Waterville girls soccer coach Mark Serdjenian talks to his players Monday morning at Webber Field in Waterville. Monday marked the first day fall sports teams could start practicing. Photo by Jennifer Bechard

PITTSFIELD — Maine Central Institute senior Seth Bussell had been looking forward to Monday morning’s football practice for a long time.

“Since November,” Bussell, who saw time on the offensive line, at running back, and on the defensive line for the Huskies last season, said. “We’ve got to keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t slow down for anybody.”

Monday was the first day fall high school sports teams participating in Maine Principals’ Association play could practice for the upcoming season. Football, field hockey, soccer, cross country, and golf teams began workouts. At MCI, Bussell and his teammates began defense of their Class C state championship, won last November with a 30-13 victory over Cape Elizabeth. MCI head coach Tom Bertrand said he too has looked forward to the new season since the celebration of that gold ball win ended.

The Nokomis football team runs through practice Monday in Newport. Staff photo by Travis Lazarczyk

“You reflect on those things, and you start getting ready. We’ve had a group of guys that have really worked hard in the offseason to get ready. I’ve been looking forward to this like I do every season,” Bertrand said.

The Huskies are coming off back-to-back state championships. MCI won the Class D state title in 2016 before higher enrollment bumped the Huskies up to Class C last season. MCI also played in the Class D state championship game in 2014 and 2015. Now, there are no players in the program who have been part of a season that ended without a regional title. T-shirts worn by the Huskies during Monday morning’s practice reflected the recent success, and the work ethic that helped create it.

“Back to back to back to work,” read the back of the shirts. With the success the Huskies have enjoyed, it’s important to fight complacency, Bertrand said. The slogan came from sophomore quarterback Ryan Friend, Bertand said.

“We talk a lot about that. We’re fortunate to have had the success we’ve had the past few years, but it didn’t come by accident. We just want these guys to remember what got us there,” Bertrand said.

Added Bussell: “The people before us have definitely upped the bar and we’ve got to follow in their footsteps and keep it going.”

At nearby Nokomis Regional High School, the football team was coming off an historic season of its own that it hopes is just the beginning. Last season, the Warriors won six game for the first winning record in program history, and made the playoffs for the first time, falling to MCI in the Class C North quarterfinals.

“It’s a great environment now. We’ve got some forward momentum from last season. We’re always looking to improve our record,” senior James Boyd, a two-way lineman for the Warriors, said.

The Nokomis football team huddles up during practice Monday in Newport. Staff photo by Travis Lazarczyk

Skowhegan and MCI field hockey teams also look to defend state titles this season. MCI won the Class B state championship after winning Class C in 2015. Skowhegan has been the state’s field hockey gold standard for almost two decades. The Indians have won 17 consecutive regional titles, and 15 state championships in that dominant run.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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