The seventh week of Maine’s schoolboy football season offers a few intriguing matchups that have playoff positioning implications. A few teams are even in position to nail down home playoff berths with two weeks left in the regular season.
John Bapst (4-2 ) at Mattanawcook Academy ( 3-3), 7 p.m., Alumni Field, Lincoln: The Crusaders of Bangor hit a speed bump on the road to four straight wins against Winthrop last week as they were shut out in their homecoming game. Given how important this game is in the LTC Class C playoff picture (MA is fourth with 108 Crabtree points and Bapst is fifth with 105), don’t be surprised if the Crusaders throw a few surprises at the Lynx, who dropped a hard-fought game to defending East champ Foxcroft Academy by only six points last week.
One of those surprises could be at quarterback, where Charlie Merritt took over for Kyle Gallant in the preseason with Gallant switching to wingback and tailback. Gallant could see significant time as the signal-caller Friday just to give the Crusaders a new look or wrinkle on offense. Tailback Nick Smith was held to 65 yards on 27 carries last week after averaging more than 180 yards in each of his previous three games, but don’t expect that to lessen his carries tonight.
The Lynx are again one of the LTC’s top rushing teams, averaging 303.8 yards per game as the fourth-best running attack. John Bapst is third with 322.6 per game. Defensively, MA ranks No. 2 in the league after giving up just 155.8 yards per game. Bapst is fourth at 209.6.
Brady Vose leads the multi-pronged MA running attack with 416 yards on 71 carries.
Mount Desert Island (4-2) at Belfast (2-4), 7 p.m.: A battle between two programs going in opposite directions, and not used to going in the directions they’re headed at this time of the year.
The Lions, a traditional Eastern Class B power, find themselves at the bottom of the Pine Tree Conference north division standings while the visiting Trojans are in playoff contention.
The Lions are averaging 318.2 yards rushing and 48.3 passing per game while the Trojans are netting 256 on the ground and 84.5 in the air. Belfast is giving up 252.7 yards per game while MDI is allowing 227.5.
Rockland (4-2) at Maine Central Institute (1-5), 7 p.m., Pittsfield: This game shapes up as a mismatch on paper with the visiting Tigers – tied for second in the LTC with Bucksport – averaging 391.6 total yards per game: 252.7 on the ground and a league-best 138.5 in the air. They’re giving up 293.6 yards per game defensively.
Tailback Mike Marsh (617 yards, six touchdowns) returns after missing two games with an injury. Senior quarterback Andrew Weiss has 488 yards and six TD’s rushing. He has also completed 39 of 98 passes for 802 yards and six TD’s. Wingback-wide receiver Josh Elwell has 15 catches for 330 yards and three TD’s and has rushed for 86 yards and two scores.
Senior tailback Victor Quint is the offensive focal point for the Huskies.
Orono (2-4) at Bucksport (4-2), 7 p.m., Carmichael Field:
Another game that doesn’t look too competitive on paper does have the potential to be a surprise as the visiting Red Riots are averaging 217.1 total yards per game and the Golden Bucks are at 241.7.
Defense is where things change markedly, however as the Bucks are limiting teams to 186.2 yards a game while Orono is yielding 348.3. A particular discrepancy comes in the running game as Orono has given up 1,722 rushing yards to Bucksport’s 849 total.
Orono’s individual standouts include converted quarterback Jared Bussell, now the team’s top running back with 438 yards and four TD’s. Junior halfback and current LTC player of the week Colin Bates is coming off a performance in which he ran for 208 of his 255 total yards and two TD’s on 12 carries. Bucksport is led by sophomore backs Chris Maguire (517 yards, seven TD’s) and Nate Warren (342 yards, four TD’s).
Brewer (3-3) at Winslow (5-1), 1 p.m. Saturday, Poulin Field: The Witches started off slow this season, but have won two of their last three games and find themselves in second place – behind the Black Raiders – in the PTC Class B north division.
This rematch of the 2005 Eastern Maine Class B title game won by Brewer is a statistical mismatch as the Raiders have rushed for nearly double the yards Brewer has amassed so far, 1,886 yards to 963, and gained 673 yards passing to Brewer’s 260.
Meanwhile, Winslow is giving up an average of 168.3 rushing yards and 84.5 passing yards per game. Brewer is yielding 215.5 on the ground and 50.8 in the air.
Stearns (0-6) at Foxcroft Academy (6-0), 7 p.m., Oakes Field, Dover-Foxcroft: Two teams going in the opposite direction normally wouldn’t merit a mention among the top games of the week, but this game between two historic LTC powers does feature the league’s best running backs in Stearns’ Gene Kim, who leads the LTC with 1,157 yards on 170 carries. The senior tailback has 10 touchdowns and is No. 2 in scoring with 72 points. FA’s Brad Bellemare is No. 1 in scoring with 89 points. He also has 595 yards and 10 TD’s rushing, 18 PAT kicks, and two special teams touchdowns.