After starting 0-4, the Waterville Senior High School football team earned a boost to begin the second half of the season with a 15-14 victory over Mt. Desert Island last Friday.

The game was played under portable lights as part of Waterville’s homecoming celebration, and the result was spark the Purple Panthers needed.

“It was paramount we get the W. To the kids credit, we battled back,” coach Matt Gilley said. “We’ve been battling all year, for four quarters, and it finally went in our favor this past week.”

A key to the win over MDI was playing solid defense at all three levels, Gilley said. The loss of senior corner back Anthony Singh to injury a few weeks ago left the secondary inexperienced.

“We knew MDI was going to try to throw the ball. Our first and second level guys had to help our third level coverage guys out. We’ve been preaching that all year,” Gilley said. “We got some pressure and got them to throw the ball when they didn’t want to, and it helped our secondary out. In previous weeks, we were giving up big pass plays. We did not this past weekend, and the win followed.”

Both teams converted a 2-point try with their first touchdown. But the Trojans failed to convert a 2-point attempt when they scored to take a 14-8 lead, which left the door open for the Panthers to take the lead if they scored. Late in the game, Waterville tied the game on a short Trafton Gilbert run, and called on junior lineman Nate Weir to kick the go-ahead point. Weir spent a lot of his own time with assistant coach Kevin Achorn working on extra point kicks, and it paid off Friday night, giving the Panthers the one-point win.

“The outcome of the game depended on kicking a PAT, which is not a given in high school. It’s a testament to Nate and coach Achorn putting in that extra work,” Gilley said.

Waterville has upcoming road games against Madison (0-5) and Nokomis (0-5), before closing the regular season at home against rival Winslow (4-1). Waterville sits in 10th place in the Big 11 Conference, two spots removed from the playoffs, but wins the next two weeks and a strong opponents overall record could help the Panthers earn Crabtree Points (calculated by adding a team’s winning percentage to the winning percentage of opponents) and move into playoff contention.

“It started with this last week, but the next two weeks, if we continue our trajectory and continue to get better like we have every week, we are definitely in those two games and hope we can get a head of steam heading into that Winslow week because they are playing very well right now,” Gilley said. “We preach take it one day at a time, and last week, they proved they are getting the message.”

 

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It hasn’t yet shown up on the scoreboard, but a young Messalonskee team is improving, coach Walter Polky said.

“We’re getting a little better every single week,” said Polky, who is in his first season coaching the Eagles. “We’ll keep coaching. We’ll keep showing them tape of them doing things correctly.”

Last week’s 54-22 loss to Lawrence dropped Messalonskee to 0-5, but coming off a winless season, Polky knew improvement wasn’t going to come overnight, especially as several younger players get varsity experience in the always-tough Pine Tree Conference.

“We play a lot of sophomores,” said Polky, who previously coached at Maranacook and Spruce Mountain. “The league we play in is a big, physical league.”

A factor in Messalonskee’s improvement hasn’t happened yet. Hired last sprng, Polky is looking forward to a full offseason with his team to get in the weight room and work on strength and conditioning.

“One thing we haven’t had, we haven’t had an offseason yet,” Polky said.

The Eagles close the season with games against Skowhegan (1-4), Gardiner (1-4) and Brunswick (5-0). Polky is looking for more improvement as Messalonskee runs that three-game gauntlet of black and orange.

“With little things, we need more consistency. We’re getting to the right spot but not tackling. Finishing plays has been our thing right since day one,” Polky said.

 

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Winslow continued to roll this past weekend. The Black Raiders buried Oceanside 55-0 to win their fourth straight since a season-opening loss at Wells. It was the fourth straight game Winslow scored at least 55 points.

The Black Raiders average a state-best 53.6 points per game, which is even more impressive when one considers their six-point output at Wells. Defensively, Winslow has also been among the state’s most dominant teams, with just 45 points allowed this season. Only Bucksport (13 points allowed), Marshwood (38) and Scarborough (44) have been scored on less than Winslow.

The next two games could be the toughest of the regular season for Winslow, as they face the other two top contenders for the top seed in the upcoming Class C North playoffs. First, Winslow is at Maine Central Institute (4-1) Friday. On Oct 19, the Black Raiders host Hermon (3-2).

 

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AROUND THE STATE: This week’s game of the year — Wells (5-0) at Leavitt (5-0) on Saturday — should give the winner the edge in the race for the top seed in the Class C South playoffs. Wells carries a 33-game win streak into the game… There’s an interesting crossover game in Class D this weekend, with Oak Hill playing at Bucksport. These teams met for the Class D state title in 2013, with Oak Hill winning to take the first of its three straight state titles… Maranacook remained the lone undefeated team in the 8-man division with a 22-12 win over Ellsworth last week. The Black Bears play at Sacopee Valley (1-4) Friday.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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