ELLSWORTH — Their uniforms covered in mud, members of the Bucksport football team gathered in the north end zone at Harold “Tug” White Field. The air was cold and wet, but the Golden Bucks couldn’t have been happier.
After most wins, the Bucks are somewhat more reserved. Sure, they’ll celebrate and high-five each other, but that’s about it. This time, though, nearly everybody was shouting and doing chest bumps.
“We brought the hammer!” One player shouted. “Five in a row!”
The team truly has “brought the hammer,” so to speak, for five straight weeks now. With the playoffs in sight, it will now have another opportunity.
Bucksport celebrated a return to the Class D playoffs with a 46-8 win over Ellsworth/Sumner on Saturday. The win marked a perfect record for the Golden Bucks in October, a month in which no team came within 14 points of them.
“We’re more confident than ever,” Bucksport quarterback Chase Carmichael said. “The way we’re playing, it just gets better every week.”
Carmichael gave Bucksport (6-3) the lead on its first offensive play when he found Keigan Riccard wide open for an 81-yard touchdown pass with 9 minutes, 53 seconds left in the first quarter. It was the beginning of a big day for Carmichael, who’s thrown more passes than anyone in the Little Ten Conference this season.
Ellsworth/Sumner (2-7) did take an 8-6 lead after a Connor Crawford touchdown run and 2-point conversion with two minutes left in the quarter, but it was all downhill for the Eagles from there. Luke Wardwell and Carter Tolmasoff both scored rushing touchdowns for Bucksport to give it a 20-8 lead early in the second quarter, and Tolmasoff added another on a 22-yard reception with under a minute left in the half.
“Carter is really fast, and he gets open easier than most guys,” Carmichael said. “He’s able to go up and get to those 50-50 balls, too.”
Two more touchdown runs from Wardwell in the second half gave Bucksport a 40-8 lead, and the Golden Bucks added one final touchdown with 4:01 left when Josh Geagan scored on a 4-yard touchdown run.
Although Bucksport scored five of its seven touchdowns on the ground, its biggest strength came in the passing game. Ellsworth/Sumner spent the week in practice focusing on stopping the Golden Bucks’ aerial attack, but Carmichael passed for 261 yards and completed passes to seven different receivers.
“With freshman corners and such a young team, it was just really hard to stop them,” Ellsworth/Sumner coach Duane Crawford said. “We knew Bucksport was going to pass a lot, but they also executed very well. They rarely made mistakes.”
Mathematically speaking, Bucksport didn’t need the win. Mount View’s loss to Maine Central Institute on Friday meant the Golden Bucks would have made the playoffs even with a loss. Yet the team didn’t rest on those laurels; Bucksport had extra incentive to win for head coach Joel Sankey, who got his 150th career win.
Sankey has never been one to attract attention, but his players weren’t going to let him leave the field without getting some this time. When assistant coach Sean Geagan mentioned the milestone, the Bucksport players gave Sankey a loud round of applause and circled around him while chanting his name.
“Thank you, Coach,” senior Brody Boynton said. “This win is for you.”
Ellsworth/Sumner’s season ended with the loss, but Bucksport’s next game will be on the road against top-seeded MCI (9-0) at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4. The Golden Bucks lost to the Huskies 41-21 earlier this season and will have revenge on their minds.
“This is a completely different team than we were then, and we’ve proved that.” Carmichael said. “That seems like an eternity behind us. It’s a whole new season now.”