The 2009 high school football season opens around the state tonight, but Saturday’s schedule offers a unique doubleheader in Bangor.
At 1 p.m., Bangor hosts defending Eastern Maine Class A champion Skowhegan at Cameron Stadium in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the NFL exhibition game between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers held on the same field on Sept. 5, 1959.
Then at 7 p.m. at Husson University, defending Class C state champion John Bapst will play Bucksport in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Maine final.
The game is Bucksport’s home contest but was moved to Bangor because Carmichael Field won’t be ready until later this month after a resodding project over the summer.
Skowhegan Indians vs. Bangor Rams, Saturday, 1 p.m., Cameron Stadium: This game features two of the preseason favorites to contend for the Eastern A crown.
Skowhegan suffered heavy graduation losses from its championship team but does return quarterback Jordan McGowan and some quality receivers. That means coach Mike Marston’s run-oriented double-wing offense may produce a few more passing plays than in recent years.
“This game will be a great benchmark for us,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett. “Most people would like to play the team that represented your end of the state to start out with. If they thump us, we’ll know we have a long ways to go. If we beat them, we’ll still know where we’ve got to go, but we’ll also know where we’re at right now.”
Bangor may field the most experienced team in the conference after suffering through a 3-6 season last fall. Junior Joe Seccareccia has a season at quarterback under his belt, while Lonnie Hackett is also back after rushing for more than 1,000 yards a year ago.
Skowhegan defeated Bangor 44-20 last fall, but Fitzpatrick Trophy finalist Billy Clark and fullback Cody Vigue, who combined for 378 rushing yards and six TDs in the game for the Indians, have both graduated.
“We played them last year and they took it to us, so we have a little revenge to go play them again,” said Lonnie Hackett. “If we can put a ‘W’ up against Skowhegan, it’s going to set a good path for the rest of the way.”
John Bapst Crusaders vs. Bucksport Golden Bucks, Saturday, 7 p.m., Husson University: These teams played two epic encounters last season, with Bucksport winning 40-39 in overtime to open the season at Bangor, and John Bapst earning a 21-14 victory in the EM final at Bucksport.
John Bapst has a new quarterback in converted wideout Shane Hass and returns several other playmakers led by tailback Bill Wetherbee as well as an experienced line.
Bucksport remains a formidable rushing team with the likes of Vince Tymoczko and Billy Alvarado working behind fullback Alex Giosia.
One issue that may play a factor is that while John Bapst was able to play an exhibition game against Stearns of Millinocket last weekend, Bucksport’s preseason matchup against Mount Desert Island was washed out after just a few plays, leaving Joel Sankey’s Golden Bucks a little less tested against outside competition heading into its season opener.
“Bucksport as a community and as a football program has hung its hat on toughness, and I can’t imagine they’ll be vastly different,” said John Bapst coach Dan O’Connell. “I’m sure they’ll be physical and come right at us.”
Brewer Witches vs. Lawrence Bulldogs, Friday, 7 p.m., Keyes Field, Fairfield: Brewer begins its second season of running the double-wing offense under coach Don Farnham and will need to establish ball control to keep possession away from a typically potent Lawrence attack led by senior tailback Christian Powers.
Brewer has a new quarterback in senior Brandon Briggs as well as several capable running backs behind one of the bigger lines in recent Witches’ history.
Lawrence isn’t quite as experienced this fall, but Powers is a breakaway threat behind a line that features senior Tyler McKeen.
Hampden Academy Broncos vs. Leavitt Hornets, Friday, 7 p.m., Turner: Two teams expected to contend for the Eastern B title meet in a season opener.
Hampden is led by senior fullback-linebacker Mike Jenkins, who anchors the Broncos on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Coach Harry McCluskey’s club has a number of other playmakers, including new starting quarterback Jon Haws and running back Nolan Turner.
Leavitt has a veteran cast back from last year’s 8-2 team that includes three third-year starters along the line of scrimmage and a veteran quarterback in Eric Theiss.
Foxcroft Academy Ponies vs. Mattanawcook Academy Lynx, Friday, 7 p.m., Curry Field, Lincoln: MA ended Foxcroft’s seven-year, 39-game home winning streak in last year’s season opener, and the Ponies would like to return the favor in this matchup of Class C contenders.
Foxcroft has a new coach in Danny White but the Ponies’ attack will look familiar, with quarterback Ryan Stroud working with halfbacks Ian Champeon and Chase Hutchinson along with wideout Josiah Richard.
Mattanawcook is in its second season of utilizing a shotgun formation, and Josh Pelkey is back to run that offense for coach Dave Hainer’s club. Defensive end Greg Hand is a strong defensive force for the Lynx.