BANGOR, Maine — When the Bangor and Lawrence high school football teams have battled in recent years, much has been at stake.
Typically a regular-season meeting has meant home-field advantage for a potential playoff rematch, while their postseason clashes often earned the winner an Eastern Maine championship and a berth in the state final.
But there will be no more of that, at least for now.
The expansion of the state’s football world from three to four classes earlier this year has separated the two schools, with Bangor remaining in Class A while Lawrence moves to Class B by enrollment.
So when the two rivals meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Husson University, their exhibition clash will have special meaning to both clubs in terms of personal pride but its greatest importance will come instead from serving as a final dress rehearsal before they go their separate ways to begin regular-season play next weekend.
Lawrence is scheduled to open against Gardiner on Sept. 6 at Keyes Field in Fairfield, while Bangor will host Edward Little of Auburn on Sept. 7 at Husson.
Both teams suffered significant losses from their 2012 rosters, with Lawrence graduating 21 seniors from its Eastern Maine Class A championship squad and Bangor also needing to spot new players in key positions.
Still, both are expected to contend for playoff berths in their respective divisions.
The Bangor-Lawrence clash will be one of 38 preseason games around Maine between Friday night and Monday afternoon.
Other games in Eastern Maine include a Class B matchup between local rivals Hampden Academy and Brewer slated for 7 p.m. Friday at Doyle Field in Brewer.
Both teams are coming off playoff appearances a year ago, but the Eastern B field is vastly different this season with Lawrence, Cony of Augusta, Messalonskee of Oakland, Brunswick and Skowhegan all coming down from the former Eastern A to join Hampden, Brewer, defending Class B state champion Mt. Blue of Farmington and Gardiner in the revised division.
This will mark the first of at least two meetings between Brewer and Hampden this fall, with the teams slated to meet again in a mutual regular-season finale on Oct. 25 at Hampden.
Another exhibition contest Friday night involving a Class B team has Oceanside of Rockland-Thomaston, which has moved to Western Maine this season, hosting Gray-New Gloucester in a 7 p.m. start from Wasgatt Field in Rockland.
Ten other preseason games involving Eastern Maine schools this weekend match teams from Class C against teams from the newly formed Class D — last year’s LTC Class C minus defending Class C state champion Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft and Hermon, which both moved up to the new Class C by enrollment.
Foxcroft plays at 7 Friday night at Orono, while Class C Mount Desert Island visits the second-year varsity program from Ellsworth-Sumner, Class C Old Town is at Stearns of Millinocket, and Class D Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln travels to Hermon in other contests slated for 7 p.m. Friday.
Games set for 1 p.m. Saturday have Class D John Bapst of Bangor at Waterville, Class D Bucksport at Winslow, Class C Belfast at Mount View of Thorndike, Class D Washington Academy of East Machias at Camden Hills of Rockport, and Class D Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield at Nokomis of Newport.
One other contest, Class D Dexter at Class C Madison-Carrabec, is set for a 6 p.m. opening kickoff Saturday.
The regular season begins Friday, Sept. 6.