FARMINGTON – For a year now, the Mt. Blue High football team has been motivated by the pain of a one-point loss tattooed into its collective memory. Leavitt’s 2-point conversion in the second overtime in the Eastern Class B final ended the Cougars’ season.
On Friday night at Kemp Field, top-seeded Mt. Blue took a 42-14 victory against sixth-ranked Waterville to earn a spot in the Class B state final next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. The win didn’t erase the sting of last season’s tough loss at Leavitt, but it certainly helped.
“Worst feeling I’ve ever felt (was) last year, that last game. Best feeling walking off the field right now. I’ve been waiting since last year,” said fullback/linebacker Chad Luker, who ran for four touchdowns and 74 yards.
Mt. Blue (11-0) will face the winner of today’s Western Class B final between York and Marshwood.
“They’re a really good football team. We fought hard but they were better and they beat us,” Waterville Coach Frank Knight said.
Mt. Blue ran 48 times for 367 yards and didn’t throw one pass in the second half, handing the ball to Luker and Calan Lucas (17 carries for 148 yards). Quarterback Jordan Whitney ran 12 times for 90 yards.
“Our offensive line did a nice job, and (Luker) is tough to tackle,” Mt. Blue Coach Gary Parlin said. “I guess that may be the understatement tonight.”
Luker scored 31/2 minutes into the game on a 5-yard run. After a Waterville punt, Whitney’s 23-yard run made it 14-0 with 5:55 left in the first quarter.
The Panthers (6-5) had tweaked their defense, but Knight said they went back to their traditional style early.
“We don’t like to change defenses. We’ve been getting better but we thought we’d do some other things,” Knight said. “It ended up not working out for us. We went back to what got us here. We just fell short.”
With 1:29 left in the half, Luker scored on a 10-yard run to push the lead to 21-0. That’s when Waterville made the game close.
Racean Wood returned the ensuing kick 47 yards to the Mt. Blue 47. Three plays later, Aidan FitzGerald threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Nick Danner. The extra point failed, and it was 21-6 with 35.4 seconds left.
On the first play of Mt. Blue’s next series, Brian Bellows anticipated a quick screen pass, jumped in front and went 24 yards for the score. Bellows then threw a 2-point conversion pass, and in the span of 14 seconds, Waterville had cut Mt. Blue’s lead to 21-14.
Parlin said that interception wasn’t a factor in deciding to stick exclusively to the run game in the second half.
“I think if it’s 21-0 we would have done the same thing,” he said. “I totally trust Jordan Whitney (6 of 9, 71 yards passing) anytime he touches the ball.”
The Cougars held the Panthers three-and-out on the first series of the third quarter, then got a 3-yard Luker touchdown run for a 28-14 lead midway through the quarter.
“We knew we were getting the ball in the second half,” Knight said. “That’s a very important possession and we weren’t able to capitalize on it. That would have been an opportunity for us to stay in the game, make it more competitive but hey, that’s why they’re undefeated.”
Luker scored his fourth touchdown with 6:40 left, this time on a 2-yard run. Lucas added a 4-yard touchdown run with 1:58 to play.
“The first half, I was actually kind of wondering why we were throwing the ball. It wasn’t working too great, we just weren’t having a good pass day,” Luker said.