Brewer’s Bryce Basso, left, and Caleb Thibodeau can’t catch up with Cony’s Aidan Coulombe before he crosses the goal line to score a touchdown during a Class B North quarterfinal football game Friday at Fuller Field in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal


Everyone on the Cony football team was happy after the Class B North quarterfinal win over Brewer. But there’s a reason Aidan Coulombe may have had the broadest grin of everyone.

Coulombe returned to action as the Rams’ top ballcarrier, carrying 13 times for 81 yards and two touchdowns in Cony’s 41-6 victory at Fuller Field on Friday night.

It was Coulombe’s first time in the spotlight since dislocating his right shoulder in a Week 3 win over Brunswick, an injury that Cony coach B.L. Lippert initially feared would cost the speedy halfback his season. Coulombe returned the previous weekend in the regular-season finale in Brewer, but barely saw the field. On Friday, though, he was back in a starring role.

“It’s a great feeling coming back. I feel amazing,” Coulombe said. “I know that they needed me when I was gone, and to be able to fill that role, it’s great for my team and for myself.”

Like Lippert, Coulombe wondered if he’d be back on the field.

“I worried that I wouldn’t come back,” he said. “I looked at what my options were, and originally I thought I wasn’t going to come back. And then after the Lawrence game, when they came here and we beat them and it was a great atmosphere, I looked more into it and I decided to give it a shot. It’s my last season, and if I dislocate it, I dislocate it. I came back, and I’m glad I did.”

Coulombe took both handoffs and a few direct snaps as part of a wildcat formation Cony utilized. He ran like the injury was far from his mind, lowering his shoulder on runs and consistently running through tackles for whatever extra yards he could get.

“I wasn’t favoring it at all, I felt great out there,” said the senior, who two years earlier to the day had surgery to repair a torn ACL. “The thing about football is, if you’re playing conservatively, you’ll get laid out. So you’ve got to play full force all the time. That’s how I’m going to play.”

“He’s been kind of the bell cow for this class since they were in fifth grade,” Lippert said. “He’s scored probably 85 percent of the touchdowns this senior class has scored in sixth grade and eighth grade. His freshman year, he scored 20 or 25 touchdowns in freshman and JV football. So he’s been the star of that class for a long time.”


• • •


The situation seemed dire for the Maine Central Institute football team Friday night. The Huskies trailed Belfast 38-13 at halftime of their Class C North quarterfinal, and the season was slipping away.

According to MCI coach Tom Bertrand, however, there wasn’t panic. The Huskies knew why they were down. Therefore, they knew what they needed to do to play better.

“We regrouped at halftime and talked to the kids about the things they needed to do differently,” Bertrand said. “It was going to take one score at a time. We weren’t going to get it all back at once.”

So began the most impressive comeback thus far of the Maine football playoffs. MCI came all the way back, finishing with a stunning 49-46 win that sent the sixth-seeded Huskies to the regional semifinals and a matchup with Winslow.

“There wasn’t ever a moment where we didn’t think we could do it,” Bertrand said. “That’s always out of the equation for us. I’m just impressed and happy with them that they found that way to get over that hump and finish.”

There were heroes all over the place for MCI. There was Max Bottenfield, who completed 17 of 33 passes for 436 yards and five touchdowns. Caleb Kennedy (191 yards, three touchdowns), Braden Fitts (116 yards, touchdown) and Lincoln McAlpine (four catches, 108 yards) topped 100 yards receiving. Bryce Bussell made 16 tackles. And Kyle Hall, in the game’s pivotal moment, had an end zone interception midway through the fourth quarter following a Kennedy touchdown that kept MCI in the game.

MCI has struggled to find a rhythm offensively all season. But when they needed it, the Huskies found an answer.

“We weren’t running anything a lot different in the second half. … We started to take what they gave us,” Bertrand said. “I think just the ability for Max to be able to see things and share the ball and move it around and not try to do everything himself was a maturing point for him as a quarterback. … It fit in well with what we were doing.”


• • •


Waterville’s Julian Nabarowsky kicks off against MDI during an Eight-man Large North playoff football game Friday at Drummond Field in Waterville. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal


Waterville’s 50-40 playoff victory over Mount Desert Island got off to a shaky start.

The Purple Panthers haven’t been slowed much this season, but they stumbled out of the gates in the semifinals of the eight-man large school North bracket. Quarterback Liam Von Oesen kept for 17 yards on the second play from scrimmage, but two plays later lost a fumble near midfield. Six plays later, the Trojans took a 6-0 lead, with Aiden Grant running in from 4 yards out.

It was a start that could have left a No. 1 seed staggered and reeling. But Von Oesen capped the next series with an 8-yard touchdown run, and the Purple Panthers were back on track.

“That took a lot of mental toughness,” Von Oesen said. “For a lot of teams, that brings them down. Two years ago, that brings us down. I think the morale of the team has changed throughout the years, and we’re in a great spot right now.”

Waterville returned the favor, recovering a fumble two MDI series later and turning it into a score for a 22-12 lead. The Panthers never let the Trojans get within 10 points the rest of the way.

“We got pushed a few times mentally by MDI today where we really had to buckle back down and focus,” Waterville coach Isaac LeBlanc said. “We did just enough.”

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