The Mount Desert Island defense wraps up Ellsworth/Sumner’s Andy Herrick during a high school football game Oct. 15 in Bar Harbor. 2021 marked the first-ever meetings in countable games between Ellsworth/Sumner and MDI, which had been in different classification levels since Ellsworth/Sumner began varsity play in 2021. BARRY GUTRADT PHOTO

THE YEAR IN PICTURES: Eagles, Trojans meet in historic football matchups

BAR HARBOR — High school football returned to Maine in 2021 — and for two Hancock County high schools, that paved the way for a historic opportunity.

Ellsworth High School and Mount Desert Island High School have long had one of Maine’s fiercest sporting rivalries. Yet in the 53 years since the consolidation of MDI High School created that rivalry, the two schools had never met on the football field.

MDI’s Brendan Graves runs with the football during a high school football playoff game against Ellsworth/Sumner on Oct. 22 in Bar Harbor. MDI defeated Ellsworth/Sumner 52-14 in the regular season finale and won a playoff rematch 56-0 the following week. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

Ellsworth, which went five and a half decades without a football team, returned to the gridiron for varsity play in 2012 as part of a cooperative partnership with Sumner Memorial High School. With MDI in Class C and Ellsworth/Sumner playing in Class D and then moving to eight-man football, though, the two teams only met in preseason play between 2013 and 2018.

Yet with MDI joining Ellsworth/Sumner at the eight-man level this year, the stars finally aligned for the two teams to meet in competitive games on the gridiron. The Trojans and Eagles would meet twice, first in the Oct. 15 regular season finale and again the following week in eight-man’s Large-School North playoffs.

MDI dominated the first matchup as it led 46-0 after just the first quarter en route to a 52-14 win in the historic matchup. The Trojans got the best of a young Ellsworth/Sumner team once again the following week as they prevailed 56-0 to advance to the Large-School North semifinals.

Both Ellsworth/Sumner and MDI are likely to return to eight-man football next year. Barring further classification changes, the two would renew the rivalry with a showdown at Ellsworth High School.

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