The Maine Central Institute football team spent the Class C North playoffs proving to its new league it belonged after three straight dominant seasons in Class D. First, the Huskies had to prove it to themselves.

After back-to-back midseason losses to Cape Elizabeth and Mt. Desert Island, the Huskies were 2-3, and knew changes had to be made.

“We had to decide if we were going to be content with continuing on a 2-3 team path, or if we were going to buckle down and turn things around,” senior co-captain Adam Bertrand said. “We’d goof off at times. We wouldn’t be thinking football all the time. We really committed to watching film, listening to what our coaches are telling us to do, staying in the weight room.”

Since that mid-season soul searching, MCI is 5-1. The Huskies (7-4) will face Cape Elizabeth (9-2) in the Class C state championship game Friday night at the University of Maine’s Alfond Stadium.

“I’m pretty proud of the way these guys have battled here in the postseason, especially on the road,” MCI coach Tom Bertrand said.

On Sept. 22, Cape Elizabeth defeated MCI, 35-15. The Huskies led 7-6 at the half before the Capers pulled away over the final two quarters.

“We were kind of experimenting with stuff in the first half,” Cape Elizabeth coach Aaron Filieo said of the regular season game against MCI. “In the second half, we were able to hit on a few things.”

In running back/linebacker Ryan Weare, the Capers have an athlete coach Bertrand called “one of the best players we’ve faced.”

“They’re fast, and they fly around the field,” Bertrand said. “They present some problems.”

Even with back Jack Glanville sidelined with a broken collarbone, the Capers have a number of offensive weapons. Quarterback Andrew Hartel threw a pair of touchdown passes in the regional championship win over Gardiner. Filieo called his team’s offensive versatility its strength, and noted that will be key against the Huskies. In watching MCI’s win over Mt. Desert Island in the Class C North final, Filieo saw the Huskies successfully stuff the Trojans running game.

“MDI had a hard time going to the passing game,” Filieo said.

Likewise, MCI has been able to be an offensive chameleon, particulalry in the playoffs. Against Nokomis in regional quarterfinals, the Huskies ran the ball. Against Winslow and Mt. Desert Island, MCI had success through the air.

“They’re obviously well-coached,” Filieo said. “That’s a program that’s estabished itself as one of the best in the state. Winning breeds success.”

Coach Bertrand said this si the healthiest his team has been all season. With Adam Bertrand, Seth Bussell, and Pedro Matos in the backfield, with David Young and TJ Kuespert leading the receivers, the Huskies are finally able to play at full strength offensively, Bertrand said.

“Being healthy helps. We were injured a lot in the season. We’re more healthy now than we have been all season,” Bertrand said.

Having everybody available will be important for the Huskies against a Cape Elizabeth defense that allows an average of just under nine points per game.

“We have speed and rally to the ball,” Filieo said. “They all like to get in on the tackle.”

Defense has been huge for MCI as well. The Huskies forced six turnovers in the C North playoffs.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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