Don’t call Lisbon football coach Dick Mynahan a fortune-teller. He scouted Maine Central Institute — a team he would only face in the state championship — twice during the season, but it was due to preparation, not prediction.

Yet Mynahan’s non-existent prediction came true, and the Huskies squad he traveled to watch twice is the one he will now face in the Class D state championship on Saturday night at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“That’s why you go up there. It’s a long trip,” Mynahan said of the 72-mile trek from Lisbon to Pittsfield. “You owe it to your team to make sure you do what you can do if it should happen. We hoped to be there, but no guarantees.”

The Greyhounds (8-1) needed a miraculous, last-second win over Winthrop/Monmouth in the Class D South regional final to get to the state championship for the first time since 2006. They beat one undefeated team, and will now face another in MCI (11-0), which routed Dexter in the North regional final. The Huskies are playing in their third straight state final, but are looking for their first victory since 1974.

“Certainly we’re hoping for a different outcome,” MCI coach Tom Bertrand said. “It’s tough to go a couple of times and come up short.”

Mynahan said the Huskies’ experience playing in recent state finals, and the experience and motivation of losing those games, might give MCI a leg up. It was a similar advantage that his team had last week, having lost the previous two regional finals to Oak Hill, which upended the Huskies in consecutive state finals.


“All those kids bring in a lot of experience, and they’ve been to Fitzpatrick, so they’re not going to be getting those pre-game jitters that we’re going to have,” Mynahan said.

Bertrand said his team now knows how to prepare for the state final. It’s the what to prepare for that is the challenge.

The Huskies haven’t face a team as big as Lisbon all season, so Saturday’s state final will see Bertrand’s team use a wait-and-see approach on defense.

“Their size is definitely something that’s going to be a factor for us,” Bertrand said. “They’ve got some real good athletes at the skill positions.”

Bertrand said Lisbon senior quarterback Tyler Halls is obviously a key for his team to try and stop. But the Huskies need to account for all of the Greyhounds’ backs, including 275-pound bruising senior back Noah Francis, who MCI can’t duplicate in practice.

Mynahan has a similar problem to worry about for his defense. The Huskies have a dynamic senior QB in Josh Buker, then a host of skill players.


“We’ll put the ball in the hands of about 12 different guys,” said Bertrand, who noted that Buker and fullback Eli Bussell have carried most of the load.

Mynahan singled out Buker — who he compared to former Oak Hill QB Dalton Therrien — as someone who his team needs to stop to be successful.

“I think their quarterback is probably the best I’ve seen around. He’s the slipperiest runner I’ve seen. He’s hard to bring down,” Mynahan said. “They’ve got quite a backfield. Probably the best that I think I’ve seen in a long time.”

The Huskies averaged an astounding 42.5 points per game, and never scored less than 35.

“We’re not a high-scoring team, and we’re going to have to work for what we get,” Mynahan said. “They can strike quick. So we have to try to control the ball a little bit, and make no mistakes.”

Mynahan said he can’t take much from his four previous championship appearances — including three wins — into his fifth. He knows what he can can say to the kids, but “it’s just a game,” he said. “You coach it the way you do any other game.”

Win or lose, this will be Mynahan’s final game. His players know that. So does Bertrand, who is aware that he’s matching up with a coach with a wealth of experience, and maybe a trick or two up his sleeve.

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