ORONO — When Frank Giufre discovered that Josh Spearin gave an interview to the media this week, Giufre’s eyebrows narrowed and he shook his head.

“He’s not supposed to be doing interviews. He’s going to get fined,” said Giufre, who coaches the University of Maine offensive line while coordinating the Black Bears’ running game.

“People normally know offensive linemen when they do something wrong. We like to stay anonymous.”

Yeah, OK, but fined?

A hint of a smile finally appeared.

“I’ll have to take his Mountain Dew away from him,” Giufre said.

Giufre was joking on two fronts. He was not going to fine Spearin … and he knew better than to mess with Spearin’s Mountain Dew.

“That would be like taking away my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee,” Giufre said.

Besides the daily dose of caffeine, there is more to Spearin and the rest of the Maine offensive line.

They have grown into the job and now lead the Black Bears’ offense into the NCAA Football Championship Sub-division (FCS) quarterfinals Saturday, in a 2 p.m. game at third-ranked Georgia Southern.

If the 13th-ranked Black Bears are to pull the upset, they have to master a few areas, especially on defense. But Maine’s offense also has its challenges.

“We need to take care of their defensive line. That’s the strength of their defense,” said Spearin, a junior left tackle. “We want to keep the offense on the field. (Have a) good time of possession, and get some successful drives going.”

In the Black Bears’ 34-12 victory against Appalachian State last week in the playoffs, Maine’s first drive went for a touchdown.

“That was exciting,” Spearin said.

And the Black Bears kept moving the ball, giving Pushaun Brown and David Hood room to run.

“The offensive line did a good job of creating that seam early,” Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove said.
“And we protected our quarterback very well.”

This is Maine’s first taste of the playoffs since 2008. After that season, Cosgrove found his team thin, especially on the offensive line.

In walked Spearin from Limington, fresh from his days at Bonny Eagle High under Coach Kevin Cooper, a former Maine assistant.

The plan in Orono was to redshirt Spearin, the common procedure to keep a player out of games for one season, allowing him a chance to assimilate in the college game while also giving him an extra year of eligibility.

All of the other Maine linemen sat out their first year and began playing their next season as redshirt freshmen.

But in 2009, Cosgrove needed Spearin.

“Unfortunately we did have to play him as a (true) freshman,” Cosgrove said. “I wish we hadn’t, but we had to because we were not good enough at the time – depth-wise, ability-wise – to go with the guys that were older.

“Josh was one of our best 11 out there.”

Spearin’s first starting assignment came against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.

“He played against an All-American defensive end, and Josh played pretty well,” Giufre said.

Spearin was part of a young offensive line. Three others are still starting – junior center Garret Williamson, junior guard Chris Howley, and senior tackle Steve Shea of Corinna (and Nokomis High). Sophomore guard Jeff Gakos is the rookie of the group.

“After ’08 we had a lot of young players,” Spearin said. “It was nice to see the coach’s faith in young players and watch them grow up and get better, myself included. Nice to have it all come together now.”

And if it keeps coming together, Spearin can expect more text messages of congratulations from Cooper and Bonny Eagle assistant coach John Suttie, plus former Scots teammates.

And there would be more practices in Orono. More meetings with the coaches. More coffee for Giufre and another Mountain Dew for the starting left tackle.

And maybe more interviews.

These anonymous linemen are making a name for themselves.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH