Maine Central Institute hosted a four-team, round-robin scrimmage Monday afternoon, with Hermon, Medomak Valley and Maranacook. It gave the Huskies an opportunity to let some position battles play out against different opponents.

The biggest position up for grabs at MCI is quarterback. Last season’s starter Josh Buker, who was a key member of the undefeated Class D state championship squad, graduated, leaving the quarterback competition wide open. In scrimmages against Hermon and Medomak Valley, freshman Ryan Friend saw most of the first team snaps.

“He did some good things,” MCI head coach Tom Bertrand said of Friend’s performance. “He’s still young and made some freshman mistakes, if you will, but overall I’m pleased with how he played.”

Junior Andrew Whitaker saw a few snaps at quarterback, but after an arm injury, Friend went back under center. Bertrand said he’d hoped to see two more players, sophomores Dominic Wilson and Tyler Staples, against varsity competition, but with low numbers, Maranacook left the scrimmage early.

“We were going to try out our other two candidates in our third game, but Maranacook wasn’t able to stick around, so we’ll see them in a JV scrimmage,” Bertrand said.

No matter which of the four ends up at quarterback for the Huskies, Bertrand pointed out he will not be expected to do the same things Buker did.

“We’re going to be just trying to get the ball to all the different athletes we’ve got on the field. We were trying them all out today. We know some of the key guys, and we want to see who else is going to be able to contribute,” Bertrand said.

Another position Bertrand is studying this preseason is linebacker.

“Linebacker play is something we have to take a look at,” Bertrand said. “Losing Eli Bussell and a couple of the other seniors, we knew there was going to be auditions for us. We had some guys who did pretty well. Pedro Matos will be competing for (playing time) and Adam (Bertrand) played pretty well in there.”

• • •

Coming off a winless 2016 season, Waterville head coach Matt Gilley was looking to see improvement when his team scrimmaged Belfast on Monday morning. After two and a half hours running plays against the Lions, Gilley was happy with what he saw.

“Being assignment sharp is the first thing,” Gilley said. “The guys have taken it upon themselves to know their roles in the whole offensive scheme. The speed at which we were playing, I felt we were a couple steps faster than last year.”

Waterville and Belfast each play in the Class C North Big Ten Conference. Belfast is expected to be among the league’s playoff contenders, Gilley said. Players who saw a lot of varsity time as freshmen and sophomores are now upperclassmen and accustomed to the rigors of the varsity game, he said. Among the players Gilley cited for their maturity are offensive/defensive lineman John Evans and quarterback Jack Thompson, both juniors.

Friday, Waterville makes the long drive north to Houlton for an exhibition game. Gilley said he expects to see more improvement.

“(Houlton) is a little bit of an unknown, because we don’t see them often. We want to continue to make steps forward,” Gilley said.

• • •

When former Skowhegan head coach Matt Friedman stepped down this summer to accept a position on the Husson University coaching staff, school officials elected to name defensive coordinator Ryan Libby as interim head coach for the upcoming season. At Monday’s practice, Libby said he’s fine wearing the interim tag for the season.

“I look at it as a season-long job interview,” Libby, a 2001 Skowhegan graduate, said. “This is what’s best for the kids. The system hasn’t changed. The coaching staff, for the most part, hasn’t changed. We were able to start pretty seamless.”

If there’s any changes, Libby said, it could come with in-game decisions, simply because he and Friedman are different people.

“Offensively, we’ll run the same stuff, but I’m not Matt. When I see things Friday night, it might be different.”

• • •

Here are a few of the interesting exhibition game matchups set for central Maine teams this weekend:

• Lawrence at Cony will be a rematch of one of the best playoff games of last season. In the Pine Tree Conference Class B quarterfinals, Cony trimmed the lead to 27-26, when Jordan Roddy caught a Taylor Heath touchdown pass on the final play of the fourth quarter, then converted the 2-point conversion for the win.

• Messalonskee at Winslow is a matchup of former Class B rivals. They will play at Winslow’s Poulin Field Saturday afternoon.

• Nokomis plays at Mt. Blue. Each team has a new head coach, Jake Rogers at Nokomis and Nate Quirion at Mt. Blue. Rogers and Quirion previously coached together on the staff at Lawrence.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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