PITTSFIELD — When they were little boys, Alex and Adam Bertrand would play one-on-one football games on the lawn at Maine Central Institutes’s front campus.

“He’d snap the ball to me in a shotgun set, then he’d turn around and we’d run at each other and try to hit each other as hard as we could,” Alex, the older Bertrand brother by two years, said. “Those things right there, I’m thinking, those times are contributing to what’s happening down on the field.”

Alex Bertrand was a standout fullback/linebacker for MCI before graduating in 2016. Knee injuries ended his playing days, and now Alex is an assistant coach at MCI. A senior, Adam Bertrand is a co-captain, a running back and safety for the Huskies. Their father, Tom Bertrand, is in his 16th season as MCI’s head football coach. Each has been an important piece in MCI’s football success in recent years. When the Huskies play Cape Elizabeth in the Class C state championship game Friday night at the University of Maine, it will be MCI’s fourth straight appearance in a state final. The previous three were in Class D, where the Huskies won the gold ball last season.

“We talk football a lot. We try not to do a lot of it at home, but even last night, my wife and their stepmom were saying ‘I love sitting around listening to you guys talk about football. I don’t know what your talking about, but you guys sure are passionate about it.’ It’s a love. It’s been that way for a long time,” Tom said.

The boys grew up around football. Tom remembers 1-year old Alex in the gym at Stearns High School, where Tom had his first head coaching job, getting into a three-point stance to do linemen drills into the pads at the end of the basketball court. From Stearns, Tom Bertrand served as an assistant coach in 2001 at Winslow High School, before taking the job at MCI, where he’s also Dean of Student Life.

“Both of them have been along for the ride the whole way, and it’s been nothing but a pleasure,” Tom, who graduated from MCI in 1990 and played offensive line and linebacker for the Huskies, said.

This season, Adam has been one of the top players for the 7-4 Huskies. As a running back, Bertrand ran for a team-high 785 yards and scored 12 touchdowns in the regular season. In three Class C North playoff wins, Bertrand added 252 more yards rushing, 65 yards receiving, and even 15 yards passing as a quarterback in MCI’s wildcat formation, to go with six postseason touchdowns. As a linebacker and a safety for the Huskies defense, Bertrand had 60 tackles in the regular season with two interceptions. In the playoffs, Bertrand has three more interceptions, and his pick in the fourth quarter of the regional final at Mt. Desert Island ended the Trojans final scoring chance. In a quarterfinal win at Nokomis, Bertrand also had a fumble recovery.

“To me, (Adam) became a senior last year in the state game (last season). He was big in that game, and he hasn’t looked back since. We have some leaders on this team, but Adam is the leader of the leaders,” Tom Bertrand said.

Adam’s earliest memories of MCI football involve him being a water boy for the team. He enjoys playing for his father, and after playing alongside his brother for two seasons, getting coached by Alex as well.

“You have to find that balance of Dad and Coach, and a lot of times you’ll find us at home talking football. You find that balance at practice,” Adam said. “I think that’s awesome that (Alex) came back and wants to continue to be a part of this and help us get better and grow. He pushes us in practice.”

A bruised heel suffered when MCI played at Cape Elizabeth on Sept. 22 hobbled Bertrand for a few weeks.

“It bothered me for a while. It gave me a little limp, but I’ve recovered pretty well,” Adam, who also has played through a broken bone in his hand, said.

Tom Bertrand acknowledged the line between father and coach sometimes gets blurred.

“Being coach to the players and Dad to the sons has been a challenge. Now, Al and I, we share a passion for football that’s pretty deep. It evens results in some disagreements and some sore emotions, but I think it’s good for both of us. It helps us build the relationship even stronger. We share a passion for MCI football, that’s for sure,” Tom said.

For the Bertrands, MCI football has become a way of life. Tom and Alex are eager to coach Adam on Friday, when he suits up for the Huskies for the final time.

“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Alex said of his brother. “I love him, and I can’t wait for Friday night.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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