Seth Bussell of Maine Central Institue is the Morning Sentinel Football Player of the Year. Staff photo by David Leaming

Is Seth Bussell better at opening holes, closing them, or running through them? Is the Maine Central Institute senior best used as an offensive lineman, defensive lineman, or running back? It’s a question MCI football coach Tom Bertrand doesn’t think needs an answer. When describing Bussell, it’s best to just use the all-inclusive “football player.”

“He’s tough as nails,” Bertrand said. “He’s a quiet leader. The kids respect him. They know how hard he works. He’s the last one in the locker room every night, sweeping it up, putting things away.”

This season, Bussell was the Huskies’ go-to guy on both sides of the ball, helping MCI to a 9-2 season. For his talent and versatility, Bussell is the Morning Sentinel Football Player of the Year. Skowhegan quarterback Marcus Christopher and Nokomis wide receiver/cornerback Chance Graves also were considered.

“I just have it in my mind to not give up and to not let my team down,” Bussell said.

Bussell was all-Big 11 Conference on both sides of the ball, at fullback and defensive tackle. Primarily a nose guard, Bussell moved around the defensive line, finishing the regular season with 64 tackles (19 solo) and five sacks. With Bussell in the middle of the defensive line, the Huskies allowed an average of 10 points per game. The 5-foot-7, 225-pound Bussell doesn’t overpower opponents with size. His signature asset is a fast first step. Often, Bussell is by an opponent before he’s out of his stance. Being quick off the ball was a lesson Bussell learned as a fourth grader playing on a team of fifth and sixth graders. When the older and bigger kids overpowered Bussell, his coach and uncle Bob Bussell told Seth he’d have to be faster.

“He told me, ‘That’s how it goes,'” Bussell said. “I try to be quick off the ball.”

Bertrand described Bussell as a technically sound defender with great instincts. While Bertrand and the coaching staff moved Bussell around the defensive line, his natural position is at nose guard, in the middle of things.

“He really is unstoppable without a double or triple team,” Bertrand said. “He’s fast off the ball, he has strong technique, and he’s disruptive. We always tried to get him to the point of attack.”

Bertrand remembered a play Bussell made this season, but was unsure about the game. When told the details, Bussell guessed it was against Hermon. No matter the opponent, it was special. First, Bussell shed a block from the center, then he beat the guard. In the backfield, Bussell pushed the fullback into the tailback to made the stop.

“Yeah, must’ve been Hermon,” Bussell said.

Bussell started at guard for the Huskies as a sophomore in 2016, helping MCI win the Class D state championship. Last season, when MCI needed some depth in the offensive backfield, Bussell moved to fullback, helping the Huskies win the Class C gold ball.

“He became a pretty good part of that combination with Adam (Bertrand) and Pedro (Matos),” Bertrand said.

This season, Bussell alternated between the backfield and the offensive line, playing wherever the Huskies’ game plan needed him. In the regular season, Bussell gained 468 yards on 88 carries, a 5.3 yards per carry average, and scored a team-high eight touchdowns. In a 28-7 win at Winslow on Oct. 6, Bussell had 37 carries for 171 yards and two touchdowns. In a 29-25 win over Hermon on Sept. 21, Bussell ran for 112 yards on 21 carries. His 2-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter staked the Huskies to a 22-12 lead.

“I used to play fullback when I was younger, and I love running the ball,” Bussell said. “I liked the idea (of moving to fullback). I love running over people. I like to lower my shoulder.”

Bussell’s leadership goes beyond the football team. He helped start a Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter at MCI, and is President of the senior class, Bertrand said.

“I’m not really a vocal leader, but I try to lead. I don’t care for guys who talk trash that much,” Bussell said. “I’ll talk with my pads.”

Bussell is considering playing football at the next level at Maine Maritime Academy. His older brother, Eli, recently completed his sophomore season as a linebacker at Plymouth State University.

“He says college (football) is a lot different,” Bussell said.

Bussell will find, no matter the level, there’s always room for a kid eager to lower his pads. There’s always room for a football player.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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