One good thing about the high school football season to date from a selfish perspective is that I haven’t felt cold yet on the sidelines or in the press boxes of Eastern Maine.
Temperatures have been reasonable, making the occasional rainy Friday night a little more tolerable.
That is about to change, however, with cold temperatures, the Canadian gift of brisk, chilling winds and at least a spitting of snow set the forecast for this initial weekend of postseason play.
Hopefully the intensity of the playoff matchups will offset Mother Nature’s inevitable descent toward winter. There’s plenty of reason to believe that will be true.
In all three classes of Eastern Maine football there’s no overwhelming, bet-the-house favorite, the product of a regular season that to date has produced an undefeated team in each class but also given several other contenders reason to believe that regular-season dominance may not necessarily lead to postseason glory.
The Pine Tree Conference Class B field appears like it should boil down to a two-team battle between two-time defending league champion and unbeaten Leavitt of Turner Center and Class B newcomer Mt. Blue of Farmington.
Leavitt owns the home-field advantage throughout the regional playoffs, thanks largely to a come-from-behind 22-17 victory over once-beaten and second-seeded Mt. Blue, a team that began the season with high hopes of its own after reaching the 2010 EM semifinals in Class A before being reclassified due to the school’s shrinking enrollment.
Leavitt has won 30 consecutive games against PTC “B” competition, however, and until the Hornets are defeated they must remain the pick to advance to the state championship game come Nov. 19.
Similarly, two teams appear to have separated themselves from the pack in the LTC Class C ranks in undefeated Bucksport and once-beaten Orono. Orono has been an offensive juggernaut this fall save for one Friday night in Bucksport when the Red Riots were able to move the football but mustered just two touchdowns in a 35-14 loss to the Bucks.
The Red Riots have considerable breakaway weaponry in the Brothers Mowrer, senior Dominic and sophomore twins Christian and Cameron, a trio that has combined for 2,488 yards and 39 touchdowns.
But Bucksport looks to be the most physical team in the league and has its own weapons in versatile quarterback Mike Cummings and bruising running back Shawn Smith.
And as the weather deteriorates over the next few weeks, so does the field conditions, and that may be Bucksport’s final edge if the Golden Bucks advance to host the Eastern Maine title game.
One weekend still remains in the PTC “A” ranks, and while unbeaten Lawrence of Fairfield has clinched the top seed, that isn’t necessarily a comfortable spot for the Bulldogs. Lawrence lost its first-round playoff game as a No. 1 seed last year, and this fall the Bulldogs have been banged up physically in recent weeks, resulting in just one offensive touchdown in a Week 6 victory over Lewiston and one TD last Friday night in a 10-7 survival of Brunswick.
Brunswick and Messalonskee of Oakland, which plays Lawrence Friday night, both have reason to like their hopes for a deep playoff run, while Bangor and Skowhegan match up Friday night in a do-or-die contest in which the winner joins the playoff party while the loser will watch the postseason proceedings from the warmth of their homes.
As for myself, I’ll take the cold outdoors for a few more weekends. Let the playoffs begin.