2018 H.S. Football Preview: Hard-working Cougars set sights on playoffs

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Mt. Blue football Nate Quirion explains a formation to his players in Farmington during the preseason. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)

FARMINGTON — Mt. Blue football coach Nate Quirion said success will come this season — if the Cougars focus on several goals.

“We will work to play sound fundamental football in all three phases of the game — with particular emphasis on playing mistake-free,” the second-year coach said.

There is no question Quirion and “his hard working, tough kids, who are eager to compete,” are determined to flip last season’s 1-7 finish.

“We need to create more big plays on offense and finish in the red zone,” Quirion said. “Defensively, we need to create more takeaways and limit big plays.”

The Cougars will be employing a pro-style offense, featuring the run game and play-action.

The Cougars lost a couple of heartbreakers to several teams in the league. In their opener, they fell to Waterville, 21-7. But Mt. Blue rebounded with a convincing 34-0 win over Hamden Academy the next week. Westbrook barely slipped away from the Cougars with a 28-27 win. Mt. Blue had Brunswick on the ropes in the seventh game of the season before the Dragons marched off with 38-22 victory.

Quirion is counting on a slew of veterans who took their lumps last season, including seniors Kile Heikkinen (WR/SS), Randy Barker, (FB/LB), Noah Bell (QB/CB), Levi Hiltz )TE/OLB), Colin Hutchins (OL/DL) and Caleb Young, (WR/OLB).

Besides a talented contingent of veterans, Quirion has set his sights and hopes on a particular junior ball carrier — Kevon Johnson — a 6-foot-1, 180-pound tailback, who also plays outside linebacker.

“Kevon will compete for carries at the tailback position,” Quirion said. “He has worked hard and is a talented player as well as a great student.”

Quirion knows winning also depends on how well his Cougars perform in critical situations in a tight game.

“We had a tremendous summer,” Quirion said. “Our players were very committed and did everything we asked. They are a hardworking group.”

The Cougars spent hours working out and getting in shape for the coming season.

“We believe that nothing great ever happened without enthusiasm,” Quirion told the Sun Journal in June. “We emphasize enthusiasm, energy and intensity in everything we do.

“Our staff believes strongly in the benefits of implementing a strength and conditioning program. We feel it helps to build camaraderie, teamwork, resiliency and confidence in everyone involved.”
 
Senior Dakota Mumma said the benefits of working out will payoff in big dividends when his football season begins.

“I’d say you get stronger for the season coming up and it builds a better bond with teammates and coaches,” Mumma said. “I love it. I am one of the most loudest in there and I make sure everyone else is loud.”

“Our goal is to improve each week — to play physical, fundamental football (and) to limit mistakes,” Quirion said “Our biggest goal is to develop our leadership so that we can handle any adversity that comes our way. Our goal is to take the next step as a program and be a playoff team.”

Quirion knows a playoff appearance will prove just how far the Cougars have come this season.

“We are excited to compete,” Quirion said. “We want to see where we are at as a team.

“What we deserve is to experience success because we have worked very hard. However, we understand that we must outperform our opponents in order to experience success.

“We want to improve as a program and establish who we are going to be from this point forward. This is an exciting time. We are excited to build on our summer’s work.”

The Mt. Blue football team is hopping their hard work pays off and sets up the Cougars for a postseason appearance.Mt. Blue football coach Nate Quirion oversees a preseason practice in Farmington.Mt. Blue players practice kicks during field-goal practice. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)Mt. Blue football coach Nate Quirion rounds up his players during a preseason practice. (Tony Blasi/Sun Journal)

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