Two teams with vastly different offensive philosophies — and both leading their respective divisions — will clash in a key Week 7 high school football crossover matchup Friday night on Mount Desert Island.
The defending Class C North champion MDI Trojans, 5-1 so far this fall and ranked first in that division’s Heal pointing ratings, will host current Class C South top seed Leavitt of Turner Center, undefeated at 6-0.
MDI’s homecoming game will mark the first meeting between the two schools since 2004, but little has changed since then in how each team pursues points.
Leavitt was just beginning to operate out of the spread formation when it last met MDI, while the Trojans long have featured the run-oriented and clock-gobbling T-formation under veteran coach Mark Shields.
“When we played them in 2003 they ran wishbone and spread, and I think the next year they went totally to the spread,” Shields recalled. “That was nearly 15 years ago so I don’t recall everything they did, but they like to spread you out and have the halfback run and the quarterback run, run jet sweeps and then throw the ball.
“They’re good at what they do because that’s what they do.”
The same may be said about MDI’s offense, more traditional in its run orientation but no less successful — the Trojans have averaged 43.8 points during its current five-game winning streak.
Senior halfback Colby Lee has led the way, a combination of speed and strength who has consistently produced big plays for MDI.
“The biggest difference with him this year is he committed himself to the weight room and got stronger,” said Shields. “He’s breaking a lot of tackles that would have brought him down in prior years. Now he’s hard to bring down, and he’s a fast dude.”
Classmate Billy Kerley and junior fullback Elijah Joyce also have been key contributors behind senior quarterback Andrew Phelps, a fourth-year starter who has expanded his game this fall.
“One of the big keys for us this year is that our quarterback is running more and he’s throwing the ball well,” said Shields.
The Trojans recently added to its backfield depth with the return to the lineup of senior fullback Croix Albee, a standout a year ago who missed the 2016 state final due to a knee injury and then sat out MDI’s first five games this fall with and Achilles-ankle injury before returning to action against Waterville last week.
“He had nine or 10 carries and got some hard yards,” said Shields. “He ran the ball well and he said he feels good.”
Lawrence (4-2) at Skowhegan (3-3), 7 p.m. Friday: This long-standing Pine Tree Conference rivalry features two teams seeking to claim one of the two first-round byes in Class B North. Lawrence of Fairfield currently sits atop the division with pointworthy games remaining against Skowhegan and 4-2 Messalonskee of Oakland, and a win in either game may earn the Bulldogs a week off at the end of the regular season. Lawrence’s pass defense will be tested by a Skowhegan offense that has passed for at least 430 yards in three of its last four outings.
Brewer (2-4) at Hampden Academy (0-6), 7 p.m. Friday: This annual Class B matchup lacks some of the luster of recent editions, with a very young Hampden program in rebuilding mode. Brewer simply would like to get back on the winning track after three straight losses, including a last-second setback against Cony of Augusta two weeks ago and a three-point road loss last Friday at Messalonskee of Oakland, a team undefeated against Class B North competition.
Foxcroft Academy (5-1) vs. Maine Central Institute (3-3), 7 p.m. Friday at Pittsfield: Foxcroft Academy brings a five-game winning streak into this clash of teams that switched classes from a year ago, with the Ponies shifting from Class C to Class D and MCI moving up to Class C after winning the 2016 Class D state title. Foxcroft’s top weapons include senior quarterback Nick Clawson and junior wideout Hyatt Smith. MCI, which rebounded from losses to Cape Elizabeth and Mount Desert Island with a 47-8 win at Old Town last week, features the rugged play of senior Adam Bertrand. This is the BDN Sports Game of the Week, with live streaming available at www.bangordailynews.com.
Dexter (3-3) at Hermon (4-2), 7 p.m. Friday: This crossover game matches two teams on track for playoff berths but perhaps with opposite levels of momentum. Class C Hermon has been on the upswing, most recently following up an narrow 35-33 loss to perennial power Winslow with a solid win over Belfast. Class D Dexter got off to a 3-1 start but has dropped back-to-back games to Bucksport and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln and yielded 110 points in those two contests.
Oceanside (4-2) at Winslow (5-1), 1 p.m. Saturday: Two of the top four teams in Class C North collide at Gerry Poulin Memorial Field. Oceanside is averaging 40 points per game during its current three-game winning streak, with Michael Norton Jr. leading the Mariners’ playmakers. Winslow is battling MDI for first place in the division and has won four straight since a Week 2 loss to current Class B North points leader Lawrence of Fairfield. The Black Raiders’ Ryan Fredette ranks among the top rushers in the division.