Tonight’s Pine Tree Conference Class A game between Lawrence (7-0) and Brunswick (6-1) could be a playoff preview. That would suit Brunswick just fine. The last two times the Dragons and the Bulldogs met in the playoffs, the Dragons came away with a win.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a rivalry, but it’s a game we circle on our calendar, as far as knowing who we have to beat to go anywhere in the playoffs,” Brunswick head coach Dan Cooper said.

Home-field advantage in the PTC A postseason is on the line tonight at Brunswick’s Crimmins Field. Lawrence can’t clinch home field with a win, the Bulldogs need a Messalonskee loss at Bangor, or barring that, to beat Messalonskee next week in the regular season finale. Brunswick, on the other hand, faces winless Mt. Ararat next week, so a victory over Lawrence tonight all but sews up home-field advantage for the Dragons.

“I just think overall, they’re really physical on both sides of the ball. It looks like they’re executing their offense quite well right now,” Lawrence head coach John Hersom said of Brunswick.

For Brunswick, the key to the offense has been running back Jared Jensen.

The PTC A hasn’t seen a workhorse back like Jensen since Lewiston’s Jared Turcotte in 2006. Jensen averages 27 carries and 249 yards per game. He has an 840 yard lead over Messalonskee’s Corey McKenzie (who missed two games with injury) for the rushing title, and Jensen has 70 more carries than Skowhegan’s Tyler Savage, the second-most used back in the league.

“Jensen certainly is the focal point,” Hersom said. “Their line must be playing well to create that much running room for him.”

Lucas McCue is Brunswick’s second-leading ball carrier, with 43 carries for 262 yards. Alex Bandouveres, a 6-foot-2, 240 pound fullback, has 24 carries for 147 yards for the Dragons.

With such a strong running game, the Dragons rarely throw the ball. Quarterback Jason Carter has nine completions on just 21 attempts, for 257 yards and two touchdowns. In the playoffs, Brunswick has beaten the Bulldogs with a halfback option pass, and that’s something for which Lawrence has to be ready.

“They don’t rely on it, but they’ll pick there spots with it. We’ve just got to be smart and disciplined and play our positions and our responsibilities,” Hersom said.

Lawrence also is a run-oriented team. The Bulldogs are led by Anthony Sementelli (760 yards, 15 TDs) and Josh Doolan (542 yards, nine TDs). Quarterback Spencer Carey has run for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“Defensively, they’re pretty stingy against the run. I think it’s going to be quite a test for us,” Hersom said.

Added Cooper: “I think they’re pretty balanced. They have a couple really good backs. (Carey’s) a real special athlete. We don’t want him to get free on the waggle.”

Jake Duffy has 65 tackles to lead the Brunswick defense. McCue has 36 tackles, while Jensen has five interceptions.

The Bulldogs defense is led by linebacker Luke Lawrence, with 56 tackles, and defensive lineman Eriq Stewart, who has 44 tackles and four sacks. Carey has 39 tackles and a pair of sacks.

Lawrence should get a boost with the return of defensive back Aaron LaFrance and guard Jeremy Frantz, who have each missed games with injuries.

“We’ve got Aaron back. That’s good news,” Hersom said. “Getting Jeremy back this week will be a plus, he’s been out for two weeks.”

These teams met in an exhibition game in the preseason. If anything can be taken from that meeting, it’s the teams are very similar, Cooper said.

“We think we’re just as physical as they are,” Cooper said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

 

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