When the latest reclassification of Maine high school football was complete, no league saw as many changes as Class C North’s Big Ten Conference. Madison and Foxcroft Academy are gone, with both off to Class D. Nokomis joins after a two-year stint in Class B. Medomak Valley is in after a few years of program-building in Class D. The biggest change is the addition of longtime Little Ten Conference member Maine Central Institute, which won the Class D state championship last season.

Despite losing some key players to graduation, including running back/linebacker Eli Bussell and quarterback Josh Buker, the Huskies return the talent needed to compete in their new conference.

“We know it’s a new season, and we’ve got to get back to work,” MCI head coach Tom Bertrand said. “We’re hungry again, and we know it’s not going to come easy.”

Freshman Ryan Friend takes over at quarterback, and while it’s unfair to ask Friend to duplicate Buker’s skill set, Bertrand said the rookie will not be asked to do more than he can. The plan, Bertrand added, is to get the ball into the hands of a deep group of skill players.

Pedro Matos and Adam Bertrand each saw time in the backfield last season and will carry most of the workload for MCI’s run game. Receivers David Young, ZyAnthony Moss and Andrew Whitaker are big-play threats, while junior Kempton Roy slides into the fullback position. Returning starters Aaron Schanck, Seth Bussell and P.J. Plummer lead the offensive line.

Defense was a key as MCI went undefeated in LTC play over the last three seasons.

Adam Bertrand, Matos, Roy and Tucker Sharples comprise the Huskies’ defensive core at linebacker. Plummer, Bussell and Schank return to the defensive line, while Moss and Young are in the secondary.

Before falling to Mt. Desert Island in the conference championship game last November, Winslow had played in four straight Class C state championship games, winning titles in 2014 and 2015. While the Black Raiders lost a lot of talent to graduation, they’ll again be one of the favorites to win the league.

Winslow will be tested early. The Black Raiders open the season at home against defending conference champ MDI, then play at Lawrence in the first game in almost 30 years between the old Pine Tree Conference rivals.

“We have a real challenging schedule, and that’s a good thing,” Winslow head coach Mike Siviski said.

Winslow’s offensive strength is its size on the line. Tackles Cam Winslow and Keenan Janeski, guards Chris Jacques and Andrew Beckwith, and center Andrew Bolduc, give the Black Raiders one of the most imposing lines in Class C. They’ll block for an inexperienced backfield. While Ryan Gagnon returns at quarterback, running backs Ryan Fredette, Alex Demers and Ben Dorval don’t have many varsity carries.

“They’ve been behind a couple all-conference guys for two years, and they want to show what they can do,” Siviski said.

Fredette has made his name on defense for the Black Raiders as an all-conference defensive end. This season, the senior also will play some linebacker. Jacques and Winslow return to the defensive line. In Gagnon, the Black Raiders have a strong kicker whom Siviski is not afraid to let attempt a long field goal.

One of the smallest schools in Class B last year, Gardiner had difficulties overcoming injuries and keeping pace with larger teams on a week-to-week basis, resulting in several close losses and a 2-6 record that kept it out of the postseason. This fall, however, Gardiner will be one of Class C’s biggest schools, and coach Joe White said the team is energized thanks to the improved odds at playoff contention.

“They feel like they’re going to be able to compete and win on Friday night,” he said. “There are no pushovers no matter where you go, but we still feel like we’re going to be able to compete, and that’s got them excited.”

Gardiner’s strength will be in its bevy of talented ballcarriers. Collin Foye is quick, agile and elusive — “an electric player,” White said — and in Kolton Brochu, Nate Malinowski, Cam Michaud and Garrett Maheux, the Tigers have players who can be called on to catch passes, make tacklers miss or run them over.

“We’ve got good problems at the skill positions,” White said. “I’m finding that I’m going to maybe have to put some packages together just to get multiple players touches during the game.”

Last season, Waterville took its lumps as a young team, going winless. Coach Matt Gilley saw improvement from his team in the preseason, and thinks the varsity experience gained by young players last season will help the Purple Panthers move forward this season.

“It pays off. Some of these guys look like a completely different football player,” Gilley said.

A junior class led by quarterback Jack Thompson, lineman John Evans, running back Nick Wildhaber and tight end/linebacker Cooper Hart will pace the Panthers. Seniors Damon Beck and Rasheed Parker return to the offensive line.

After back-to-back 0-8 seasons in the Pine Tree Conference Class B, Nokomis is now in Class C. The Warriors have a new head coach, Jake Rogers, a longtime assistant coach at Lawrence. Rogers said his first goal is instilling in his team a belief that it can win every game.

“I keep telling them that’s the mindset they have to find,” Rogers said.

The Warriors are learning a new offensive system — Rogers describes it as a wing-T with triple option tendencies. Nokomis will also play a 4-3 defense. Junior Andrew Haining is in his third season as the Warriors starting quarterback. Halfbacks Colby Pinette and Chances Graves, fullback Alex Costedio, and split ends Brock Graves and Jaden Brooks will be key players for Nokomis.