The Maine Central Institute and Winslow football teams face an opponent in the regional finals they beat by at least 20 points in the regular season. Even so, both teams prepared this week by adhering to this old adage: Past performance is not indicative of future results.

“It was a battle for sure. They came out and punched us, and we had a slow start up there. We had to get our feet underneath us, and if we do that again this week we could be in a lot of trouble,” MCI coach Tom Bertrand said.

MCI (10-0), the top seed in the Little Ten Conference, hosts No. 3 Dexter (8-2) on Friday night. The Huskies won at Dexter, 36-2, on Oct. 8. Winslow (9-1), the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Conference, plays at No. 1 Mt. Desert Island (8-1), also Friday. The Black Raiders beat the Trojans, 40-20, on Sept. 17.

With a win, MCI becomes the first team to win the LTC title three straight years since Foxcroft Academy pulled the feat from 2005-2007. A Winslow win sends the Black Raiders to the Class C state championship game for a fifth straight season.

Despite the loss to Winslow in the regular season, MDI earned the top seed in the playoffs with the strength of schedule tiebreaker, used when MDI, Winslow, and Madison each finished the regular season at 7-1.

“I feel like a 40-20 game wasn’t really indicative of the game. It was a lot closer than that,” Winslow coach Mike Siviski said.

In the first game against MDI, the teams traded the lead six times in the first half, before the Black Raiders took the lead for good with a touchdown in the final minute of the first half. Winslow capitalized on four Trojans turnovers, scoring three touchdowns on possessions started by an MDI turnover.

If this game is like the first meeting, expect both Winslow and MDI to keep the ball on the ground and try to control the clock. They combined for 655 yards of offense in the first game, with 602 of that on the ground. Winslow is led by Nate St. Amand, who leads the conference with 1,427 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. Fullback Kenny Rickard ran for 120 yards and three touchdowns against MDI in September, and gained 119 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 41-21 win at Madison.

The Trojans suffered a setback when fullback Croix Albee (600 yards rushing) was lost to injury at midseason, but Colby Lee (868 yards) and Graham Good, a converted tight end, have picked up the ground game slack.

“The last few weeks they’ve really stepped it up offensively. We’ll be challenged. They always play tough on the island, and we’ll have to see what happens,” Siviski said.

Defensive back Chris Farnsworth and defensive lineman Micah Hallett lead the Trojans defense. Winslow’s defense is led by defensive end Ryan Fredette, and linebackers Rickard and Patrick Hopkins.

MCI may have played its best defensive game of the season against Dexter a month ago, holding the Tigers to 91 yards, including just five on the ground. It took the Huskies some time to get going offensively that day. MCI’s first two touchdowns came on punt returns, and the Huskies turned the ball over three times and had a punt blocked.

“They’ve gotten a lot better, and they’re hungry. We know it’s going to be another battle down here Friday night. We’d better eliminate some mistakes and come out ready to play football,” Bertrand said.

Zach White had 21 catches for 535 yards and 11 touchdowns in the regular season for Dexter, but MCI held the standout without a catch in the first game. Doing that again may be asking a lot of the MCI defense, but the Huskies know they have to keep quarterback Brayden Miller, White, Chandler Perkins, and Jason Campbell in check again. Miller threw for 1,132 yards and 16 touchdowns in the regular season.

MCI has a strong offense of its own, led by quarterback Josh Buker, one of the best athletes in the conference. Buker also has eight punt returns for touchdowns, including one against Dexter. Eli Bussell, Adam Bertrand, Willie Moss, and Pedro Matos give the Huskies a deep group of running backs. Tight end David Young had eight touchdown catches in the regular season.

Linebacker Tyler Beem leads the Tigers with 81 solo tackles and three sacks. Linebackers Eli Bussell and Bertrand lead the MCI defense.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM