GARDINER — Leavitt football coach Mike Hathaway acknowledges it’s a bit different watching Gardiner on film these days.

Spread formations. Trips right. Trips left. Multiple looks out of the shotgun.

They are, Hathaway says, not your typical Tigers.

“This is the most balanced Gardiner team I’ve ever seen,” he said. “It is a little bit different seeing them spread the field.”

Gardiner (5-2) and Leavitt (6-1) will renew their rivalry tonight at Hoch Field in a game that could shake up the Pine Tree Conference Class B playoff matchups.

Elsewhere this weekend, Oak Hill (6-1) will play at Dirigo (6-1) at 6 p.m. Saturday in a game that could determine the top seed in the Campbell Conference Class C playoffs.

Leavitt still has an outside shot at a No. 1 seed, but would need a victory tonight, a Mt. Blue loss to Waterville, plus help from others.

Gardiner could move as high as third in Crabtree points, which determine playoff positioning, with a win. The Tigers enter the game fourth.

“We’re looking forward to having a team like Leavitt come over,” Gardiner coach Matt Burgess said. “They’ve been real competitive games. We’re looking forward to one (tonight).”

Indeed, the Tigers and Hornets have played a few tight games during the last few years. However, Leavitt has won the six meetings, outscoring Gardiner 179-46 during that stretch. Gardiner last beat Leavitt in 2007.

“I really want to win. It’s been years,” Gardiner tailback Steve Sirois said. “We’ve been beat up the past three years. Every year we come up we’re hoping, then we get shut out.

“It’s been really bad losing to them every game. I want to go out with a bang against them. I want to be on top the last time.”

It won’t be easy.

Leavitt, which features a new-look offense centered around utility player Brian Bedard, also has the top-rated defense in the conference. The Hornets are holding opponents to 9.4 points a game.

Furthermore, the Hornets have allowed just three rushing touchdowns all season.

“We’ve been able to do a good job in stopping the run,” Hathaway said. “We work hard on running to the ball.”

The Tigers, led by quarterback Dennis Meehan, will look to establish the ground game, but will also try to spread the Hornets out. Tyler Jamison and Josh Moore give Gardiner size on the perimeter and can stretch the field.

“They have talent all over the field,” Hathaway said. “It starts with Meehan. He is a good threat to run and throw. He can make a lot of plays. He jumps out at you first. But Sirois and (Seth) Wing, they can hurt you.”

The Tigers will have to contain Bedard to win the game.

The senior lines up just about everywhere, from in the backfield to out wide.

“They are still difficult to prepare for,” Burgess said. “They run that offense as well as anybody runs an offense. We’ve been practicing against it all week long. (Bedard) lines up in a whole bunch of different spots, which is both good and bad. We have to prepare for all those different things. When a key guy is lining up in one spot you can usually identify where things are happening.

“Hopefully, we can key on some of those things and play good sound defense across the board.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

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