Leavitt’s Wyatt Hathaway evades MCI’s Isaac Bussell during the opening football game of the season between the two teams in Turner in 2018. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Perhaps the No. 1 thing any football coach can ask for heading into a championship game is health.

Well, Leavitt and Maine Central Institute both are as healthy as they’ve been all season heading into Friday night’s Class C state title game, which means both Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway and MCI coach Tom Bertrand will have all their best players at their disposal.

“The win last week against Winslow (in the Class C North regional final) was encouraging for us. It was the first time since Week 2 that we have had all of our starters on the field together,” Bertrand said.

The biggest player — in both importance and stature — that the Huskies (9-2) have back is senior lineman Harrison Sites.

“With their big lineman, Harrison Sites, back healthy, they moved their best lineman, Isaac Bussell, to tailback for both games versus Winslow,” Hathaway said. “He is a big back and Sites is an excellent offensive tackle and defensive end. Bussell plays middle linebacker and is a stud there too.”

Bertrand pointed to Bussell, another senior, as one of his team’s key players.

The Hornets (11-0) also were without some key players at points during the season, but all were ready for last weekend’s South regional final against York. That meant a complete secondary that held the pass-heavy Wildcats in check after the opening drive.

Leavitt’s Damion Calder tries to escape a tackle by MCI’s Isaac Bussell last season. Sun Journal file photo by Andree Kehn

The Huskies will be more balanced, according to Bertrand, but the run game has paced them during their playoff run. Still, Hathaway is leery of MCI’s passing game.

“The QB, Ryan Friend, is mobile, experienced and can throw,” Hathaway said. “Will Russell and Dominic Wilson are good receivers. … We can’t allow those three to get loose and make big plays.”

The Hornets also have potential for big plays, and Bertrand noted that they have “lots of good athletes playing on both sides with both size and speed.”

That includes Leavitt’s towering ends Cam Jordan and Cole Morin and the small-but-speedy Calder twins, DaSean and Damion. And, like Friend, Leavitt junior quarterback Wyatt Hathaway can run when he needs to.

Defensively, Bertrand said his team likes to be “fairly aggressive,” while Hathaway said his team prefers to avoid blitzes and just have all 11 players stick to their assignments.

Both teams would like to avoid allowing those big plays, and Hathaway stressed getting off the field on third down. That worked for the Hornets in their regional final.

But the Huskies are coming off a 49-point showing against Winslow in the North final.

“As usual, Coach Bertrand has them playing their best come playoff time,” Hathaway said.

The Hornets and Huskies last met in the 2018 season opener in Turner, which Leavitt won 28-0.

The Hornets are making their 11th state championship appearance and first since 2014. They have won six titles, the last coming in 2013 when they defeated Winslow 47-18 in the Class C championship.

MCI reached four consecutive championship games from 2014-17, winning the Class D state title in 2016 with a last-second 20-14 win over Lisbon, and the Class C title in 2017 by beating Cape Elizabeth. Friday will be the Huskies’ eight state championship appearance.


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