The schedule says the Skowhegan vs. Bangor game tonight is not a playoff game, but everybody involved knows better.

“You win, you’re in,” Bangor coach Mark Hackett said. “It seems like half the games we play are playoff games.”

Lawrence, Brunswick and Messalonskee have claimed three of the four spots in the Pine Tree Conference Class A playoffs, which begin next week. The winner of tonight’s game between Skowhegan (5-3) and Bangor (6-2) earns the final postseason bid.

“We feel excited to have the opportunity,” Skowhegan coach Mike Marston said.

In every other league in the state, the playoffs begin this weekend. In the PTC Class B, No. 2 Mt. Blue (7-1) hosts  No. 7 Mt. Desert Island (5-3), while No. 6 Waterville (4-4) is at No. 3 Gardiner (6-2). In the Little Ten Conference, No. 7 Maine Central Institute (4-4) is at No. 2 Orono (7-1), while No. 4 Mt. View (6-2), making its first playoff appearance, hosts No. 5 Foxcroft Academy (5-3) at 1 p.m. Saturday.
In another Saturday game, No. 5 Winslow (6-2) is at No. 4 Lisbon (6-2) for a Campbell Conference Class C quarterfinal.

For Skowhegan, this game could be the culmination of a strong turnaround. Last season, the Indians went 1-7.

“It looks like Skowhegan’s back,” Hackett said.

Since losing to Lawrence on Sept. 30, the Indians have won three games in a row. Coming off a tough 2010, Skowhegan just wanted to see improvement this season.

“Every season, our goal is to make the playoffs and go as far as we can,” Marston said, “but expectations weren’t all that high. The kids stuck together and improved each week… It’s a real tribute to the seniors we have. They’ve had a real positive attitude.”

Led by Adam Dusty (137 carries for 1,062 yards, 16 touchdowns) and Tyler Savage (125 carries for 680 yards and seven touchdowns), Skowhegan’s ground game has been one of the best in the conference.

“Dusty is as good as any back in the league,” Hackett said.

Cody Chapman emerged as Bangor’s top runner. Chapman leads the Rams with 833 yards and 18 touchdowns, with much of that coming over the last four games, in which Chapman ran for 602 yards and 12 scores. A pure, downhill runner, Chapman will not beat you with finesse.

“When he started in our program, (Chapman) was a guard with the freshman team,” Hackett said. “He’s probably our most intense player.”

Bangor will throw, too. Quarterback Carl Farnham is third in the PTC in passing yards, 599, and receiver Nick Sherwood has 14 catches for 270 yards and four touchdowns.

“We’re going to have to play a great game,” Marston said.

Defensive end Chris Kruse leads Skowhegan with 55 tackles and two sacks. Ethan Johnson has four interceptions for the Indians.

Chapman leads Bangor with 55 tackles. Elias Throckmorton has 40 tackles and two fumble recoveries for the Rams.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
[email protected]

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