BAR HARBOR — It’s been a week of developments for the Mount Desert Island football team ahead of the Trojans’ 2021 season.
MDI participated Friday in its first preseason game and claimed a victory over Mattanawcook Academy in Bar Harbor. That game came a day after one of the Trojans’ upcoming opponents announced it would not be fielding a football team this year — and four days before MDI picked up a new opponent for Week 1.
On Friday, MDI came back from a 30-8 halftime deficit to earn a 38-30 victory over visiting Mattanawcook. The result, though, was of lesser importance as both teams prioritized reps and development ahead of the result on the scoreboard.
MDI fell behind 22-0 in the first half before an Aiden Grant touchdown run and 2-point conversion pass from Spencer Laurendeau to Alex Gray got the Trojans on the scoreboard with 1 minute, 16 seconds left in the half. Yet Mattanawcook took a 30-8 lead to the locker room after mounting a quick drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
Less than three minutes into the second half, a 36-yard scamper from Alex Gray down the right-sideline and a 2-point run from Brendan Graves cut MDI’s deficit to 30-16. The Trojans then pulled within one score a minute into the fourth quarter as an 18-yard pass from Gray to Jacob Shields and another 2-point run from Graves made the score 30-24.
MDI then took the lead with 4:58 to play as a 13-yard score from Gray and 2-point run from Shields put the home team up 32-30. The Trojans scored the final points of the evening less than a minute later as Wilder Noyes recovered a fumble and took it 25 yards for a touchdown.
MDI will open its season at home against Stearns/Schenck at 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4. The Trojans had been scheduled to open on the road against Washington Academy Sept. 3, but those plans have changed after the Raiders announced last Thursday that they were canceling their 2021 season.
“Due to unforeseen circumstances, Washington Academy will not field a football team in 2021,” the school’s athletic director, Rich Olivares, told MDI Athletic Director Bunky Dow in an email sent last Thursday. “We have had a challenge getting our numbers to an appropriate level allowing us to compete with member schools.”
The decision to drop football came just three days after Washington Academy competed against MDI and Ellsworth/Sumner in a three-team controlled scrimmage at Ellsworth High School. The Raiders were forced to participate in that scrimmage with no available substitutes after only eight players made the trip to Ellsworth.
“We had 10 players last week [and were] hoping to get more when school starts. However, we lost three players this week,” said Olivares, who is also the football team’s head coach. “If we were to start the season, we would not finish with such low numbers. It is in the best interest of the safety and welfare of our student athletes to pull the plug on the season.”
Washington Academy was set to join MDI among the 16 teams making the jump from 11-man football to eight-man football this fall. The Raiders, who previously competed in Class D North and the Little Ten Conference, were set to play in the eight-man format’s Small-School North division in 2021.
Following Washington Academy’s cancellation, MDI was set to be idle for Week 1 and play a six-game schedule this season. Yet those plans changed Tuesday when Stearns/Schenck’s scheduled opponent, Mount View, was forced to drop its Week 1 contest.
“This means MDI will play Stearns in a home-and-away contest, but at this point that is a minor issue,” said Dow, alluding to the Trojans’ other scheduled contest against Stearns/Schenck this year (Sept. 24 in Millinocket). “Just being able to play is awesome.”