Week six of the high school football season brings with it a few intriguing matchups that could go a long way toward determining the playoff hierarchy in all three classes.
Lewiston (5-0) at Bangor (2-3), Cameron Stadium, 7 p.m. — This is the fourth week in the last five that Bangor’s Rams will play an unbeaten team, and head coach Mark Hackett would like nothing better than seeing his Rams go .500 in this stretch.
Despite being dismantled last week by Skowhegan and having the unenviable task of facing an undefeated squad, this is a must-win for Bangor, a notion that Hackett doesn’t dispute.
“I think, right now, with three games left, they’re all must-wins. We’re in fifth place and we need to win down the stretch,” he said. “It’s been a tough week. We know we’re a pretty good team and we’re certainly a lot better than 2-3, but we have to prove it.”
The Rams may get two-way starting guard Anthony Sullivan back after he twisted an ankle two weeks ago, but his status is still questionable.
What’s not questionable is how big a factor Blue Devils running back Wes Myers will be. The all-purpose back is headed for a second straight 1,000-yard rushing season.
“I thought he was the best back in the league last year and he’s even better this year,” Hackett said. “In the last two games, he’s gotten the ball 70 times. We have to contain him because he can turn anything into a touchdown.”
Although he has no Myers, Hackett sees a lot of similarities between the two teams.
“They throw the ball well and they’re good on defense, so it’s a typical Lewiston team. They’re very much like us,” he said. “I think kicking is going to be a real big factor in this game. It looks like they like to go for two points a lot.”
Foxcroft Academy (3-2) at Stearns (3-2), Alumni Field, Millinocket, 7 p.m. — It wasn’t too long ago that the Ponies and Minutemen were the class of the LTC annually. The only question was which team would represent the East in a state title game.
The Ponies are still in that class, but Stearns has been down in recent years. Foxcroft is on a hot streak after a slow start while Stearns won its first three before suffering setbacks the last two weeks. This game could determine which team takes part in the playoffs and which team watches from the sidelines.
The Minutemen feature athleticism and speed while the Ponies, who have used that combination to win three straight Eastern Maine Class C crowns, rely more on size and power.
“They’re very aggressive and fire out front quickly,” said FA head coach Paul Withee. “We want to play a lot of iron-man football and hopefully wear them down. We also need to get out ahead early.”
The Minutemen feature a three-headed backfield monster utilizing Charlie Osborne, Cory Barnett and Billy Eurich.
Withee went back to the drawing board and reinvented his Ponies a bit after a 36-point loss to Bucksport in week three.
“There was a little shift in things we do after the Bucksport game,” Withee said. “We’ve run a lot of misdirection and counters taking advantage of our speed and quickness, but I didn’t think we were doing a good job with that with our linemen up front.”
“We moved Ian [Champeon] to fullback and Ryan Stroud to quarterback,” he explained. “That allows us to throw more, plus we’re a lot more multifaceted and we still have five guys running the ball.”
The Ponies should get a boost from the return of starting tackles Dan Moriarty and Andrew Larson, who have been out for the last two weeks.
Cony (0-5) at Brewer (2-3), Doyle Field, 7 p.m. — With Brewer currently ranked 10th among 12 teams in the Pine Tree Conference, the Witches must basically win out the rest of the way to have a shot at a playoff spot.
Brewer’s Bill Bissell is the ninth-leading rusher in the PTC with 484 yards on 72 carries (6.7 yards per carry).
Conversely, the Rams of Augusta have two of the top seven defensive players in the PTC in Greg O’Neill and Chris Robinson. O’Neill is third in tackles with 62 and also has two sacks. Robinson has 50 tackles and three interceptions.
O’Neill is also the No. 5 receiver with 31 catches for 190 yards while Nick Lucas is the PTC’s No. 3 passer with 444 yards on 55-for-111 passing.
Winslow (4-1) at Gardiner (5-0), Hoch Field, 7 p.m. — It’s a battle for home-field advantage in the playoffs as both teams are primed for postseason berths.
Hampden Academy (2-3) at Waterville (3-2), Drummond Field, 1 p.m. Saturday — Now that the regular season is headed into the home stretch, this is a must-win for both teams if they are to solidify their holds on playoff berths.