MILLINOCKET, Maine —Two years ago, the Stearns High School Minutemen nipped the Foxcroft Academy Ponies 14-13 in their LTC semifinal game.
They will meet in another important game on Friday night in Millinocket, this time as a pair of regular-season unbeatens.
That is one of several intriguing matchups as week four unfolds.
Foxcroft Academy Ponies (3-0) at Stearns High School Minutemen (3-0), 7 p.m., at Millinocket: This will be the first serious test for both teams. Stearns has outscored its three opponents 127-47 while Foxcroft has handled its opponents by a combined score of 197-8. They have one common opponent: Stearns beat Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield 42-20 while Foxcroft triumphed 72-0.
Stearns running back Jordan Morrow is coming off a three-touchdown game against rival Mattanawcook Academy and has rushed for 386 yards on 52 carries (7.4 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. Stearns has three other backs averaging at least 7.4 yards per carry. Mark Lyons has passed for 140 yards with a 9-for-23 completion rate. Foxcroft quarterback Hunter Law has amassed 298 total yards as he has run for 158 yards on nine carries and has thrown for 140 yards, completing nine of 14 passes. Ryan Rebar has caught eight balls for 115 yards. Don Boyer (130 yards/20 carries) and Alex Stevens (120/11) are a formidable one-two punch in the backfield. Foxcroft’s ability to contain Morrow will be a decisive element.
Bangor (1-2) at Cony (2-1) in Augusta, 7 p.m. Friday: Even though the season is still young, this is a must game for both teams because only four teams qualify for the playoffs. Bangor has already faced and lost to unbeaten front-runners Brunswick and Lawrence, while Cony still has to play both of them. Cony’s only loss has been to the other 3-0 team in the Pine Tree Conference’s Class A ranks, Messalonskee of Oakland, 21-19.
“It looks like it’s going to be a 50-40 game,” quipped Bangor coach Mark Hackett. The Rams are still fighting the injury bug as leading rusher Cody Chapman (26 carries, 292 yards) remains sidelined and quarterback Carl Farnham still has a cast on his hand making it difficult to take snaps. Veteran running back Zeb Tuell will return after missing last week’s 30-14 triumph over Edward Little. Hackett was impressed with senior quarterback Sam Stanhope’s play and leadership in his first varsity start, saying he did a “great job.”
Bangor backup running backs Logan Lanham and Jake Lavoie combined for 273 yards and three TDs vs. EL. But Bangor will be facing the conference’s top passer in Ben Lucas (47-for-90, 10 TDs, four interceptions) and Chandler Shostak (14 catches, 205 yards, four TDs) leads a balanced receiving corps. Six different receivers have caught at least six balls. Hackett is hoping his Rams can control the football and keep Lucas off the field. If not, they will have to pressure the talented signal-caller.
Hermon (2-1) at John Bapst (3-0), Cameron Stadium, 7 p.m. Friday: The Hawks have won two in a row after a season-opening 20-6 loss to Dexter. John Bapst has yet to allow a point, outscoring its opponents 122-0. The Hawks will have to find a way to neutralize John Bapst QB Austin Spencer, who has completed 22 of 41 passes for 405 yards and four TDs. His favorite receivers have been Andrew Catlin (9-203) and Jacob Moore (7-114).
John Bapst coach Danny O’Connell has no intention of taking the Hawks lightly, especially after his team led just 7-0 at the half of last weekend’s 40-0 win over winless Washington Academy of East Machias. “Hermon is much-improved. They have an infusion of veteran coaches and young guys [on their staff]. They’re definitely well-coached. They have some playmakers and they’re 100 percent more confident, and it shows in how they play. We’ve got to play four quarters. You can’t go through the motions for a half. We need to play hard every play.”
David Shepardson is Hermon’s top playmaker as he has rushed for 542 yards on 61 carries and has scored seven touchdowns. Cody Reynolds has racked up 173 yards on 34 carries. Brad DeCesere is John Bapst’s leading rusher (21-136, 6 TDs). Senior middle linebacker Nick Jordan has headlined the defense for John Bapst.
Belfast (1-2) at Hampden Academy (2-1), 7 p.m. Friday: Belfast’s record is misleading because its two losses have come at the hands of unbeatens Gardiner (27-6) and Leavitt of Turner (36-0). The Lions are coming off a 45-7 victory over Nokomis of Newport. Hampden has rebounded from a season-opening loss to Leavitt (27-17) to nab wins over Nokomis (48-14) and Old Town (51-6).
“At times, [Belfast] played Gardiner and Leavitt pretty tough and they played well last weekend. This could be a tough game,” said HA coach Harry McCluskey. “We’re going to be able to loosen them up a little bit because they’ll put eight or nine in the box on defense,” said McCluskey. That means Brian Fickett and Matt Martin will need to throw the ball successfully to complement the running of Logan Steward and Ben Cambridge.
Carl Dodge, Greg Clark and Devin Richards rushed for a combined 281 yards in the win over Nokomis last week and Zach Collier completed three of eight passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns.