BAR HARBOR — For players and coaches in the Mount Desert Island High School football program, summer ended and fall began all at once Monday. Football season has officially begun.
Twice-daily practices, 6-7:30 a.m. and 4:30-7 p.m. avoid the heat of the day. They’re aimed at helping the team get in shape, build endurance, practice skills, learn strategy and work together.
The upper field at the high school is a flurry of activity in the afternoon, as two Acadian Football League junior teams join the high school boys for their own practices. Seeing each other at work inspires both the younger and older players to do their best.
The coaches carefully watch how players handle the difficult warm-up stations, hustle between activities and encourage each other. Players have an incentive to give their all because no position assignments have been made yet.
Mark Shields returns as head coach. He will work closely with the defensive ends and running backs. Coach Mark Arnold is in charge of running backs and defensive backs. Coach Tony DeMuro trains the defensive line and tight ends and also coaches the JV team. New coach Chris McGuire rounds out the staff this year.
“If you work hard early and show the coaches you can handle it,” Shields told the players, “then we’ll have more time to work on offense (running plays).”
The coaches balance encouragement and tough love well. “Looking good,” Shields told one warm-up station. “Some of you must have gotten in a nap this afternoon.”
Pre-season scrimmages begin next week at Camden Hills Monday and against Ellsworth-Sumner Friday at 7 p.m. at MDI. The first regular season game is set for Saturday, Sept. 6, at Nokomis. The Trojans take on Belfast under the lights at home Friday, Sept. 12.