by Mike Mandell and Liz Graves
BAR HARBOR — The Mount Desert Island High School varsity football team defeated the visiting Stearns/Schenck team Friday at home. The final score was 51-28.
At first, it didn’t look like the game was going to go that way.
Stearns won the coin toss and returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Their 2-point conversion attempt failed.
“We didn’t want to start the football game that way, that’s for sure, but you sometimes have those moments early in the season where you make those errors on special teams,” MDI head coach Mark Arnold said.
“I was happy that our kids came out, believed in themselves and turned it right around.”
The Trojans didn’t score on their next possession, but they recovered a fumble on the Minutemen’s first play.
MDI scored the next five touchdowns, including one 42-yard pass from Baylor Landsman to Sam Mitchell, and was leading 39-6 in the last minute of the first half. Stearns scored with 18 seconds left on the clock, bringing the halftime score to 39-14.
The Trojans were the first to score in the second half, extending their lead to 45-14. Then, back-to-back touchdowns from the Minutemen brought the score to 45-28.
Mitchell made the final touchdown run with less than two minutes left in the game, for a final score of 51-28.
Arnold said he was impressed with the team’s improvement after their preseason loss to Hampden Academy. “Our kids worked really hard to improve from the week before to improve some things we saw on film against Hampden,” he said.
And, offensive totals of 301 rushing yards and 154 passing yards are nothing to sniff at.
“Baylor [Landsman] threw the ball really well and got in an early rhythm, and that was a big part of our game because the way we throw the football is to open up the running game for us,” Arnold said. “Both of those things happening for us early was a big part of our success on offense.”
MDI was originally supposed to open the season against Old Town, but Orono’s cancellation of the entire season caused some last-minute shuffling. The coaches and players had been studying tape of Old Town games, Arnold said, so “it definitely was an adjustment for us.
“But our kids were just excited to go out and play football. We had a good week in practice leading up to [the game], so I don’t think they were really affected by the change.”
Next up, the Trojans host Maine Central Institute on Friday at 7 p.m.
“This is a good football team, there’s no doubt about it,” Arnold said of MCI. “For the past several years, they’ve been one of the best teams whether they’ve been playing in Class C or playing in Class D. … Our kids are hungry to face this team, and we’ve had guys putting in sprints and coming in early to work and get better. It will be a tough test.”