Messalonskee quarterback Brady Doucette (7) keeps the ball as he rushes for a touchdown while getting a block from teammate Garrett Card (8) during a game last Friday in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Victory for the Messalonskee football team had turned into defeat in a matter of seconds. But in the moments following a stunning 38-32 loss to Falmouth/Greely, one the Navigators had to drive 96 yards in 36 seconds to pull off, Eagles quarterback Brady Doucette was already willing to look at the bright side.

“It’s definitely not the end of the season,” said Doucette, who kept the Eagles in the game with 254 yards rushing and four touchdowns. “All we can do is think about the positives. Everybody played hard, everybody came to work.”

The root of the positive thinking comes from realizing that this is the sort of game Messalonskee would have longed to be in two years ago, when it was struggling through a second straight 0-8 season. Doucette was the quarterback for that team as a sophomore; now a senior, he sees a team that is showing it can be competitive each week.

“The culture has flipped,” Doucette said. “Everybody wants to be a leader, no matter what position they’re in.”

Coach Walter Polky likewise credited the Eagles for their competitiveness, but said the game showed the areas they need to improve as they continue progressing from a team that plays close games to one that wins them.

Messalonskee High School defensive back Sam Dube (5) breaks up a pass intended for Falmouth’s Max Hau (5) during a game last Friday in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“Falmouth and (us) were basically the same team. We made a couple of mistakes, they took advantage of it. When they made mistakes, we couldn’t finish,” he said. “But our kids played hard. We played 48 minutes, our kids played really hard. … We’ve just got to finish, finish games off and learn from the experience.”

The Eagles seemed to have the game finished off when, after Doucette’s fourth touchdown run made it 32-30 Messalonskee with 6:37 left, they went on an 11-play, 59-yard drive that chewed up 5:19 of clock and gave the Navigators the ball back at their own 4-yard line with 36.4 seconds to play. But Messalonskee struggled in pass coverage all night, and those issues showed themselves again as Falmouth/Greely needed only four plays to get the winning touchdown.

“It’s getting over the hump, that’s our thing right now,” Polky said. “We’ll put two and three quarters together, and then we won’t. We’re right there. We’ve just got to finish plays and finish drives, and defensively, we have to get them off the field on third down. It’s a learning situation. We play a lot of young players and it’s part of the process.”

 

• • •

 

Mt. Blue had only scored 10 points in three games going into the weekend, but coach Scott Franzose was confident the team’s fortunes on offense were getting ready to change.

He was right. The Cougars took down Old Town 37-7 for their first victory of the season, showing the kind of offensive balance Franzose had been looking for. Brody Walsh, Evan Downing and Evans Sterling caught touchdown passes for the Cougars (1-3), and quarterback Jayden Meader ran for another.

“The last couple of weeks, I really feel like we’ve turned a corner,” Franzose said. “We’ve had some success offensively. One of the big things that we stressed was finishing, we’ve had moments of success because, 10 points scored up to that point in the season, we just weren’t finishing drives. It seemed like we did a better job of really putting drives together and letting big plays happen.”

Lewiston’s Donovan Jackson and Mt. Blue’s Jayden Meader dive for a fumble during a Sept. 25 game in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Franzose said the offense, which came into the season with one returning starter, has been getting used to players in new roles. It’s the same story on defense, which similarly had a great night stopping Old Town’s offense cold.

“It kind of all came together,” he said. “They challenged us with triple option and speed, and I think we did a great job shutting it down.”

Franzose said he was happy with his team’s demeanor.

“It was nice to see them having fun playing football,” he said. “It’s just really good to get that kind of monkey off our back and get to where we feel we need to be.”

 

• • •

 

Like Mt. Blue, MCI needed a breakthrough with the end of the season approaching. The Huskies got it, beating Hermon 26-20 to improve to 1-3.

It’s been a season of growth for MCI, which with wins over Old Town and Gardiner would still be able finish the season at .500.

“We only suited 19 guys, so we had to hang in there right to the end,” MCI coach Tom Bertrand said. “They had one last chance to make something happen, and they were pretty successful through the air in different phases of the game. We knew that they were going to need to do that down the stretch, and our kids hung in there. So not just winning the game, but winning it and hanging in there until the end to get it done was a win for us in itself.”

MCI changed things up on offense, sliding Max Bottenfield over to quarterback and moving Kyle Hall to receiver.

“We put Max at quarterback this week just simply because of his ability to move with his feet a little bit better,” Bertrand said. “That’s definitely a forte for us, trying to find a way to get him the football, so we’re putting it in his hands from the start.”

Bertrand is hoping the momentum builds into the postseason.

“Another win gets us in,” he said. “And hopefully we’ll be poised for a little bit of a run,”

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