ORONO – For the third straight season, the University of Maine football team has a battle for the starting quarterback position.

Warren Smith and Chris Treister were locked in a battle for two years.

Smith won out both times, and last season led the Black Bears to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs and a No. 8 national ranking.

Now, it’s Marcus Wasilewski of Kulpmont, Pa., and John Ebeling of Mahwah, N.J., both juniors, vying for the starting job.

Saturday morning in blustery and chilly conditions, both looked to put their best foot forward in the Jeff Cole Spring Game at Alfond Stadium.

The culmination of a month of spring practice was a scrimmage with 60 plays pitting the first-team offense (Blue) against the first-team defense (White), with substitutions on both sides. The offense had the edge, as it scored three times.

But as for who came away with the edge at quarterback, it’s still neck and neck.

“They’ve been on the same level since Day 1,” said Coach Jack Cosgrove.

“We’re not done evaluating yet. Marcus made some good throws and John did likewise. We put the red shirts (non-contact) on them. It’s hard to see them at their best with those on.

“One of them with surface as No. 1, and that will happen in preseason.”

Unlike Smith and Treister before their spring battles, neither Wasilewski nor Ebeling has taken a snap from center in a regular-season game.

Ebeling was used as a wide receiver last season and caught two touchdown passes in the playoffs. Wasilewski saw some action on special teams.

The fact Ebeling can play elsewhere gives him more flexibility, but Cosgrove added, “That doesn’t mean he won’t be the starting quarterback.”

Cosgrove said Wasilewski is more of a pocket quarterback than Ebeling, who is more of a running threat.

Wasilewski threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Art Williams. It came near the end of the hour-long scrimmage and against the first-team defense.

“It was a great drive and I was proud of the offense line for taking charge,” said Wasilewski.

The line is anchored by left tackle Josh Spearin, a senior from Limington who played at Bonny Eagle.

“I thought we did all right on offense under these (weather) conditions,” said Wasilewski. “There are a lot of things we can work on. I missed a couple of throws and I can’t miss those. Overall, it was a productive day.”

Asked who he thought has the edge at quarterback, Wasilewski said: “That’s for the coaches to decide. All I can do is work hard. John will do the same.”

Cosgrove said he saw good things on both sides of the ball.

“It was a pretty clean scrimmage, with not a lot of penalties.”

One of the best things he liked about it was the number of young players who saw action.

“It’s their first spring with us. Those guys were in there with the first unit,” he said.

A concern heading into next season, said Cosgrove, is the defensive line.

“We’re not as experienced there,” he said. “We have some work to do. We have to grow our younger players into those spots.”

The other touchdowns were scored by running back Terrel Walker, a junior, and wide receiver Josiah Hartley, a red-shirt freshman from Bangor. Hartley caught a pass in the corner of the end zone from third-string quarterback Ryan Stroud of Dover-Foxcroft.

“It was a good feeling,” said Hartley. “The first year is a huge step. The biggest difference is the tempo and getting used to it. I feel I’ve improved my skills since the start of spring practice. I’m looking to get better and hopefully contribute in some way.”

Maine opens the season at Boston College on Sept. 8. Its first Colonial Athletic Association game is Sept. 29 against Villanova at home.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

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