A couple of times this week, the Waterville Senior High football team practiced on the artificial turf at Colby College, the same surface they’ll play on when they face Hampden Academy tonight in the Pine Tree Conference Class B quarterfinals.
Waterville and Hampden could play on artificial turf or on a mud-soaked field. No matter the conditions, Waterville coach Frank Knight knows his sixth-seeded Purple Panthers (4-4) have their hands full against the No. 3 Broncos (7-1).
“They’ve got a really good program. They’ve got a good, strong running attack,” Knight said.
Also in the PTC B, top-seed Mt. Blue (8-0) hosts No. 8 Mt. Desert Island. In the Campbell Conference Class C, No. 1 Winslow (7-1) hosts No. 8 Yarmouth (2-6).
Aside from undefeated Mt. Blue, the Broncos are the hottest team in the league. Hampden enters the playoffs riding a seven-game win streak. Aside from a 19-13 win at Gardiner, Hampden has scored at least 42 points in every game of its win streak.
The Broncos are led by senior running back Logan Steward. One of the top backs in the conference, Steward is fast and strong and tough to take down. Quarterback Matt Martin is a threat to pass or run.
“They do a variety of formations,” Knight said. “They do a lot of things we’re going to have to be prepared for.”
Waterville defensive line, led by senior co-captain Tom Cox, will need to play well, Knight said.
“They get off the ball pretty well, so we have to be making sure our guys are staying low and not standing up and looking for the football,” Knight said. “If they do, we’re going to be in trouble. They’ll be driving us off the ball. Our front guys have to make piles so our linebackers can make tackles.”
Waterville’s offense is led by backs David Bailey, Racean Wood and Derek Lachance.
Winslow looks at Yarmouth, and sees a team much better than its 2-6 record. The two-time defending Class C state champion Clippers played the toughest schedule in the Campbell Conference this season. Yarmouth’s opponents were a combined 42-22.
“They have some guys who can give us trouble,” Winslow coach Mike Siviski said.
One of those players in quarterback Brady Neujahr. A three-year starter, Neujahr can throw or run, and Winslow defensive coordinator Jim Poulin called him the best quarterback in the league. In last week’s must-win game at Freeport, Neujahr led the Clippers on a pair of scoring drives in the fourth quarter. Neujahr threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Rhys Nason with six seconds left in the game.
Winslow’s offense is led by a trio of running backs, Joe Hopkins, Zack Guptill and Dylan Haprworth. In the last three games, Hopkins ran for 537 yards and eight touchdowns.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242