Your Friday nights are valuable. You don’t want to drive all over central Maine, only to watch a bad high school football game. That happens, all you have for your trouble is a long drive home and a soggy hot dog burning a hole in your stomach.

Each week, there’s sure to be great games. This guide should help you narrow down your focus.

Week 1: Cony at Messalonskee. Messalonskee made the Pine Tree Conference Class A playoffs last season, and Cony is a team that should contend this year. In late October, when we’re looking at tiebreakers and head-to-head matchups, we might be looking very closely at this game.

Also consider: Old Town at Madison, a 52-48 Madison win last season, and Waterville at Mt. Desert Island.

Week 2: Bangor at Lawrence. The two most dominant teams in the PTC A over the last six years, Lawrence and Bangor will be in the mix for the top spot in the conference again. Since 2006, Lawrence has won three conference titles, Bangor has won two, and these rivals have met in the conference championship three times in that time.

Also consider: Dirigo at Winslow, and Maranacook at Lisbon.

Week 3: Oak Hill at Winslow. A matchup of old PTC B foes, both Winslow and Oak Hill have the talent to make a run the Campbell Conference Class C playoffs. This could be a preview of a first round playoff game.

Also consider: Skowhegan at Messalonskee, and Gardiner at Waterville on Saturday.

Week 4: Lewiston at Skowhegan. Both these teams were in the hunt for a PTC A playoff spot late last season. At this point in the midseason, Skowhegan should be more comfortable in the spread offense installed by first-year coach Matt Friedman, and Lewiston’s young backfield should be hitting its stride. This won’t be a must-win game for either team, but the loser might look back and say “if only we’d won in week 4.”

Also consider: Mt. Blue at Gardiner, and Winthrop at Oak Hill.

Week 5: Yarmouth at Winslow. Yarmouth has dominated the Campbell Conference Class C over the last two seasons, and this will be the Clippers’ first visit to Poulin Field. Winslow has a winning tradition that goes back decades. With two consecutive state titles, Yarmouth is building a tradition.

Also consider: Mattanawcook at MCI, and Skowhegan at Lawrence.

Week 6: Mt. Blue at Leavitt. The best playoff game of the 2011 season was the PTC B championship game between these teams. Leavitt won 22-21 in double overtime. The Hornets have won three consecutive conference titles, and there’s a good chance both Mt. Blue and Leavitt could be undefeated when these teams meet on Oct. 5.

Also consider: Brunswick at Messalonskee, and Skowhegan at Cony.

Week 7: Brewer at Waterville. The Witches and Purple Panthers are both likely playoff teams in the PTC B, but this game could be for positioning. Once you get past Leavitt and Mt. Blue, there’s a lot of parity in the league. With so many teams potentially bunched in the middle, a win in the next-to-last week of the season could be the difference between playing at home and hitting the road in the first round.

Also consider: Maranacook at Oak Hill, and Winthrop at Freeport.

Week 8: Lawrence at Brunswick. In Fairfield, they still remember how the 2009 and 2010 seasons ended, at home, losing to Brunswick in the playoffs. Last season, Lawrence won this game, 10-7. The players change, but this is still one of the better rivalries in the PTC A right now.

Also consider: Leavitt at Gardiner, and Winslow at Lisbon.

Week 9: Messalonskee at Lawrence. The Eagles and Bulldogs played in back-to-back games last season, the regular-season finale and the PTC A semifinals. Lawrence won both games. Like last season, playoff position could be at stake in this game.

Also consider: A playoff game. With the exception of the PTC A, every league in the state will be in the first round of the postseason.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]


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