For the first time in three seasons, the Winslow-Waterville Battle of the Bridge counts for more than bragging rights. The Black Raiders (7-0) and the Purple Panthers (6-1) are playing for the top seed in the Eastern Class C playoffs.

The last time Winslow and Waterville played in the same league was from 2005 to 2010. The rivals met eight times over that span, including two playoff games. Winslow held a 6-2 advantage in those games.

They didn’t play each other in 2011, but the rivalry returned last season as a preseason exhibition game, with Waterville taking a 64-14 win.

Waterville leads the series, 50-29 with four ties.

• • •

Maine Central Institute is going to the Little Ten Conference playoffs, but its chances at a bye out of the first round could come down to a coin flip.

MCI (6-1) is in third place, behind the league’s two unbeaten teams, Bucksport and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln. If MCI beats Dexter on Friday, and Mattanawcook loses at Bucksport, both MCI and Mattanawcook are 7-1. That’s when the tiebreakers fall to the luck of a coin.

If necessary, the coin flip will be at Orono High School on Saturday morning, MCI head coach Tom Bertrand said.

“It’s not something that we want, and it’s not something Mattanawcook wants,” Bertrand said.
The Huskies and Lynx did not play each other this season. With 10 teams in the LTC, every team played an eight game schedule, missing one conference opponent.

According to the Maine Principals’ Association football bulletin, the tiebreakers are, in order, head to head competition, Heal points, division record within the conference, overall record, and finally, a coin flip.

Head to head doesn’t work, and because MCI and Mattanawcook played the exact same schedule. Heal points, division record, and overall record are also a wash.

Not only would a bye week, in which a team can rest up, be at stake with a coin flip, but the loser of the flip would have to go on the road for a potential semifinal game.

“If it happens, we want it done as soon as possible,” Bertrand said. “One of us is going to be getting ready for a playoff game that week, and one of us will have that bye.”

• • •

Playoff seeds are at stake in a couple of Pine Tree Conference Class B games this week.

Messalonskee (4-3) can clinch the third seed with a win over Lawrence (2-5). The Eagles played the toughest regular-season schedule in the league, playing each of the other five teams in the playoff contention, as well as a crossover game against Western powerhouse Marshwood (6-1).

The winner of the Friday’s game between Mt. Blue (4-3) and Skowhegan (4-3) can do no worse than the four seed. Hampden (4-3) may lose out on a home game in the first round no matter what happens in its game against Brewer (1-6). The Broncos played the easiest regular-season schedule in the league, including games against winless opponents Gorham and Gardiner.

• • •

Fans attending the Winslow-Waterville game Saturday are asked to bring a new toy for the Maine Children’s Home Christmas Program. The Christmas Program distributes boxes of gifts and clothing to more than 1,600 financially disadvantaged children throughout the state.

Popular new toys include Lego sets, dolls, family board games, Fisher Price toys, makeup sets and superhero action figures.

Toys will be accepted at each entrance at Drummond Field. For a list of needed toys, please visit www.mainechildrenshome.org/christmas-program-needs-list-php.

• • •

Around the state: There are Battles of the Bridge all across the state this weekend. Along with Winslow-Waterville, there’s South Portland at Portland, Lewiston at Edward Little, and Biddeford at Thornton … While there have been a lot of blowout games this season, parity won out in the first year of the four division format. Twenty-seven of the state’s 76 high school football teams, 35.5 percent, enter the final week of the regular season within one game of a .500 record… After forfeiting a Week 6 game at Winthrop/Monmouth because of a lack of healthy players, Sacopee Valley was back on the field for Week 7. The Hawks lost at Old Orchard Beach, 41-6.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com