MHS Football. New coach. New field. New season.
New coach. New field. New season.
For the Messalonskee football team, the 2019 campaign is filled with hope and promise after a winless fall a year ago.
The Eagles open the season Friday night on the road against the Falmouth/Greely Cooperative Team at Falmouth High School. Game time is 6:30.
Walter Polky, who replaces Brad Bishop, is a proven winner as a player and a coach. In high school, he captained a Winthrop team that won the state championship in 2000.
Polky went on to play two years at Southern Connecticut State College before transferring and ultimately graduating from the University of Maine. After obtaining his master’s degree from Husson College, Polky coached in the college ranks for six years, four as an assistant at Husson and two as an assistant at Bates College.
For family reasons, he left the college sidelines to coach at the high school level, first at Spruce Mountain and most recently at Maranacook Community High School. He exceled at both schools, earning Class C Coach of the Year honors at Spruce Mountain in 2014 and leading Maranacook from a winless 2016 season to the 2017 Class E state title game in his first year.
Polky is not promising an appearance in the state championship game for the Eagles in his first season at Messalonskee, but he is encouraged by the strong turnout – currently at about 50 players – at a school that has struggled to fill out its roster in recent years.
“They teams I have been lucky I played on or coached that have been really, really good all had depth,” Polky said. “Depth is such a key component, being able to rotate players, and having your 2’s as good as your 1’s is a huge advantage, so that’s why I try to play as many kids as I can to get that experience.”
Another huge boost for the Eagles this fall is being able to play at the Messalonskee campus on the school’s new synthetic turf field, a key part of the recent $2.9 million athletic complex upgrade.
A year ago, Messalonskee played its entire home schedule on the road, most of the games at Colby College.
“When we played Friday night against Waterville [in a preseason game on the new field], the atmosphere was unbelievable,” Polky said. “The turf is awesome. The fans are awesome. The whole set up is an atmosphere you want to play ball in – you want to coach in.”
Polky is delighted by a strong turnout of both freshmen and sophomores. At the same time, he said the Eagles have the luxury of 12 seniors to provide the experience and leadership that should help the youth.
He pointed to quarterback Deklan Thurston, fullback/strong safety Josh Goff, right tackle/nose guard Garrett McKenna, guard/defensive tackle Brandon Veilleux, and left tackle Sal Caccamo as key players for the Eagles.