DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The Foxcroft Academy football team arrived in Orono during Week 5 of the 2011 high school season undefeated and poised to ruin the Red Riots’ homecoming.
By the time the Ponies boarded the bus for the ride home, they were left to deal with a 58-14 loss — Orono’s first victory over Foxcroft since the 1990s. Foxcroft went on to drop four of its final six games while Orono advanced to the LTC championship game.
Now Foxcroft enters its Week 5 game this season against Orono again undefeated — only this time it’s the Ponies who are celebrating their homecoming against the similarly unbeaten Red Riots.
“We were 4-0 when we played them last year and they went out and had almost 600 yards against us,” said Foxcroft coach Danny White. “We’ve got to be able to move the football against Orono, but defensively we have to prove to ourselves how good we are.
“We think we have a pretty good defense, but we’ll be tested against them.”
Orono Red Riots (4-0) vs. Foxcroft Academy Ponies (4-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Oakes Field, Dover-Foxcroft: Foxcroft boasts some of the gaudiest statistics in the state, having outscored its first four foes by a combined 240-8 and shut out its last three opponents, including a 42-0 victory at previously unbeaten Stearns of Millinocket last weekend.
Orono also has been impressive through the first half of its schedule, highlighted by a 38-14 win over Bucksport in a Week 3 rematch of the 2011 LTC final before the Red Riots fended off an improving Dexter squad 50-44 last Friday night.
Coach Bob Sinclair’s club boasts a blend of speed and power in its three-pronged running attack that features Norton Revell and brothers Christian and Cameron Mowrer. That trio already has combined for 1,449 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground this fall, with Revell leading the way with 610 yards and 10 TDs.
“They run what they run very well, and their quickness offensively adds to the explosiveness of their backfield,” said White. “They put pressure on the defense to have to do a lot of things right.”
Foxcroft’s defense has yielded less than 50 yards of total offense per game, while the Ponies offense includes running back Don Boyer (274 rushing yards, 7 TDs), quarterback Hunter Law (425 combined rushing and passing yards, 10 total TDs) and wideout Ryan Rebar, who leads the LTC with 13 pass receptions, five for touchdowns.
John Bapst Crusaders (4-0) at Bucksport Golden Bucks (3-1), 7 p.m. Friday, Carmichael Field: Part 2 of the midseason sorting-out process atop the LTC standings offers plenty of potential for fireworks on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Each team has a first-year starter at quarterback who has gotten off to an impressive start this fall. Bucksport sophomore Matthew Stewart has completed 34 of 49 passes for 361 yards with six touchdowns and one interception while John Bapst junior Austin Spencer has hit 30 of 62 passes for 565 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Spencer also has rushed for 216 yards.
John Bapst’s defense, which has yielded just two touchdowns this season, features senior lineman Kurt Massey and junior linebacker Nick Jordan. Junior Nic Bishop, one of the LTC’s top tacklers, anchors the Bucksport defense.
“They play physical, they’ve got some playmakers, and they’ve got a young quarterback who’s very heady and makes good decisions,” said John Bapst coach Dan O’Connell of Bucksport. “So defensively we’re going to have to play our assignments sound and offensively we’re going to have to be able to run the ball against their tough front and mix it up with some big plays.
“Every year you look forward to playing Bucksport, and this year it’s no different.”
Mount Ararat Eagles (0-4) at Bangor Rams (1-3), 7 p.m. Friday, Cameron Stadium: With losses already this season to Brunswick, Lawrence of Fairfield and Cony of Augusta — teams with a combined 11-1 record — there’s no more margin for error for a Bangor team beset by injuries to key players during its first four games.
In particular, the Rams will need to shore up a defense that has yielded 35.3 points per game, third most among Pine Tree Conference Class A teams.
Bangor has a chance to begin getting healthy against a winless Mount Ararat team that ranks last in the 10-team conference in both points scored (48) and allowed (164).
Cony Rams (3-1) at Brunswick Dragons (4-0), 7 p.m. Friday, Crimmins Field: This game matches Cony of Augusta’s passing attack against Brunswick and the state’s leading rusher in senior halfback Jared Jensen.
Cony has won three straight since a two-point, season-opening loss at undefeated Messalonskee of Oakland. That run includes the team’s first win over Bangor in more than two decades last weekend, a 49-15 victory highlighted by a 26-of-45 passing performance from junior quarterback Ben Lucas good for 359 yards and three touchdowns.
Jensen increased his four-game rushing total to 1,296 yards last weekend with 332 yards and four touchdowns in Brunswick’s 33-20 win at Edward Little of Auburn. He also had three pass interceptions on defense.
Hampden Academy Broncos (3-1) at Gardiner Tigers (3-1), 7 p.m. Friday, Hoch Field: Hampden quietly has won three straight since a season-opening loss to three-time defending PTC Class B champion Leavitt of Turner Center.
“I thought we played pretty well last week,” said Broncos’ coach Harry McCluskey, whose team outscored Belfast 26-0 in the second half en route to a 42-14 victory over the Lions. “Belfast was a pretty good test because they can be tough, but we’ve got to keep improving because we’ve got a tough schedule ahead.”
That begins with a Gardiner team coming off its first loss, albeit a highly competitive 21-16 defeat at undefeated Mt. Blue of Farmington.
Both teams have benefited from solid quarterback play, Hampden from both Matt Martin and Brian Fickett and Gardiner from Dennis Meehan.
“Their quarterback is probably the best we’ve seen on film,” said McCluskey, whose team is seeking its first victory over the Tigers. “He can hurt you with his arm and he can run, too, and he also kicks field goals, kicks off, punts and plays defensive back.”
Hampden’s use of both Martin and Fickett at quarterback is representative of depth in several areas that has served the Broncos well.
“We’ve been a pretty physical team in all our games,” said McCluskey. “That’s something we’ve been strong at and we need to continue to play that way. If we can be physical and control the line of scrimmage, we’ll be all right.”
Brewer Witches (2-2) vs. Nokomis Warriors (1-3), 2 p.m. Saturday at Newport: This is an important contest for both teams as they seek to enhance their playoff credentials. Brewer is one of four teams with a .500 record ranked between fifth and ninth in the PTC Class B after falling at Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor 20-6 last Friday.
Nokomis earned its first win last weekend, with senior quarterback Chandler Foss passing for 172 yards and three touchdowns in the Warriors’ 42-12 victory over Old Town.