ELLSWORTH — When the final seconds ticked off the clock to mark the end of a preseason football game at Ellsworth High School, neither team seemed happy.
As the Mount Desert Island and Ellsworth-Sumner coaches and players shook hands and went to their respective end zones, there was a sense that both teams felt they could have played better.
“That’s nowhere near good enough,” MDI Head Coach Mark Shields told his team. “If you come out and play like that next week, we’re not going to win.”
Although the game had its moments, both head coaches shared that sentiment following MDI’s 19-7 victory at Harold “Tug” White Stadium. With the regular season approaching, the Trojans and Eagles know they still have a lot of work to do.
“I liked a lot of what we did tonight, but it’s obvious that we still have a ways to go,” Ellsworth-Sumner Head Coach Duane Crawford said. “I think both teams are going to leave here saying, ‘Wow, we could’ve done more out there tonight.’”
MDI forced a three-and-out on the first possession of the game and set out on what had the makings of a successful drive, but three holding penalties and a false start hampered the Trojans’ march toward the end zone. Just when it looked as if MDI might still be able to finish the drive off with a touchdown, Ellsworth-Sumner recovered a fumble at the 10-yard line.
MDI’s Elijah Joyce would later open the scoring with a touchdown run just over a minute into the second quarter to make the score 6-0. It appeared as if the game would go into halftime with that score, but a fifth down that resulted from an officiating mistake led to an Andrew Phelps touchdown pass that made the score 12-0 with less than a minute remaining in the half.
The Eagles got back in the game after a fumble recovery on the first play of the second half led to an 18-yard touchdown pass from Connor Crawford to Javon Williams, but MDI responded with a long drive that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by Sam Mitchell for the game’s final score.
Shields was satisfied with what his team did defensively but said the Trojans weren’t physical enough overall. The result was a score that was much closer than MDI’s 46-8 blowout win last preseason.
“We came in here tonight, and Ellsworth outplayed us,” Shields said. “We might have put up more points on the scoreboard, but Ellsworth played better than us — especially in the trenches with the big guys.”
MDI faces a difficult start to the regular season, traveling Saturday, Sept. 2, for a 1 p.m. matchup against a Winslow squad that hasn’t lost at home since 2012.
“Like I told our team, we need to get a lot better,” Shields said. “Fortunately, it’s just a preseason game. Both teams have a bit more time to put in hard work and fix the mistakes.”