GARDINER — Opening night could not have gone much better for the Gardiner football team.

The Tigers established their defense early, then found success in the air on offense on the way to a 37-12 win over Mt. Blue on Friday night at Hoch Field.

Quarterback Chase Burgess was 11 for 18 passing for 143 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 38 yards and a touchdown. His biggest target of the night was Zach Kristan, who had five receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns.

“It was a great game out there, the whole team put effort in, it was just a great game,” Burgess said.

“Everyone pitched in and it was a great team effort,” Kristan added.

Burgess, a junior, was able to move down the field with short passes in the flat, setting up deep passes down the field to Kristan, a senior. Both of Kristan’s touchdowns came on the same route, a seam down the middle of the field, with no defenders near him.


“(Mt. Blue) kind of played a weird defense,” Kristan said. “It was some quarters (for coverage), maybe Cover 2. We found a seam, got me in the end zone and that’s all that matters.”

Gardiner (1-0) made its presence known early on defense, holding Mt. Blue (0-1) to just 114 yards of total offense and forcing three turnovers — two interceptions and a fumble recovery — in the first half.

“Our first practice of the year was a defensive practice, and that was where we needed to get back to and set our tone,” Gardiner head coach Pat Munzing said. “Our offensive scheme is what it is and we’re moving the ball around. But to settle us as a team, it’s defense first, Cat Pack first. To see that in our first game, causing turnovers and sacks, it’s all the things we’ve been drilling for the last three weeks, it made a huge difference.”

Added Burgess: “This week, we really worked on defense a lot. It all came together this week. We really played hard out there, and practice makes perfect.”

After Cody Dingwell intercepted a Tucker Fitch pass on Mt. Blue’s first possession, the Tigers matched 50 yards down the field for their first score, a 1-yard plunge by Burgess, for a 7-0 lead. Gardiner made it 14-0 early in the second quarter, when running back Evan Michaud scored on a 2-yard run into the end zone.

The Tigers lengthened the lead to 21-0 when Burgess hit Kristan for their first touchdown connection, a 25-yard strike, just before halftime.


The pair found each other again, this time for a 24-yard touchdown, late in the third quarter for a 30-0 lead. Even the backups found success in the air, as Asher Nagy found Brady Davidson for a 5-yard score late in the fourth quarter. Nagy was 6 of 7 passing for 35 yards in relief of Burgess.

Fitch, a sophomore, was replaced by senior Klay Dunning late in the first half. The Mt. Blue offense was noticeably stronger in the second half. Running back Dane Cousineau scored on a 3-yard run, setting himself up with a 47-yard run one play earlier, to cut Gardiner’s lead to 30-6 in the fourth. Alex Rackliff added a 6-yard touchdown run with two seconds remaining in the game to complete the scoring.

“(The second half) was encouraging,” Mt. Blue head coach Matt Friedman said. “We’ve got some young kids in some spots, and they’re just developing. I was very encouraged with how we came out in the second half and just kind of played more physical, with a bit more confidence.”

Cousineau had 124 rushing yards on 19 carries. Dunning was 4 of 7 passing for 51 yards.

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