Mount Desert Island High School’s Alden Fournier evades a Hampden Academy player during a controlled scrimmage Aug. 21 in Bar Harbor. Fournier was one of many MDI running backs who propelled the team’s dominant ground attack in the scrimmage. PHOTO COURTESY OF BARRY GUTRADT

Trojan football looks sharp in scrimmage



BAR HARBOR — The Mount Desert Island High School football team’s playoff success last year might be old news. But if early indicators are to be believed, the Trojans are picking up right where they left off.

MDI High School’s Sam Mitchell barrels past a Hampden Academy player during a controlled scrimmage Aug. 21 in Bar Harbor. Although no official score was kept in the scrimmage, MDI notched nine touchdowns to Hampden’s one. PHOTO COURTESY OF BARRY GUTRADT

In one of the team’s first bits of action at Monday morning’s scrimmage against Hampden Academy, some of the same attributes that helped MDI to a Class C North championship in 2016 were on display once again.

No matter who was in the backfield or what the down and distance was, MDI’s rushing attack cut through the Hampden defense with ease. The offensive line beat the Broncos in the trenches. Skilled players broke tackles and made defenders miss en route to a lopsided victory.

“This was definitely a good start for us,” said MDI Head Coach Mark Shields. “We showed a lot of toughness early on in the game, and for the coaching staff, that’s what you want to see — guys going out there and getting right after it.”

Because the contest was a controlled scrimmage rather than an exhibition game, no official score was kept. The teams kept the ball for three consecutive possessions and switched between their first-, second- and third-string players throughout the scrimmage.

From the first possession, MDI took control. The Trojans’ ground attack reeled off three first downs in a row on the opening drive and eventually scored on a Colby Lee touchdown run on the seventh play.

MDI’s second drive fell short of the end zone, but the Trojans’ ensuing possession saw them score their second touchdown on another scamper by Lee. The Trojans then turned two of Hampden’s first three offensive possessions into points of their own with interception returns of 67 and 52 yards.

Hampden finally got on the scoreboard after MDI scored a fifth time. But Lee responded with long touchdown runs of 72 and 76 yards for the Trojans. A sixth touchdown run and a third interception return marked the final scores of the scrimmage, which MDI won by a margin of nine touchdowns to one.

“This team has a lot of gym rats and guys who show up to work hard, and that showed up in the way we played today,” Shields said. “With the running backs we have in our backfield, it’s hard to arm-tackle some of these guys. We have a physical team. When things get tough, they know how to respond when the time comes.”

In addition to the running backs, Shields also praised his defense. That defense had to replace Graham Good, Chris Farnsworth and other prominent players from last year’s Northern Maine title-winning team. But it delivered a performance similar to last year’s showings against Belfast, Hermon and Winslow, among others.

In addition to the three interception returns, that defense pressured Hampden’s quarterbacks throughout the game and stopped the Broncos’ running backs at the line of scrimmage. With the exception of Hampden’s lone touchdown, MDI didn’t give up a play longer than 15 yards all day.

“We were shuffling guys around in different spots, and some of those guys took advantage and made a bunch of important plays,” Shields said. “In this preseason game, a lot of what you do is about mixing things up, and I thought a lot of what we did worked.”

Despite his team’s stellar performance, Shields cited ball security as an area in which the Trojans must improve over the next two weeks. The team’s fourth and fifth possessions resulted in a total of five fumbles, one of which ended a promising drive on Hampden’s 1-yard line.

MDI faces Ellsworth-Sumner on the road at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25. It will be a rematch of last year’s preseason meeting between the Trojans and Eagles, which MDI won 46-8.

“Preseason or not, that’s always a big game in this community,” Shields said. “Our team will be fired up, and we know theirs will be, too. It’s the last chance we have against another team before the regular season kicks off, and we have to be ready to go in their house.”

 

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

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