It’s Week 3 of the high school football schedule.
The newness of the season has started to wear off as the aches and pains begin to accumulate, yet the stretch drive toward the playoffs is still a few weeks away.
“This is our third playoff game,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett of his team’s Pine Tree Conference Class A game at Edward Little of Auburn on Friday night. “At least it seems that way this year. It seems like the playoffs are at the beginning of the year this year.”
BANGOR Rams (1-1) vs. Edward Little Red Eddies (1-1), 7 p.m. Friday, Walton Field, Auburn: Hackett’s sentiments are shared by other PTC Class A coaches this year because just four teams will advance to the playoffs, down from eight last year. The division has been reduced from 12 teams to 10 with Mt. Blue of Farmington and Brewer reclassified to Class B by enrollment.
A loss by either Bangor or EL will leave that team not only with a 1-2 record just one-third of the way through the season, but with little margin for future error.
Bangor is coming off a 32-25 loss to Lawrence of Fairfield last Saturday night, a game in which the Rams more than doubled their total yardage from their season-opening 21-20 win at Brunswick but couldn’t contain Bulldogs’ star Shaun Carroll Jr., who rushed for 229 yards and four touchdowns.
“We lost, but we got better and I liked our resolve,” said Hackett.
Edward Little, which fell to Lawrence 26-18 in Week 1, rebounded last Friday with a 33-11 win over Cony of Augusta.
“They played Lawrence the week before we did and gave them all they wanted,” said Hackett.
EL running back Darnell Hairston rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns against Cony, while quarterback Josh Delong passed for one touchdown and rushed for another. Quin Leary is a top receiving threat for coach Dave Sterling’s club.
“Their quarterback is the same kid they had last year,” said Hackett. “He runs the ball hard, he’s pretty physical, and he can throw to some guys who can go up and get it,” said Hackett. “And (Hairston) is bigger and stronger than Carroll, but he’s not as elusive.”
OLD TOWN Coyotes (0-2) vs. Hampden Academy Broncos (1-1), 7 p.m, Friday, Weatherbee Complex, Hampden: Hampden rebounded from a season-opening loss at defending Eastern B champion Leavitt of Turner Center with a 53-14 win over Nokomis of Newport.
Junior quarterback Brian Fickett completed 10 of 17 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns, while Ryan Faircloth rushed for 144 yards on six carries and Matt Haws added 88 yards on seven rushes. Ben Cambridge scored three touchdowns for the Broncos while Logan Steward scored twice.
Matt Martin led Hampden’s defense with nine tackles, while Sage Rapp had seven stops.
“I felt good about how we played in the first two quarters,” said McCluskey. “We came out and played well, so overall I was pleased with our performance.”
Hampden’s defense will get a different test from Old Town’s double-wing offense, which has churned out 84 points despite losses to Madison/Carrabec and Brewer. Danny Rivers, a senior wingback, has rushed for more than 200 yards in each of the Coyotes’ first two games, while classmate Cameron Archer has been effective at quarterback.
“They run that offense well,” said McCluskey. “They never punt, so they only need three yards on every play and they’ve been getting that. We don’t see that offense in our league, so it takes time to adjust.”
Old Town will need to shore up a defense that has allowed 96 points in two games.
ORONO Red Riots (2-0) vs. Bucksport Golden Bucks (2-0), 7 p.m. Friday, Carmichael Field, Bucksport: These teams will get their first test of the season against each other after two weeks of lopsided victories.
Bucksport has outscored Washington Academy of East Machias and Calais/Woodland by a combined 111-18, while Orono has outscored Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln 109-38 — and in their 57-32 win at MCI, the Red Riots held a 51-0 lead.
Bucksport’s offense has been led by running backs Chris Powell and Shawn Smith, each with five touchdowns in two games, while end Jordan Fogg and linebacker Mike Bishop were defensive leaders in the Golden Bucks’ 54-6 win over Calais/Woodland last weekend.
Orono’s attack has been led by brothers Dominic Mowrer, Christian Mowrer and Cameron Mowrer, who have combined for 10 touchdowns two games.
Both teams feature a veteran quarterback in Bucksport’s Mike Cummings and Orono’s Bryce Mehnert.
BREWER Witches (1-1) vs. Camden Hills Windjammers (0-2), 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Palmer Field, Rockport: Brewer will try to build on momentum gained from its 44-36 victory over Old Town, a win that ended a 14-game losing streak dating back to the 2009 season.
Coach Don Farnham’s Witches showed offensive balance in that game, led by junior quarterback Chris Miller (148 passing yards, two touchdowns), junior running back Dillon Smith (106 rushing yards, three TDs) and senior wideout Anthony Jackson, who ran 51 yards for a touchdown with a direct snap on the first play from scrimmage.
Camden Hills is seeking its first win after suffering a 35-7 loss at Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor last Friday.