MCI ball carrier Isaac Bussell, right, eludes Winslow defender Colby Pomeroy during an Oct. 11 game in Pittsfield. Morning Sentinel file photo by Rich Abrahamson

PITTSFIELD — Opponents of the Maine Central Institute football team must have asked themselves this question: is it in MCI’s school charter the football team has a Bussell brother on the roster, and must he be one of the conference’s top players?

There was Eli Bussell, who scored the memorable championship-winning touchdown on the final play of the 2016 Class D state final. There was Seth, who was a key player on the 2017 Class C state championship-winning team who excelled at whatever position MCI coaches needed him to play. Now there’s Isaac Bussell, a senior middle linebacker and offensive lineman, who also saw some time as a fullback this season.

Check that school charter again. Are you sure there’s not a Bussell Clause?

“We move (Isaac) all over the place. He’s played some guard, played some tackle, played some fullback,” MCI coach Tom Bertrand said before Wednesday’s practice. “We try to get him to point of attack, offensively and defensively. It’s no secret.”

Wherever Bussell lines up on for Friday night’s Big 11 Conference semifinal game against John Bapst, the Crusaders will have to account for him. A win sends the Huskies (7-2) to a conference championship game for the fourth time in five seasons.

“Their option is really good, their dive-read option. They’re a good team and we need to respect them and not take it easy,” Bussell said of John Bapst.

A three-year starter at middle linebacker, Bussell finished the regular season with 108 tackles, 34 solo, and 3.5 sacks. Offensively, most of the season Bussell has helped the Huskies on the line, where he was a key blocker for a unit that averaged 402.5 yards and almost 37 points per game in the regular season. When he wasn’t blocking, it was because for two games, Bussell was asked to carry the ball.

Leading up to the October 11 game against Winslow, injuries left MCI’s backfield depleted. Bussell moved from guard to fullback, trading his number 76 for 34, and carried the ball 25 times for 169 yards and three touchdowns. Bussell followed that with seven carries for 74 yards against Medomak Valley the next week. Eli and Seth both carried the ball for the Huskies, offered their younger brother simple advice. Tuck the ball away, and don’t fumble.

Leavitt’s Damion Calder tries to escape a tackle by MCI’s Isaac Bussell last season. Sun Journal file photo by Andree Kehn

“I kind of like it,” Bussell said of his two game stint in the backfield. “I tried to shine like Seth and Eli did. When they ran the ball, they were noticed as hard-nosed football runners.”

Bussell has the athletic ability to play a number of positions, Bertrand said. First and foremost, MCI needs him on the line.

“He’s patiently waited for (the chance to run). He watched Seth do it the years before and I know he, of all of them, may be the most athletic and strong naturally,” Bertrand said. “We could play him at quarterback. He’s that kind of athlete. We need him up front because he’s so dominant, but we could play him at some other spots.”

As a sophomore Bussell was inserted at middle linebacker, allowing then-defensive leader Adam Bertrand to play safety. It’s a position Bussell has played since, and he’s become the leader of the Huskies defense.

“He’s got some great instincts, and he has since he started. He listens to what coach (Lincoln) Robinson is teaching him,” Bertrand said. “He’s quiet, but he’s one of those guys, when he talks people listen. He’s the senior leader of the team for sure. Ryan (Friend) and Cole (Steeves) are our two captains, and Isaac’s been a captain of the week for us most of the season, and well-deserved at that. When he speaks, the seniors listen for sure.”

A favorite memory of Bussell’s is his freshman season, playing with both his brothers and winning the Class D state title. Isaac and Seth were teammates in 2017, when the Huskies won the Class C crown.

“It was pretty cool. It was one of the only times all three of us were on a team, and the last time we’re all going to be on a team,” Bussell said. “I’m just trying to live up to the Bussell name.”

Bertrand said he doesn’t think Bussell feels any pressure because of the success his brothers had playing at MCI.

“Isaac’s a pretty laid back guy. He’s intense in his own way. He knows what he’s capable of. He loves football. It’s fun to him. I don’t think he feels a lot of pressure,” Bertrand said.

Eli Bussell is a junior linebacker at Plymouth State, where he’s second on the team in tackles. Seth Bussell is a freshman defensive lineman at Maine Maritime Academy, and has 25 tackles. Isaac said he’d like to play football at the University of Maine. Bussell would be a good fit at many college football programs, Bertrand said.

“We’ll have that conversation and see if that’s something he wants to pursue. If he does, I’m sure they’ll be somebody interested in him coming to play for them,” Bertrand said.

First, there’s the matter of beating John Bapst, and extending his high school football career.

“We just had to buy in to what our coaches were telling us and come together as a team, start playing like a team,” Bussell said.


Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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