High school football rivalries between neighboring schools have taken their hits over the years with changing enrollments and the biennial reclassification teams.
Foxcroft Academy and Dexter share a strong rivalry in most sports but have not met on the gridiron since 2012. But with Foxcroft rejoining Dexter in Class D North this fall the teams will meet for the 62nd time since 1951 on Friday night at Oakes Field in Dover-Foxcroft.
The matchup serves as the first BDN/SportsNet Maine Game of the Week of the 2017 season, with live streaming of the contest at www.bangordailynews.com/gameoftheweek set to begin with the pregame show at 6:50 p.m.
Foxcroft holds a 39-20-2 advantage in the series and has won the last 23 meetings since Dexter’s 32-6 victory over the Ponies in 1988. That year, Dexter won the second of three straight Class C regional titles and the fourth of five in six years — including Class D state championships in 1984 and 1985 and a Class C gold ball in 1987.
Foxcroft has been the dominant team between the two since then, capturing four Class C state championships and nine regional titles over the last 21 years.
Dexter has not captured a regional crown since 1989, though the resurgent Tigers did reach the Class D North championship game last fall where it bowed to Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield.
One other element to the rivalry is that Andrew Shorey, now the head coach at Dexter after sharing those duties last fall with current assistant Brian Salsbury, is the son of Foxcroft Academy head of school Arnold Shorey.
This year Dexter is Dexter-Piscataquis, with the program adding players from Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford under the Maine Principals’ Association revised cooperative team policy.
Dexter-Piscataquis Tigers (1-0) at Foxcroft Academy Ponies (0-1), 7 p.m. Friday: Dexter-Piscataquis graduated several key skill-position performers from last fall’s 8-3 squad, but leading returners include senior Tyler Beem and junior David Kirshkaln. The Tigers opened their season with a 28-13 win over Ellsworth-Sumner while Foxcroft dropped a 49-28 decision to Madison-Carrabec in a battle of teams that earned Class C playoff berths last year. Senior quarterback Nick Clawson paced the Ponies offensively, passing for 158 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 98 yards and two scores. Hyatt Smith had seven pass receptions for 112 yards and two TDs.
Brewer Witches (1-0) at Westbrook Blue Blazes (0-1), 7 p.m. Friday: Brewer faces its first road test after outlasting Lawrence of Fairfield 21-19 in Week 1 behind strong line play and 330 rushing yards and three touchdowns from senior running back Bryant Kiley. The reigning Class B North finalists head south for the first of its two crossover games this fall to face Westbrook, coached by Bangor High School grad Jeff Guerette. The Blue Blazes, 6-3 and a Class B South quarterfinalist last fall, got off to a rocky start this season with a 43-0 loss at Biddeford.
John Bapst Crusaders (0-1) at Hermon Hawks (1-0), 7 p.m. Friday: This looms as a competitive battle of teams looking to move up the Class C North ladder. Hermon, now coached by former John Bapst athletic standout Kyle Gallant, won its season opener for the second straight year as it outscored Old Town 59-34. John Bapst also had a solid Week 1 effort before being edged by Class D North hopeful Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln 14-12.
Bucksport Golden Bucks (0-1) at Mattanawcook Academy Lynx (1-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Lincoln: Two upper-tier LTC teams will vie for early position in the Class D North standings in a mutual conference opener. Mattanawacook plays its first home game after edging John Bapst, while Bucksport found its long Week 1 road trip problematic in a 36-13 loss at 2016 Class D South champion Lisbon-Saint Dominic.
Nokomis Warriors (1-0) at MCI Huskies (0-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Pittsfield: Nokomis of Newport, 0-16 in Class B over the previous two seasons, will shoot for a second straight victory to open its 2017 campaign in Class C under first-year head coach Jake Rogers when faces neighboring Maine Central Institute in a Class C North tussle. MCI, the 2016 Class D state title holder and three-time reigning Class D North winner, had its long regular-season winning streak halted a week ago in a 28-14 loss at Oceanside in Rockland.