ORONO — Dakota Tarbox is taking a little extra time to appreciate practice this week. He’s a senior defensive end for the University of Maine, which will play its final game of the season at noon Saturday against Stony Brook at Alfond Stadium.

“During the week I’m just trying to cherish every moment,” said Tarbox, who comes from Dayton and played at Thornton Academy in Saco. “I want to send it off in the good way and get a W to finish the season.”

This isn’t the way the Black Bears hoped the season finale would play out. Their playoff hopes were dashed Nov. 4 in a 31-17 loss to Delaware.

Now Maine (4-5 overall, 3-4 in the Colonial Athletic Association) hopes to finish at .500 while also playing the role of spoiler. Stony Brook, ranked 10th and 12th in the two national Football Championship Subdivision polls, is playing for a possible tie for the CAA championship, depending also on the outcome of the James Madison-Elon game.

Maine definitely will have a role in how the FCS playoffs shape up.

“We would like that,” said Isaiah Brooks, a senior offensive lineman. “Get a last win, be .500, change things up in the conference. That would be a great feeling.”

There are 24 seniors on the Black Bears, including four starters on the offensive line. The underclassmen want to win this game for them, but the seniors also feel they have something to prove.

“We’ve got one game left and have to finish strong, just for the love and passion of the game,” said Jamil Demby, a senior left tackle. “We’ll see what we’re made of. I definitely believe our guys will be ready.”

While Tarbox, who will graduate in May with a degree in business management, is embracing the final days, Brooks really doesn’t want to think about it yet.

“It hasn’t hit me yet. It probably won’t hit me until after the game,” said Brooks. “I’m so used to the routine, this is another part of life that’s getting ready to open up.”

Najee Goode, a senior cornerback, remembers how the upperclassmen told him when he was a freshman that his career would seem to go by quickly.

“It came so fast,” he said. “I’m proud of my career and what we accomplished. I wish we had been able to get to the playoffs and beat (New Hampshire) but it didn’t happen that way.”

The seniors never made the playoffs and did not defeat UNH. But, said Tarbox, he’ll remember “the friends and the close relationships I’ve made with everybody on the team.”

Likewise, Brooks will remember his teammates on the offensive line and “the little funny memories we made along the way, the little moments we had together. That’s what makes it so good.”

MICAH WRIGHT, Maine’s talented junior wide receiver, underwent knee surgery Wednesday. Coach Joe Harasymiak said he didn’t have the results but the surgery was to repair a torn ACL – and possibly more. “They didn’t know about some of the other stuff yet,” said Harasymiak.

Earlier, Harasymiak said Wright will miss spring practice and will be eased back into training camp next August.

Wright, a preseason all-CAA first-team selection at wide receiver, played only five games for the Black Bears this year because of injuries and a suspension that began on the first day of training camp, Aug. 3, and wasn’t lifted until Sept. 20.

He caught 13 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns, and averaged 13.6 yards on nine punt returns with a touchdown.

JUNIOR DEFENSIVE backs Jeff DeVaughn and Mozai Nelson will be game-time decisions as to whether they can play. “They’ve been a little banged up and it just might be time (to rest them),” said Harasymiak. “There’s a side of it that it’s just one more game, there’s a side of it that we’re entering the offseason. But they’ve just been really banged up.”

Sophomore linebacker Taji Lowe, recovering from a high ankle sprain, also will be a game-time decision.

Junior offensive tackle Cody Levy, who started the first six games, recovered from a back injury and, said Harasymiak, “looked good in practice Tuesday.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH