Bucksport’s Skyler McNair chases down Mount Desert Island’s Colby Lee during the first half of a high school football game Sept. 15 in Bucksport. The Golden Bucks lost the game 43-22. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

Bucksport football comes up short against MDI



BUCKSPORT — Three games into the 2017 football season, the Bucksport Golden Bucks are in a position they know all too well.

At this time last year, Bucksport was coming off a loss to Dexter that saw the team fall to 1-2 once again. It wasn’t until the very end of the year that the team rolled off five consecutive wins to secure a playoff berth.

After falling to visiting Mount Desert Island on Friday, Bucksport might be faced with that task once again. The Golden Bucks put together a sound performance for much of the game, but the team knows it has a long way to go.

“We have quite a bit to work on,” Bucksport head coach Joel Sankey told his team following the game. “We’ve got to cut back on our mistakes and cut back on our penalties.”

Bucksport lost 43-22 to MDI on Friday in a battle between Hancock County’s top teams. The Golden Bucks stuck with the Trojans for most of the game but ultimately couldn’t hold off MDI’s dominant ground game in the second half.

It didn’t take long for MDI’s Colby Lee to score the first touchdown of the game. After the Trojans ran the kickoff back to midfield and threw an incomplete pass on its first play, Lee took the handoff and ran down the left sideline for a 52-yard touchdown run. James McConomy’s extra point made the score 7-0.

After Bucksport’s Chase Carmichael threw a touchdown pass to Carter Tolmasoff from 15 yards out, MDI (2-1) extended its lead to 21-6 midway through the second quarter after touchdown runs from Elijah Joyce and Lee. The Golden Bucks then scored on a 2-yard screen pass from Carmichael to Luke Wardwell with 43 seconds left, and a successful 2-point conversion made the score 21-14 going into halftime.

Bucksport took its first lead of the game with 10 minutes, 28 seconds left in the third quarter. Chase Carmichael got the score for the Golden Bucks on a 1-yard plunge, and another successful 2-point attempt put the home team ahead 22-21.

From there, though, it was all MDI. Lee added touchdown runs of 57 and 31 yards to bookend a touchdown pass from Andrew Phelps to Abrahm Malloy in the third quarter, and the Trojans held on for the 21-point victory as both teams went scoreless in the fourth.

Carmichael went 10 of 17 with 80 passing yards and two touchdowns and an interception to lead Bucksport’s passing attack. Wardwell had 141 yards on 17 carries to lead the Golden Bucks on the ground.

MDI’s defense did an excellent job stopping Bucksport, which had scored 48 points in its previous game. Yet the biggest star for the Trojans was Lee, who finished the game with 288 yards on 21 carries and added four tackles and an interception on defense.

“I knew my team needed me,” Lee said. “Our linemen were stepping up big time and making those holes for me, and I just had to do my job.”

Bucksport isn’t likely to face a team as tough as MDI for the rest of the regular season. The Trojans play in Class C — a higher classification than the Golden Bucks — and are the defending Northern Maine champions at that level.

In the postgame handshake line, MDI head coach Shields had a positive message for Sankey and the rest of the Golden Bucks. The Trojans have another tough game upcoming at home against Hermon (3-0) at 7 p.m. Friday, but Shields and his team were still thinking about the challenging test they had just passed.

“I told my team, ‘We’re playing a mill town tonight,’” Shields told Sankey. “We knew your Bucksport kids were gritty, and tonight proved that. You’re going to win a lot of football games this year.”

Bucksport will try and pick up the next of those wins when it travels to face Foxcroft (2-1) at 7 p.m. Friday. The Ponies are in first place in Class D North after a 61-14 win against Washington Academy on Friday.

“It’s going to get even harder from here,” Sankey said. “The tough teams and the tough battles are going to keep coming, and we have to respond and get better.”

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]