The Maine Central Institute and Hermon football teams have a brief shared history. They’ve met twice, in 2011 and 2012, splitting a pair of games when both played in the Little Ten Conference.

Now, both teams play in the Big 11, and are contenders for the conference crown. The defending Class C state champion, MCI was expected to be a contender. Hermon, a relatively new varsity program in its eighth season, is building off its playoff season last year. Undefeated at 3-0, the Hawks are in a small group of teams that could unseat the Huskies.

“We know that each week, teams are going to circle that one on their calendar,” said MCI coach Tom Bertrand, whose team is coming off back-to-back shutout wins after a shutout non-conference loss at Leavitt to open the season.

After three games, MCI is in first place in the Class C North Heal Point standings. Hermon is in second. Here is a closer look at the Hermon-MCI matchup:

When: 7 tonight

Where: Alumni Field, Pittsfield.

Hermon coach Kyle Gallant on MCI: “They’re well-coached. They’re tough kids. All those boys grew up introduced to MCI’s tradition. They run the ball well. They throw the ball well. Anytime you play MCI, it’s a battle.”

MCI coach Tom Bertrand on Hermon: “They’re high-powered, and they’re playing with some confidence. There’s a lot to be said for playing with that kind of confidence. They’re hungry.”

Three keys for Hermon:

• Continue to spread the wealth.

Five players have scored at least one touchdown for Hermon, which averages 33 points per game. If the Hawks continue getting a number of players involved in the offense, MCI can’t focus on one or two players.

“We’re able to spread out the ball to a lot of guys. We’re using five, six, seven guys. We’re not one dimensional,” Gallant said.

No need to change that now.

• A Friend in need.

Defensively, Hermon needs to keep an eye on a number of MCI players, and it starts with quarterback Ryan Friend, who has 369 yards passing and three touchdown throws. Nine players have at least one catch for the Huskies. Gallant noted Friend’s poise, a trait he honed as a freshman starting quarterback on a state championship team last season.

“Friend is a sophomore but he plays like a senior,” Gallant said.

• Think small.

What makes MCI good is its attention to detail, Gallant said. Few teams do the little things as well as the Huskies, and that’s something Gallant wants the Hawks to emulate. He noted that when watching MCI film, what stands out is the subtle things, like textbook blocking on a simple fullback trap.

“They do the little thing well. They know technique wins football games,” Gallant said.

Three keys for MCI:

• Contain Trask.

Hermon quarterback Garrett Trask is a threat to pass and run. Trask has 341 passing yards with five touchdown throws, and also leads the Hawks in rushing in 276 yards and three running touchdowns. A senior, Trask is the heartbeat of Hermon’s offense.

“They start with the great quarterback. (Trask’s) a great passer and he’ll run the ball. They run the option well. He’s got some weapons around him,” Bertrand said.

• Continue to fine tune.

Bertrand and his coaching staff aren’t afraid to make changes. Last season, they moved Seth Bussell from guard to fullback when the running game needed a spark. After the season-opening loss to Leavitt, they moved Bussell back to the line to shore up the Huskies blocking scheme. Bertrand and his staff know playing your best in October and November is what’s important. With Tucker Sharples, Andrew Whitaker, and Kempton Roy playing well in the backfield, MCI is sharpening the lineup with late season games in mind.

“We’ve got a lot of guys and we’re trying to figure out who is going to handle the load,” Bertrand said.

• Control the line.

With Bussell back on the offensive line, the Huskies have some more experience up front. Hermon’s lines are the team’s least experienced unit. If MCI can control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, generating long offensive drives and giving Trask and talented skill players like receiver Keith Pomeroy and backs River Mullen and Zach Tubbs less time to develop plays, the Huskies can take control of the game early.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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