Brunswick High running back Will Bessey rushed for 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns last season as a junior.

And last week he flashed impressive versatility in a 32-16 win over Lawrence – throwing a touchdown pass and returning an interception for a touchdown.

Bessey was a tailback last fall for the Eastern Class B champions, but this year Coach Dan Cooper is playing him at fullback and linebacker.

“We might also use Will at tailback, wingback and at quarterback in the wildcat,” Cooper said. “We don’t want to put too much on his plate right away. We’ll work it in slowly.”

Bessey played a little fullback toward the end of last season and this year he’s playing linebacker for the first time. He weighs about 200 pounds, 10 more than last season.

“He’s more durable,” Cooper said. “We want to utilize all his skills – running, blocking and passing.”

In two games this year, Bessey has gained 196 yards on 32 carries, with three rushing touchdowns and one as a receiver. He’s also made nine tackles.

A running back who can pass puts a lot of pressure on defenses. With a runner of Bessey’s talents, the secondary has to decide quickly whether to come up and make the tackle, or hold back and defend the pass.

“He can run it or throw it,” Cooper said. “He throws a good ball.”

Bessey threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Alan Molnar in the fourth quarter against Lawrence, and returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown.

But the Dragons are anything but a one-man show.

Quarterback Thomas Hanson threw two touchdown passes in the first game of the season – a 54-0 victory against Hampden Academy – and had big completions against Lawrence. Also, Ben Palizay returned a punt 59 yards for a touchdown against Lawrence.

“We struggled a little against Lawrence. Special teams won us the game,” Cooper said.

One thing is clear, though.

“When the going gets tough, we’re going to lean on Will,” Cooper said.

The Dragons play at Cony on Friday night. The Brunswick-Cony rivalry has been one of the best in the state in recent seasons.

Cony won regional and state honors two years ago. Brunswick won the regional title last season and has designs of returning to the state championship game and this time winning it.

“We’re facing a big challenge with Cony this week,” Cooper said.

WESTBROOK COULD easily be 2-0 but is 0-2 after a pair of tough losses. The Blue Blazes lost to Leavitt 22-21 on Sept. 4 and to Falmouth 14-7 on Sept. 11. Now they face games at Marshwood, the defending Class B state champion, on Friday night and at Biddeford on Sept. 25.

“We’re disappointed about the first two games but we haven’t crossed off anything on our goals list,” said Coach Jeff Guerette. “Everything we want to accomplish is within our reach.”

The Blazes have shown a strong passing game, but Guerette knows they will have to run the ball to get back on track.

“We’re looking for more offensive balance,” he said.

DANE JOHNSON, Bangor’s star running back, suffered a shoulder sprain in the first quarter of last week’s game at Windham. At halftime Johnson was on the sideline, wearing a sling. Bangor (0-2) is home Friday night against Bonny Eagle (0-2).

“We’re hoping that he’ll be able to play,” said Bangor Coach Al Mosca. “It will be a game-time decision.”

With the Rams trailing 7-0, Johnson broke runs of 14 and 16 yards to help drive Bangor to the 1-yard line.

Windham held on a goal-line stand and Johnson was injured in the process.

“Losing Dane took the wind out of us. Windham seized the moment,” Mosca said of the 42-0 loss. “My hat’s off to them.”