Before we look at some of the big games on the high school football schedule this season, let’s tip our caps to a pair of games we won’t see. Scheduling an eight-game season in Class B, with nine teams in the East and 11 teams in the West, led to some quirks. For instance, longtime rivals Lawrence and Skowhegan will not play each other, although their fields are approximately 16 miles apart. Mt. Blue and Cony, two team considered to be among the best in Class B, won’t play each other either, unless it’s in the playoffs.
That’s OK. There are plenty of games with big game potential on the schedule. Here’s a few ways to spend a Friday night in central Maine this fall, with a few Saturdays thrown in, too.
* Friday: Cony at Messalonskee
Cony and Messalonskee each made the Pine Tree Conference Class A playoffs last season, and both are contenders again this year. With quarterback Ben Lucas, who could throw the ball 40 times each game, Cony will have one of the top passing games in the state. Messalonskee will be in a new defensive front, a 4-4. With so many teams on the Eagles’ schedule running spread offenses, new Messalonskee coach Brad Bishop feels the 4-4 is the defense that will slow the passing teams down.
* Saturday: Belfast at Winslow
Not too long ago, Belfast and Winslow were the juggernauts of Eastern Class B. Between 1992 and 2006, these teams combined to win 12 regional titles. It won’t take long for this rivalry to make a comeback.
* Sept. 13: Lawrence at Mt. Blue
This is the game many fans wanted to see last season, as each team was rolling through an undefeated regular season. A year later, the Bulldogs and Cougars are rivals in the same league again, and despite heavy graduation losses by both teams, this is a matchup between two state championship contenders.
* Sept. 20: Dirigo at Winthrop
This game will be an early test for the new Winthrop/Monmouth cooperative team. If the Ramblers are going to contend in Western Class D, Dirigo is one of the teams they’ll need to get past.
* Sept. 27: Lawrence at Cony
This is a rematch of last season’s PTC Class A championship game. Honestly, we could pick a PTC B game every single week. This is just another is what should be a season-long slobberknocker festival in this league. Enjoy it, PTC B fans, because a league this deep can’t last forever.
* Oct. 4: Waterville at Foxcroft
The Purple Panthers and the Ponies have been preseason opponents in recent years. Now, they get to play each other when it counts. Foxcroft is the defending Class C state champion. With 16 seniors, Waterville is one of the most experienced teams in the Big Ten, and will be a contender for the conference title.
* Oct. 11: Westbrook at Lawrence
Each week in the season, there will be a crossover game between teams from Eastern and Western Class B. This could be one of the better crossover games. Both Lawrence and Westbrook are contenders in their respective leagues.
* Oct. 18: Skowhegan at Gardiner
Six teams will advance to the PTC B playoffs. When Skowhegan plays at Gardiner late in the season, the game could essentially be a playoff game, with the winner in and the loser eliminated.
* Oct. 19: Foxcroft at Winslow
Maybe when Class B was playing crossover games in the 1990s and early 2000s, there was a regular season rematch of a state championship game. State championship opponents becoming conference rivals the very next season, that’s a new one. The Ponies and Black Raiders play at Poulin Field in the next to last week of the regular season, and the top spot in the Big Ten playoffs could be on the line.
* Oct. 25: Mt. Blue at Skowhegan, Gardiner at Cony
It’s rivalry week, and for a few teams in central Maine, that means renewing games with longtime foes. Cony and Gardiner have played an exhibition game each season since Gardiner dropped to Class B in 2005, but now they’ll meet in the regular season again. Mt. Blue and Skowhegan’s rivalry was put on hold when the Cougars joined Class B in 2011.
* Oct. 26: Winslow at Waterville
The Battle of the Bridge is another game that was relegated to exhibition status in recent years. This already feels like 2005 and 2006, when the Panthers and Black Raiders met in the regular-season finale, and held a playoff rematch a couple of weeks later.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242