The second season arrives with Week 9 of the high school football schedule — even for some teams that aren’t in the playoffs yet.
Postseason play begins Friday night in all divisions statewide except for the Pine Tree Conference Class A ranks, where Bangor hosts Skowhegan in its regular-season finale with a trip to the playoffs at stake.
“These kids play for these kinds of do-or-die situation,” said Bangor coach Mark Hackett. “We’ve been telling them that they’re all playoff games and now they get it.”
SKOWHEGAN Indians (5-3) at Bangor Rams (6-2), 7 p.m. Friday, Cameron Stadium: Bangor will finish either second or third in the PTC A with a win and out of the playoffs with a loss, replaced by a Skowhegan team that has been the surprise of the conference this fall.
Bangor, coming off a 39-20 loss at Messalonskee of Oakland last weekend, will face a double-wing offense for the second straight week. Skowhegan mixes the double-wing and power-I formations utilizing two of the conference’s top 10 rushers in Adam Dusty (137 carries, 1,062 yards, 16 TDs) and Tyler Savage (125-680-7).
“They use a lot of double-wing concepts,” said Hackett. “They all play shoe to shoe, and the quarterback pitches the ball back and then leads through.
“Our kids believe in what we’re trying to do to stop it. We’ve had two weeks of practice against it but we have to improve against it.”
Bangor’s offense is led by the league’s sixth-leading ground gainer in junior Cody Chapman (102-833, PTC A-leading 18 rushing TDs). The Rams hope to welcome classmate Zeb Tuell (85-436-8) back to the lineup on offense after he missed last week’s game due to injury.
HAMPDEN Academy Broncos (5-3) at Brewer Witches (6-2), 7 p.m. Friday, Doyle Field: These teams meet for the second straight week, but this PTC Class B quarterfinal will be on the natural grass of Doyle Field after Hampden outscored the Witches 35-28 on the Broncos’ artificial turf last Friday.
This marks Brewer’s first home playoff game since the Witches won the 2005 Class B state title, and represents another step in the school’s football renaissance after spending the last four years as a struggling Class A entity.
Both teams have high-scoring offenses. Brewer’s “pistol” spread formation features quarterback Chris Miller, running backs Brody Valley and Dillon Smith, wideout Anthony Jackson and tight end Nate Morris.
Hampden counters with a rushing attack averaging 358.8 yards per game led by Nick Stevens (97 carries, 1,117 yards, 14 TDs) and Logan Steward (94-991-11). Steward rushed for 212 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries against Brewer last week, and has 578 rushing yards in the last three weeks.
MOUNT DESERT ISLAND Trojans (5-3) at Mt. Blue Cougars (7-1), 7 p.m. Friday, Kemp Field, Farmington: MDI takes a four-game winning streak into its PTC Class B quarterfinal against Mt. Blue, one of the division’s preseason favorites after reaching the Eastern A semifinals in 2010 before being reclassified to Class B by enrollment.
MDI relies heavily on its rushing offense led by running backs Elias Burne and Jayson Burke.
Mt. Blue, which rallied from an early two-touchdown deficit to defeat MDI 50-26 at Bar Harbor on Sept. 26, runs a spread offense featuring quarterback Jordan Whitney, wideout Cam Sennick and running backs Izaiha Tracy and Eric Berry.
MATTANAWCOOK Academy Lynx (3-5) at Bucksport Golden Bucks (8-0), 7 p.m. Friday, Carmichael Field: This LTC Class C quarterfinal is a rematch of an Oct. 7 game won by the top-ranked Golden Bucks 35-6, also at Bucksport. Quarterback Trysten Pelkey has emerged as a multidimensional playmaker for the eighth-ranked Lynx, with 830 yards rushing and 932 passing yards, but Bucksport counters with senior quarterback Mike Cummings (1,039 combined passing and rushing yards), the running back tandem of Shawn Smith and Chris Powell and a physical defense that has limited opponents to 7.6 points per game.
MAINE CENTRAL INSTITUTE Huskies (4-4) vs. Orono Red Riots (7-1), at UMaine, noon Saturday: Much time has passed since the opening week of the season, when No. 2 Orono jumped out to a 51-0 lead before coasting to a 57-32 victory over the seventh-seeded Huskies at Pittsfield. But little has changed about the Orono offense, which has averaged 52.9 points per game and been held to fewer than 38 points just once this fall. The Red Riots feature the LTC’s top two ground gainers in senior Dominic Mowrer (122-1,214, 18 TDs) and his sophomore brother Christian Mowrer (90-861, 14 TDs).
STEARNS Minutemen (4-4) at John Bapst Crusaders (6-2), 7 p.m. Friday, Winkin Complex, Bangor: While these teams have not met yet this season, this is a rematch of the 2010 LTC championship game won by Stearns of Millinocket. The sixth-ranked Minutemen are a vastly different team this fall after graduating 16 of its 29 players, but coach Chris Preble’s club has bounced back nicely with three wins in its last four games. No. 3 John Bapst is the conference’s top passing team behind quarterback Deven Romain (91 of 180, 1,327 yards, 18 TDs, 6 INTs), but the Crusaders will be trying to bounce back from a loss at Orono last weekend.
FOXCROFT Academy Ponies (5-3) at Mount View Mustangs (6-2), 1 p.m. Saturday, Larrabee Field, Knox: These teams have not met since 2007, Mount View’s first year as a varsity program. The fourth-ranked Mustangs have emerged this fall behind the 14 seniors on their roster to surpass the victory total of the program’s four previous seasons combined, including a five-game winning streak it brings into its postseason debut. No. 5 Foxcroft got off to a 4-0 start this fall before dropping consecutive games to the LTC’s top three seeds, but bounced back last weekend with a shutout victory at Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln.