Week three of the schoolboy football season offers several intriguing matchups, some of which loom as possible conference championship previews.
Foxcroft (1-1) at Stearns (2-0), Alumni Field, 7 p.m. – A rematch of the 1996 LTC Class C championship game, won by Foxcroft.
Both teams return plenty of players from last season’s title game, won by the Ponies, and both have plenty of motivation for winning. The FA Ponies want to prove last year wasn’t a fluke and the Minutemen want revenge.
“I’m sure they haven’t forgotten last year’s championship game,” said Foxcroft coach Paul Withee.
Both teams are virtually at full strength for the battle between the league’s top offense (Stearns) and defense (Foxcroft). The only question mark is Stearns’ outside linebacker Jared Merry, who has an ankle sprain.
Nothing questionable about FA tight end-defensive end Nate Laita. He missed the first game and played sparingly in the second for disciplinary reasons, but will start.
“He’s really chomping at the bit to get some playing time and we can be a bit more diversified with him back,” said Withee.
That diversification is what worries Stearns’ coach Art Greenlaw.
“I’ll be surprised if there aren’t big plays on both sides of the ball. The key is who can be the most consistent defensively,” he said.
For Foxcroft, the key figures are Laita, running backs Ben P For Foxcroft, the key figures are Laita, running backs Ben Preston, Adam Harvey and Charlie Fearon, and quarterback Brock Hartford.
Stearns counters with an option attack led by quarterback Travis Cummings and running back Corey Streams.
“Their explosiveness scares me. We don’t really have a kid who can break off a 50-plus yard play like those two can,” said Withee.
Hampden Academy (2-0) at Old Town (1-1), Victory Field, 7 p.m. – The visiting Broncos will try to extend their unbeaten streak with another big win over a traditional conference power.
Both teams feature potent rushing attacks with enough talented backs for four teams. Old Town features LTC Class B leading rusher Peter Baker while Hampden has the LTC’s No. 2 back, Ben Preston.
Joining Baker in a loaded backfield is fullback Justin Brown and converted halfback Alger Yanush.
Hampden, the LTC’s top rushing team with 710 yards, is led by Preston plus fullbacks Jordan Marden and Andy Pierce.
Broncos quarterback Matt Gilbert may give them a slight edge in the passing game, although Old Town’s option attack is something Hampden hasgame, although Old Town’s option attack is something Hampden hasn’t seen much of.
Lawrence (1-1) at Bangor (2-0), Cameron Stadium, 7 p.m. – Another rematch, this time of the 1996 Pine Tree Conference championship, which Lawrence won.
Although both teams lost a lot of starters to graduation and Lawrence replaced longtime coach Pete Cooper, the philosophies haven’t changed much. Both teams still love to run.
“They’re very balanced and use the clock up. In our case, we just have to go about our business and take care of what we do best,” said Bangor coach Gabby Price.
What the Rams do best is run, so much so that it’s almost traditional for Bangor to lead the PTC in rushing, which it is this week with 607 yards on the ground.
The Bulldogs are fourth with 430, but are also fourth defensively with 214 allowed. Bangor is third with 199 rushing yards allowed.
Bangor defensive tackle Ryan Hodge is questionable with an ankle sprain.
John Bapst (0-2) at Bucksport (0-2), 7 p.m. – A game between the Nos. 2 and 3 passing offenses in the LTC Class C ranks.
The Golden Bucks may be one of the best 0-2 teams in the LTC after being edged by Class B powerhouse Winslow 20-18 and losing 19-9 to Lisbon, the defending Western Maine Class C champs.
“They’re not disappointed, they’re frustrated because they felt they should have won the last two games,” said Bucks coach Joel Sankey.
Bapst is also frustrated after committing four turnovers in their last two games.
Each team has a couple of injuries. Bapst two-way starter Danny Higgins (ankle sprain) and flanker John Zibilske (strained knee ligaments) are questionable. The Bucks’ are missing Matt Barnard (broken ankle) and T.J. Jellison (knee).