The Gardiner football team is in the Pine Tree Conference Class B playoffs, but where it will end up is still uncertain.
The Tigers (5-3) are fourth in Crabtree points, which determine playoff positioning, and will host Leavitt (6-1) on Friday night.
A victory would lock up a top-four seed and at least one home playoff game. A loss and Gardiner could slip to fifth, depending on the outcomes of other games. Eight teams qualify for the postseason.
“The ball is squarely in our court,” Gardiner coach Matt Burgess said. “We’ll be in the playoffs, but where we land is up to us. We’ll need a perfect game to beat (Leavitt). We could use a home win, too.”
Gardiner is just 1-2 at Hoch Field this year. Its lone victory came Sept. 7 against Morse.
“It’s been a few weeks,” Burgess said.
The Tigers blanked Madison 41-0 last Friday for their first shutout of the season. The defense, led by inside linebacker Seth Wing and defensive back Dennis Meehan, is one of the toughest in the conference. Gardiner is allowing 11.1 points a game, second only to Leavitt (9.4).
“Pitching that shutout was important,” Burgess said. “We wanted to play a really good defensive game, and we did. Our defensive line is working really hard and we’re getting good performances from (Hunter) Belanger, (Frank) Chepke and (Steve) Sirois.”
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Cony learned a few things Friday in a 27-6 loss to Lawrence that snapped a five-game winning streak.
“We found out how good their secondary is,” Cony coach Robby Vachon said. “Anthony Sementelli is a great corner and (Spencer) Carey, they speak for themselves.”
The Rams (5-2), who can clinch a PTC A playoff berth with a win against Lewiston (1-6) on Friday night at Alumni Field, also learned their defense can hold up against a formidable offense. Lawrence (7-0) is averaging 44.4 points a game, tops in all of Class A.
“We tackled very well,” Vachon said. “We’re very happy with how our defense played. We just couldn’t execute on offense, but this is because of how well Lawrence played.”
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Another week, another heart-breaker for Kents Hill.
The Huskies dropped to 0-4 with a 19-14 setback to Dexter on Saturday in Brookline, Mass. It marked the second time in three weeks Kents Hill lost in the final two minutes of the game.
Quarterback Justin Smith threw a 99-yard touchdown pass with two minutes left to erase a 14-13 deficit and give Dexter (2-2) the victory.
“Awful,” Kents Hill coach Steve Gritti said. “It’s the worst. But what can we do? We just have to keep trying.”
The game came on the heels of a 13-10 loss to Hyde-Bath on Sept. 29. Kents Hill was driving for a potential game-winning touchdown but it fumbled on the Hyde 1-yard line with about a minute left.
“We’ve been in all these games but have found a way not to win,” Gritti said. “We have to find a way to win. We’re standing around watching other teams celebrate. If we want to be the ones celebrating, we have to limit penalties and turnovers. They’re killing us.”
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Winthrop (2-5) suffered a tough 52-30 loss to Freeport on Saturday that all but knocked it out of Western C Campbell Conference playoff contention.
The Ramblers close out the regular season by hosting playoff-bound Old Orchard Beach (5-2).
Winthrop coach Joel Stoneton said he’s still holding out hope a victory over OOB, coupled with some help, could still get his team in the postseason, but acknowledges it’s a longshot at best.
“We have two lonely wins,” he said. “It could come down to strength of schedule, I don’t know. We’ll go out and try to beat OOB and if we come out on top, we’ll wake up Sunday and see where we are.”
The Ramblers have tried to evolve their spread offense, particularly in the latter half of the season. Stoneton said they were able to air out the Falcons (4-3), but it just wasn’t enough.
“We’ve been trying to get the spread going for the last six, seven weeks,” he said. “It was difficult for Freeport to defend. We fought back but came up short.”
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The Gardiner football team, in conjunction with the school’s National Honor Society and other organizations, is hosting an “Empty Bowls” fundraiser Friday night at Hoch Field.
For $7, fans can purchase a variety of soups in a ceramic bowl made by Gardiner students. The money will benefit the school’s Thanksgiving food basket charity.
“The art department made the bowls and they were decorated by the field hockey team and a lot of others,” Burgess said. “The National Honor Society puts the baskets together and delivers them to people in greater Gardiner.”
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Around the state: Fryeburg (3-4) and Spruce Mountain (3-4) are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in Class B West. They’ll play each other Saturday in Fryeburg in what amounts to a playoff game . . . Orono (6-1) and John Bapst (6-1) will play for first place in the Little Ten Conference when they play at the University of Maine on Thursday night. The loser likely enters the playoffs as the third seed, behind No. 2 Foxcroft . . . Yarmouth (1-6) will be the only participant in the 2011 state championship games to not reach the playoffs this season. The Clippers won back-to-back state titles in 2010 and 2011, and entered the season on a 24-game win streak.
Staff writer Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this report.
Bill Stewart — 621-5640