Week 7 of the high school football season is headlined by the “Game of the Year” of the Eastern Maine regular-season variety — Bangor at Lawrence of Fairfield — and not even forecasts for a rain-soaked weekend can dampen the enthusiasm for this showdown.
The projected heavy rain may dampen the field, though, and Lawrence athletic director Bill McManus said a decision will be made Friday morning concerning any postponement.
One game originally scheduled for Friday, Mt. Blue of Farmington at Brewer, already has postponed and been rescheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Doyle Field.
These teams have combined to win four of the last six Class A regional titles — Bangor in 2004 and 2009, and Lawrence in 2006 and 2007.
Both teams are are 6-0 this season, with Bangor riding a modest 14-game regular-season winning streak over the last two years, including a 28-21 victory over Lawrence that ended the Rams’ five-year, six-game losing streak to the Bulldogs.
But that’s the only loss coach John Hersom’s club has sufferered in its last 44 regular-season games, a run that dates to 2005 and includes an undefeated run at Keyes Field in Fairfield, where Friday’s showdown will be played.
“I love to play at home,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett, “but if we can’t play at home, I can’t think of a better place to play than at Lawrence. I love the atmosphere and I think it’s great for the kids. The fans are right on the field, if you step back three steps from the sideline you’re right in amongst them. It’s an old-fashioned football town and a great place to play football.”
A similar battle of the unbeatens also is on tap in Western Maine Class A, where Bonny Eagle of Standish visits Cheverus of Portland on Saturday afternoon.
Bangor Rams (6-0) vs. Lawrence Bulldogs (6-0), 7 p.m. Friday, Keyes Field, Fairfield: The winner of this game almost certainly will claim the top seed for the Eastern A playoffs and the homefield advantage that comes with it, and both teams have understood that possibility since the season begain in early September.
“We don’t look by anybody, but we really look forward to this game,” said Hackett. “Actually I like it better now that it’s late in the season. It used to be Week 3 and we lost our share certainly and when we did we could just hope we’d get the chance to see them again. Now that it’s late in the season and both teams are undefeated, and I just think it’s good for the schools and good for the towns.”
Bangor boasts the highest-scoring offense in the Pine Tree Conference Class A ranks, averaging 37.8 points per game. The Rams are led by senior quarterback Joe Seccareccia (695 passing yards, 10 TDs, 2 INTs), who boasts plenty of weapons to work with — though the status of senior tailback Josiah Hartley (585 rushing yards, 11 TDs) is uncertain as he recuperates from head and shoulder injuries suffered during a Week 5 win over Mt. Blue of Farmington.
“I hope he plays Friday, I’m not sure yet but I’m hoping that,” said Hackett at midweek. “We’re hoping it for him as much as anything, but if not we’ll play without him. He’ll be better, if not this week then next week.”
If Hartley can’t go, Bangor has two capable replacements in junior Wyatt Frost (256 rushing yards, three TDs) and sophomore Zeb Tuell (180 rushing yards) to complement Seccareccia (220 rushing yards, six TDs), wideout Nick Sherwood (16 catches, 357 yards) and tight end John Kelley (13 catches, 113 yards).
Lawrence counters with a defense that has yielded just 4.2 points per contest in support of an offense guided by sophomore quarterback Spencer Carey and running back Blair Blaisdell.
Coach John Hersom’s club will be facing its second straight unbeaten opponent, having pulled away from Lewiston 25-6 in a battle of 5-0 teams a week ago. In that contest the run-oriented Bulldogs pulled out its passing game in the second half, with Carey completing all four of his attempts for 96 yards in the third quarter as the Bulldogs scored 18 unanswered points to extend a 7-6 halftime edge.
Defensive end Mark Yandian was a defensive presence for Lawrence with three quarterback sacks in the second half.
“Our kids respect Lawrence, but I think for the first time in a long time I don’t think they have an edge on us for being fired up to play,” said Hackett. “We are excited to play Lawrence. I said before that we’d never be as excited to play Lawrence as they are to play us, but I’m not so sure that it’s evening out a little bit.”
Orono Red Riots (3-3) vs. John Bapst Crusaders (5-1), 7 p.m. Friday, University of Maine, Orono: These teams will take to the turf on Morse Field for a mutual Senior Night battle with playoff ramifications for both sides. A John Bapst victory would set up a Week 8 showdown at currently unbeaten Stearns of Millinocket that could determine the top seed for the LTC playoffs, while Orono is one of four 3-3 teams hoping to secure a home game for the first round of the playoffs.
Orono is led by the top rusher in the LTC in Dominic Mowrer (132 carries, 956 yards, 13 TDs), while John Bapst counters with the conference’s top passer in Jordan Charpentier (59 of 115, 916 yards, 13 TDs, 4 INTs).
Mount Desert Island Trojans (4-2) vs. Camden Hills Windjammers (2-4), 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Palmer Field, Rockport: MDI, winner of three of its last four games, looks to enhance its quest for a home game in the Pine Tree Conference Class B quarterfinals on the road against a Camden Hills team that struggled at Hampden last week without quarterback Collin Downs, who was sidelined with a concussion.
Downs’ return is uncertain, but MDI will welcome back halfback Jason Burke, who sat out the last two games with an injury.
Camden Hills is led by senior tailback Jacob Powers, the leading rusher in the conference with 1,099 yards.
Rockland Tigers (3-3) vs. Calais-Woodland Silverados (4-2), 1 p.m. Saturday, Calais: Speaking of injuries, Calais-Woodland likely will be without its top three running backs in this LTC matchup, including Spencer McCormick (ankle) and Ryan Cavanaugh (knee), the second- and third-leading rushers in the LTC.
Rockland features one of the more balanced offenses in the conference, with Derek Miller (144 carries, 733 yards) leading the ground game and quarterback Sam Meklin (40 of 80 passing, 583 yards) and wideout Dan Hendricks (15 catches, 282 yards) sparking the aerial attack for a Tigers’ squad seeking to rebound from a loss at MCI.
Hampden Academy Broncos (5-1) vs. Waterville Purple Panthers (3-3), 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Drummond Field, Waterville: Hampden seems to be finding its groove at the right time of the season, with the Broncos riding a five-game winning streak heading into this important road test. The Broncos currently are tied with Gardiner for second place in the PTC Class B Crabtree points, and Gardiner still has a Week 8 date against undefeated Leavitt of Turner Center, the defending state champion.
Waterville needs to rebound after losing three of its last four games, including a 28-21 decision last weekend to Mount Desert Island that dropped the Purple Panthers to sixth in the Crabtrees and endangered their bid to host a first-round playoff game in two weeks.