Shire Chris Caswell (left) tries to shake off a tackle by Stearns' Caden Raymond during Friday night's football contest. Houlton won 44-20. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

Week 6 of the high school football season means different things to different classes.

For the 25 schools competing in 8-player football, it’s crunch time, with just one additional  weekend of regular-season play remaining before the playoffs begin on Oct. 22-23.

For Classes B and C, there’s two more weeks of the regular season still to come after Saturday’s play, while Classes A and B have three weekends of play after this to complete their nine-game regular seasons.

Mattanawcook Academy Lynx (3-1) at Houlton (3-0), 7 p.m. Friday: Perhaps the biggest game in the 8-player ranks likely will impact which team will finish first in the final North division standings next weekend.

Top-seeded Mattanawcook has won three straight since an opening-day loss at Morse of Bath, including an impressive 50-36 win over Waterville last weekend that sent the Purple Panthers to their first loss.

No. 2 Houlton returned from a lengthy hiatus due to COVID-19 cases at the school to defeat Stearns-Schenck 44-20 last weekend.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” Houlton coach Jon Solomon said of the Mattanawcook matchup. “Their line is very aggressive, probably the best offensive and defensive lines we’ll see this year with the way they fire off the ball and create holes for Isaac Hainer to run through.”

Hainer, a junior quarterback, is one of several skill-position players who have helped MA average 50 points in its four games. He teams with junior Cody Smith and freshman Emmett Fitch at running back and senior tight end Jackson Sutherland to pace the offense.

Houlton has similar offensive depth, with senior Chris Caswell the leading rusher but senior wide receivers Caleb Solomon and Troy Hipsley also figuring into the running game behind freshman quarterback Isaiah Irvin.

The Shiretowners averaged 54.6 points per game and amassed 628 total yards, including 467 on the ground, during their 44-20 win over Stearns-Schenck last week.

“I think anybody can beat anybody, and honestly if your athletes can handle the ball and get into wide open spaces, that’s how the game is played,” Bishop said. “You have to outscore people, I think, and turnovers are huge, too, more so than in 11-man football.”

Edward Little Red Eddies (0-5) at Bangor Rams (4-1), 7 p.m. Friday: Bangor will seek to go 2-0 on the new artificial turf at Cameron Stadium before playing two of its final three games on the road against teams that enter Week 6 with a combined 11-4 record (at 3-2 Sanford, vs. 3-2 Bonny Eagle of Standish and at 5-0 Oxford Hills of South Paris). Bangor, ranked third in the Class A Crabtree points, is averaging 40.2 per game while Edward Little is yielding 38.8 points per contest.

Skowhegan Riverhawks (2-3) at Brewer Witches (1-4), 7 p.m. Friday: Two teams coming off impressive victories meet at historic Doyle Field in Class B North play. Brewer, which managed just 32 points in its first four games, broke loose offensively for a 34-7 win at Mt. Blue of Farmington last week. The Witches will have to be at their defensive best against a Skowhegan team that has rebounded from an 0-3 start with a 60-0 win over Falmouth-Greely and a 61-14 victory over Brunswick last week.

Morse Shipbuilders (4-1) at Camden Hills Windjammers (3-1), 7 p.m. Friday: Two of the top 8-player large-school teams meet in a rematch from Week 2 during homecoming weekend in Rockport. The teams previously met at Bath on Sept. 11 after their original opponents had COVID-19 cases, and Morse took a 24-19 halftime lead before Camden Hills rallied behind senior running back Hunter Norton for a 60-42 victory. No. 3 Morse has won three straight since then while No. 2 Camden Hills has split two games, a 74-54 loss at No. 1 Waterville and a 32-8 win at Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor.

Foxcroft Academy Ponies (4-0) at John Bapst Crusaders (0-3), 6 p.m. Saturday: John Bapst’s homecoming contest also will be its debut on the new Cameron Stadium turf, and the Crusaders will face a considerable test against the Class D-leading Ponies. John Bapst has yielded 45.6 points per game in losses to unbeaten Winthrop-Monmouth-Hall-Dale, once-beaten Freeport and twice-beaten Bucksport, and the defense will be tested again by a balanced Foxcroft offense that is scoring 37.7 points per outing behind senior quarterback Austin Seavey.

Other games include Friday: Freeport at Bucksport, Old Town at Belfast, Dexter at Ellsworth-Sumner, Hermon at MCI and Mount View vs. Orono at the University of Maine; Saturday: Medomak Valley at Nokomis, MDI at Waterville, Oceanside at Winslow and Hampden Academy at Westbrook.

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...