Monday, Bertrand attended the Little Ten Conference coaches postseason meeting, and was greeted with congratulations. The Huskies are the first conference team to win the state title since Foxcroft Academy in 2012.

“They were excited about us bringing the trophy back to the North,” Bertrand said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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