THORNDIKE — On Thursday night, Orono and Mount View will play the only high school football game in the state. When other teams around the state are finishing up their walk-through practices in anticipation of Friday night games, the Red Riots and Mustangs will be kicking off their Little Ten Conference game at Larrabee Field in Knox at 6 p.m.

“We’re going to be ready for the challenge,” Mount View coach Rick Leary said.

Thursday night games are rare in Maine, but not unheard of, or even unusual.

Mount View football coach Rick Leary works with Sam Valleau during practice Wednesday in Thorndike. Staff photo by David Leaming

The Maine Principals’ Association has no rules governing football game days, assistant executive director Mike Burnham said. Burnham noted in the past, some Portland-area schools have scheduled football games on Thursdays so as not to interfere with Jewish holy day Yom Kippur. In the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons, Orono and John Bapst played their regular season finale against each other on a Thursday night at the University of Maine.

“I was happy, excited for it. I’m ready to play under the lights. It will be a good game, a good change. We’ll have a good time with it,” said James Thompson, a Mount View senior captain.

The reason for this scheduling anomaly is the annual Common Ground Fair this weekend in Unity, less than three miles from the Mount View High School campus in Thorndike.

“Our school is used for overflow parking,” Mount View athletic director Chris Moreau said. “That means we can’t host anything Friday through Sunday.”

When the LTC schedule was finalized, it had the Mustangs hosting Orono on Saturday, Sept. 22. With the Common Ground Fair, that was impossible. Rather than ask the league to redo the entire schedule to accomodate one game, Moreau asked Orono if it would be willing to play Thursday. Orono athletic director Mike Archer agreed, and the game was moved to Larrabee Field in Knox, just a few miles from the school.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s the best for this situation,” Moreau said.

Larrabee Field has been a home away from home for the Mount View football team for years. Before the field at the school was complete, the Mustangs used Larrabee Field as their home. In recent years, Mount View has played one home game a year under the Larrabee Field lights. Many of Mount View’s players learned football on Larrabee Field, which is home to the area’s youth football program.

“The kids, that’s their home field when they grew up. They get a little excitement about that,” Leary said.

While fans may get excited over the newness and novelty of a Thursday game, for the teams involved, it requires top notch time management.

“From our perspective, it speeds things up a little more,” Orono coach Bob Sinclair said.

Sinclair coached Orono in its three Thursday games against John Bapst, going 1-2. While none of the current players were on the team for those games, the Red Riots aren’t getting overly excited for Thursday’s game, either.

“Our kids are pretty business-like when it comes to the game,” Sinclair said.

Sinclair’s Red Riots played last Friday night, giving them an extra day of rest and recovery than Mount View, which played Saturday afternoon at home against Houlton. For both teams, though, the Thursday game means a deviation from the normal practice week. Typically, Monday is a day for film review.

“Monday now becomes a work day for you,” Sinclair said.

Added Leary: “I feel a little rushed. Getting the team to where we need to be has been a challenge. We have a lot of new players. We’re young. But the kids are getting better every practice… The kids are playing hard. They’re playing with heart. They’re playing excited. I’ve seen that all three games. I really saw it against Mattanawcook and I really saw it against Houlton. They’re coming to play ball.”

Mount View quarterback Brady Moulton, left, throws during practice Wednesday in Thorndike. Staff photo by David Leaming

With Wednesday the walk-through day leading up to the game, both teams have just two full practices to prepare.

“We’re just practicing. Getting everything down to a good rhythm, a good technique. Making sure we’re doing everything the right way,” Thompson said. “It’s been a busy but it’s not too bad. We’re handling it. We’ll get it.”

When it’s over, Orono and Mount View will have a few extra days to prepare for their next opponent. For Mount View, it’s at Stearns in Millinocket a week from Friday. For Orono, it’s a home game against Washington Academy next Friday.

“We’ll have a good long week next week to get ready for Stearns,” Leary said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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