Week 10 of the high school football season is all about the opportunity to qualify for regional championship games, with Pine Tree Conference Class A entering its first weekend of postseason play while the other five divisions statewide play the second week of their second seasons.
No. 3 BRUNSWICK Dragons (7-2) at No. 2 Bangor Rams (7-2), 7 p.m. Friday, Cameron Stadium: Much time has elapsed since these teams met on Sept. 2 at Brunswick, when Bangor edged Brunswick 21-20 — a result that ultimately earned Bangor home-field advantage for this PTC A semifinal.
Brunswick doubled Bangor in total yardage in that season opener but lost six fumbles compared to no giveaways by the Rams. While Bangor can’t expect a similar turnover disparity in the rematch, Bangor coach Mark Hackett does anticipate mistakes playing a role in the outcome.
“It’s going to come down to a fumble or a couple of penalties or a kickoff return or a punt return,” he said. “They’re not going to fumble six times.”
The Dragons controlled the line of scrimmage in their earlier meeting against Bangor, opening holes for running backs Jordan Rysdam, Keith Kitchens and Dylan Walton. Linebacker Sam Bessey leads the Brunswick defense.
“They still look like the most physical team in the league,” said Hackett.
Juniors Zeb Tuell and Cody Chapman have combined for more than 1,500 rushing yards to spark Bangor’s offense. Linebackers Chapman and Ellis Throckmorton have been the leading tacklers for the two-time defending Eastern A champions.
“I’d say we’re the underdog,” said Hackett. “I don’t think we are a lot of times but I think we are in this one.”
The winner will face the survivor of Friday’s semifinal between No. 1 Lawrence of Fairfield (9-0) and No. 4 Messalonskee of Oakland (6-3) in Fairfield. These teams will meet for the second straight week, with Lawrence coming off a 25-16 win over the Eagles at Oakland.
No. 5 HAMPDEN Academy (6-3) at No. 1 Leavitt Hornets (9-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Turner Center: Hampden faces a daunting challenge against the two-time defending PTC B champs, as Leavitt has a 31-game winning streak against conference foes.
But the Broncos are enjoying new life after scoring the winning touchdown as time expired in their 22-21 quarterfinal win at Brewer.
“Last week was a real character builder for the kids to come back like that,” said Hampden coach Harry McCluskey. “Something like that stays with a team for quite a while.”
Hampden is likely to be without one of its two 1,000-yard ground gainers, Nick Stevens, for the second straight week due to a shoulder injury. That leaves Logan Steward, who surpassed 1,000 yards last week, to lead the offense along with quarterback Brian Fickett (50-96 passing, 668 yards, 7 TDs).
Leavitt is averaging nearly 47 points per game behind senior quarterback Jordan Hersom and running backs Jake Ouellette and Ian Durgin.
Only twice has Leavitt scored fewer than 30 points — once when the Hornets defeated Hampden Academy 27-6 on Sept. 2.
“We played with greater intensity in the last quarter of the Brewer game than we’ve played with in quite a while,” said McCluskey. “Hopefully we can play with that same emotion against Leavitt.”
The winner plays the survivor of Friday’s semifinal between No. 3 Gardiner (7-2) and No. 2 Mt. Blue (8-1) at Farmington. Mt. Blue defeated Gardiner 43-26 at Farmington during the regular season.
No. 5 FOXCROFT Academy Ponies (6-3) at No. 1 Bucksport Golden Bucks (9-0), 7 p.m. Friday, Carmichael Field, Bucksport: Two programs with much history between them square off again with a berth in the LTC Class C final on the line.
Bucksport, which allowed a league-low 6.8 points per game during the regular season, outlasted Foxcroft 22-8 in Week 7. Foxcroft led 8-0 early and allowed Bucksport just one offensive touchdown, but a punt return by Josh Gray and an interception return by Mike Cummings, both for touchdowns, proved pivotal.
Bucksport is led by Cummings, a senior quarterback who has rushed and passed for more than 500 yards, and senior running back Shawn Smith, who has rushed for more than 700 yards, including 141 yards in the earlier meeting at Foxcroft.
Foxcroft features halfback Donnie Boyer (104 carries, 793 yards), wideout-cornerback Ryan Rebar, the league leader in interceptions, and quarterback Chris Shorey (35 of 72, 725 yards, 10 TDs).
No 3 JOHN BAPST Crusaders (7-2) at No. 1 Orono Red Riots (8-1), 7 p.m. Friday, Alfond Stadium, University of Maine: These teams are meeting for the second time in three weeks on the artificial turf.
Orono, which set an LTC record by averaging 52.9 points per game during the regular season, pulled away in the second half of their Week 8 meeting against John Bapst for a 46-21 victory thanks to a strong pass rush and brothers Dominic, Christian and Cameron Mowrer, who combined for 360 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Dominic Mowrer leads the LTC with more than 1,200 yards, while Christian Mowrer needs just 22 yards to join the 1,000-yard club.
John Bapst, seeking to advance to the LTC final for the fifth consecutive year, counters Orono’s ground game with a passing attack led by quarterback Deven Romain, who has completed 107 of 201 passes for 1,530 yards and 20 touchdowns.