MAINE CENTRAL INSTITUTE at LEAVITT
Time, site: 7 p.m. Friday, at Turner Center
Records (2017): MCI 8-4, Leavitt 8-2
Game notes: MCI, the lone team from the North to win a state championship last November, faces an immediate test in this crossover matchup against Leavitt, a perennial South power. The Hornets were the No. 1 seed in the Class C South standings before being upset 7-6 in the regional semifinals by fourth-ranked Gardiner. MCI, which won the Class D championship in 2016 and claimed the Class C title last fall, looks to get off to a better start than in 2017 when it rebounded from a 2-3 start by winning seven of its final eight games to win the gold ball.
BIDDEFORD at BREWER
Time, site: 7 p.m. Friday, Doyle Field, Brewer
Records (2017): Biddeford 5-4, Brewer 5-5
Game notes: Biddeford, one of the state’s tradition-laden programs, visits a Brewer team that has made serious playoff runs each of the last three years. The Witches made Class B North title-game appearances in 2015 and 2016 and a regional semifinal appearance last fall. Biddeford fell to Greely of Cumberland Center 7-0 in last year’s Class B South quarterfinals. With several talented skill-position players back, the Tigers are considered a solid contender behind defending state champion Marshwood of South Berwick and Kennebunk. Brewer displayed a solid running attack and productive short passing game in its exhibition win over Bangor last week, with quarterback Brandon Glidden and halfback Andrew Kiley leading the way.
BANGOR at EDWARD LITTLE
Time, site: 7 p.m. Friday, Walton Field, Auburn
Records (2017): Bangor 0-8, Edward Little 7-2
Game notes: This marks the start of the Dave Morris era on the gridiron for Bangor as the veteran coach, who has had state-championship success with the school’s baseball team, tries to rebuild a Rams’ football team that hasn’t won since defeating Edward Little in the 2015 Class A North quarterfinals. Bangor has endured back-to-back 0-8 campaigns. EL was the division’s top seed last fall before being upended by No. 4 Windham in the semifinals, but coach Dave Sterling’s club graduated a big senior class, including standout quarterback Grant Hartley.
WINSLOW at NOKOMIS
Time, site: 1 p.m. Saturday, at Newport
Records (2017): Winslow 8-2, Nokomis 6-3
Game notes: This marks the opener of a challenging schedule for a Nokomis team fresh off its first winning season and first playoff appearance, a 33-24 Class C North quarterfinal loss to eventual state champion MCI. The Warriors compiled their 2017 record against teams with a combined 33-42 record. This year seven of their eight foes earned postseason berths a year ago and six posted winning records. Winslow came within one point of knocking off MCI in last year’s semifinals. The Black Raiders are hungry having not reached a state final since making four straight trips to the Class C title game between 2012 and 2015.
HERMON at JOHN BAPST
Time, site: 2 p.m. Saturday, Husson University, Bangor
Records (2017): Hermon 6-3, John Bapst 3-6
Game notes: Hermon begins its bid to follow up last year’s breakthrough season in Class C North against a local rival. The Hawks return a veteran cast to face a more youthful John Bapst team that also qualified for postseason play last year. John Bapst, which had three losses by a combined 13 points in 2017, has only five seniors but many of its younger players saw considerable action last year. Hermon is led by senior quarterback Garrett Trask, the reigning All-Big 11 first-team quarterback and defensive back.