Bucksport quarterback Chase Carmichael drops back to pass during the first half of a high school football playoff game against Maine Central Institute on Nov. 4 in Pittsfield. The Golden Bucks lost the game 41-8. PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

Bucksport football season ends with loss to MCI

PITTSFIELD — A sea of yellow helmets in mid-air dissipated as soon as it came together.

There was no waiting for the Bucksport football team this time. No more than 30 seconds after players and coaches left the handshake line after a loss to Maine Central Institute, the team huddled near its bench. It wasn’t clear who was talking, but whatever had been said was barely audible as the players raised their helmets to symbolize togetherness.

Before anyone even had time to take it in, that scene was gone. The huddle broke, and some players broke down on the field. Others went to hug their parents or sauntered toward the bench to gather their equipment. It was a somber scene that showed stark contrast for a Bucksport team that spent all of October celebrating hard-earned wins.

Bucksport’s 2016 season and streak came to an end Friday when the Golden Bucks lost to MCI 41-8 in a Class D North semifinal game. It was the team’s first loss since falling to Orono on Sept. 23 and brought about an abrupt end to a year in which Bucksport had gone from a 1-3 start to a playoff birth.

“That’s the way it goes, I guess,” Bucksport head coach Joel Sankey said. “MCI executed well, and it was hard to get going against their defense.”

Top-seeded MCI (10-0) stopped No. 4 seed Bucksport’s offense after a botched snap on an attempted punt gave the Golden Bucks the ball in the red zone, and the Huskies scored on the following possession on a 42-yard touchdown run by Josh Buker with 2:22 left in the first quarter. MCI took a 21-0 lead into halftime after touchdown runs by Eli Bussell and Adam Bertrand in the second quarter.

Buker added two more touchdowns on a 10-yard run and 56-yard punt. Pedro Matos would add the Huskies’ final touchdown with just under a minute left in the third quarter. Bucksport (6-4) scored its only touchdown of the game on a 57-yard touchdown pass from Chase Carmichael to Matt Vincent with 8:25 left.

In one instance, the team’s disappointment got the best of it. A miniature brawl broke with a little over five minutes remaining, and Bucksport was given two personal foul penalties. It was an unfortunate incident in a game that was relatively free from them.

“It’s really too bad what happened with that,” Sankey said. “Guys got emotional, and it got out of hand a bit. That’s not who we are. We know that, and MCI knows that.”

Vincent took the loss the hardest. He’d played every game of his high school career in honor of his mother, who died two years ago. This was the senior’s last chance, and although he did score in her honor one last time, the realization his time with the Golden Bucks was over hit him hard. As other players and fans filed out, he put his face in his father’s shoulders and cried.

Sophomore Carter Tolmasoff took a seat on the bench on the bench and wrapped his body in a green blanket. He didn’t play at all in the second half after suffering an injury in the first, and it was easy to tell by looking at the small part of his face that was visible that not being out there with his teammates was eating away at him inside.

Although Bucksport was far from the first team to experience disappointment against MCI — the Huskies have beaten every opponent this season by 10 points or more — that was little consolation to the Golden Bucks. They trailed MCI 41-0 at halftime on Sept. 9, which was arguably the lowest point in their season. This attempt didn’t go much better.

The Golden Bucks, though, will be back. Carmichael and Tolmasoff will return for the 2017 season, as will Keigan Riccard, Tyson Gray, Cam Ashey, Luke Wardwell and Damian Lindsay. Bucksport was much more experienced this season than it was in 2015, and it’s possible a similar comparison could ring true next August.

“What these young men did and the things they overcame, that shows strength and dedication,” Sankey said. “You can lose a football game, but those things don’t leave you.”

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]

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