Both the Maine Central Institute football and field hockey teams won championships last year, and had the opportunity to bring more Gold Balls and trophies back to the shelves in Pittsfield.

And make no mistake — that hardware was earned.

Husky football and field hockey had a terrific 2016, winning the Class D championship and reaching the Class C final, respectively, but realignment threatened to slow both teams in 2017, moving MCI up and into Class C for football and Class B for field hockey.

What was an obstacle on paper didn’t play out that way in the cold of late autumn. The MCI field hockey team avoided a B North semifinal exit with an overtime win against Belfast, but the close call was the last for the Huskies. MCI overwhelmed Gardiner 3-0 in the regional final, then shocked powerful South champion York 5-0 in the state championship.

The Wildcats had won three straight state titles. No one in Class B had an answer for them. It took MCI one season to find one.

Meanwhile, the football team had some drama of its own in store. After a lukewarm regular season that made it the sixth seed in the Class C North playoffs, MCI pulled off a storybook postseason run, upsetting No. 3 Nokomis, No. 2 Winslow and then No. 1 Mount Desert Island before blowing out heavily favored Cape Elizabeth 30-13 for a second straight state title.

In completing that playoff march, MCI toppled three teams — Winslow, MDI and Cape Elizabeth — to which it had lost during the regular season. No wonder there was a little more sound to the celebration on the University of Maine field.

Now, after winning via the path of most resistance, the Huskies will try to defend those crowns. It won’t be easy. The field hockey team lost an all-state player in Addi Williams, and the football team lost its best all-around player in Adam Bertrand.

So, once again, things are tougher for the Huskies. Once again, there will be adversity.

This time, anyone following along would be wise not to count them out.

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