Matt Friedman, the first-year head coach of the Skowhegan Area High School football team, is making his first visit to Lawrence’s Keyes Field tonight, and he’s not quite sure what to expect.

“I’ve been trying to figure out what I could liken it to. Coming from Jay, we always had the Jay-Livermore Falls big games,” Friedman said. “This is something probably even bigger than that. This is going in to play the perennial powerhouse on their home field and see if we can knock them off.”

Skowhegan (2-2) is trying to climb into the top four of the Pine Tree Conference Class A and earn a playoff spot. Lawrence (4-0), which hasn’t lost a regular-season game since late in the 2009 season, stands in the way.

“They’re tough. There’s no secret about it, they’re a tough team,” Skowhegan quarterback Adam Clukey said. “I think we can find some holes in it and we can exploit it. We can play with them, I think.”

Clukey is coming off his best game in which he threw for 298 yards in a win over Lewiston. This season, Clukey has 855 yards passing and seven touchdowns. Lawrence head coach John Hersom said he expects to see the Indians throw often tonight.

“They did try to run quite a bit against Messalonskee (two weeks ago). Last week versus Lewiston, they threw the ball a little more,” Hersom said. “We’re expecting they’ll use the run game to keep us off-balance.”

Skowhegan’s top receivers include Grant Benson (17 catches for 309 yards, two touchdowns), D.J. Allen (14 catches for 226 yards, three touchdowns), Ben Salley (11 catches for 164 yards) and Owen Mercier (13 catches for 161 yards, two touchdowns).

To get Clukey time to throw, the Skowhegan offensive line must hold a very good Lawrence pass rush at bay. Eriq Stewart, Jake Doolan and Spencer Carey each have a pair of sacks for Lawrence and Luke Lawrence leads team with 29 tackles.

“They’re very solid fundamentally. They don’t make a lot of mental mistakes. They’re also a very physical team. I think athletically, we match up well with them. I feel like we’re going to give them things they’ll have to work on,” Friedman said.

Skowhegan can run, too. Tyler Savage is third in the league with 393 yards on the ground.

There’s not one or two players to key on in the Lawrence offense. The Bulldogs have a number of players who can beat you, led by Carey at quarterback and running back Anthony Sementelli (50 carries for 385 yards, 10 TDs). Josh Doolan has 23 carries for 264 yards and four touchdowns. Xavier Lewis has 99 yards rushing and caught a pair of passes for 54 yards, while Jake Doolan has run for 92 yards and caught three passes for 131 yards.

“They do have a lot of weapons. They use a lot of formations. They get to the line quickly. They don’t give you a lot of time to recognize and set up, so we have to work hard this week to be able to do that,” Friedman said.

Allen leads Skowhegan with 43 tackles and two interceptions. Alex Baker has 29 tackles for the Indians, while Brett Gilbert has 20 stops.

Hersom said he thinks his team is starting to play its best football.

“I thought we had our best week last week as far as having the right mindset and paying attention to detail,” Hersom said, referencing how the Bulldogs prepared for last week’s game at Mt. Ararat.

Lawrence will get a boost with the return of kicker Chad Martin, who missed last week’s game after suffering a concussion against Oxford Hills on Sept. 14.

“(Martin) is cleared for Friday. He’ll get his reps (Thursday). Hopefully, that will make him ready,” Hersom said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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