The old timers speak of Lawrence-Mt. Blue football games in hushed tones, with a reverence usually reserved for state championships.

The current crop of Bulldogs and Cougars just want to make their own mark on this rivalry, renewed this season with both schools in the new Pine Tree Conference Class B.

“We know what they’re going to do. They know what we’re going to do. It’s going to be a fun game,” Mt. Blue senior wide receiver/defensive back Nate Backus said.

Mt. Blue is the defending Class B state champion, and Lawrence was runner-up in Class A last season. Both teams cruised to wins in Week 1. Both are expected to be among the league’s top teams this season, and both are looking forward to this early season test at Mt. Blue’s new Caldwell Field.

“It is a nice challenge for us. We’ve always felt our kids will be ready for a challenge,” Lawrence head coach John Hersom said.

Added Mt. Blue head coach Gary Parlin: “We have a world of respect for them and what they do. John’s record over the last five, six years is unmatched in Maine high school football.”

Since the start of the 2006 regular season, Lawrence has lost one regular season game. To add another game to that short list, the Cougars need to play smart, disciplined football. Parlin told his team, you will not trick Lawrence. You beat them by winning the individual matchups.

“You have to block them. The guys on their team on defense do their job. They’re fundamentally sound,” Parlin said. “They don’t take a lot of chances, they just make you come out and block their tackles, block their backers … If you win the battle with the guy in front of you, that gives us a little better chance to win.”

“I see a very physical, strong and fast football team. But that’s what I see when I look at us, too,” Mt. Blue wide receiver/defensive back Cam Abbott said. “I’ll go through their tape, then I’ll go through our tape, and we’re very similar.”

The Cougars have one of the top offensive lines in the state, led by senior all-conference guards Tyler Sennick and Connor Farrington, and tackle Colin Richards. Mt. Blue’s line kept quarterback Andrew Pratt from facing any pressure in last week’s 49-20 win over Hampden Academy. Pratt completed 76 percent of his passes for 343 yards and five touchdowns, and ran for another.

The Cougars have two talented receivers in Backus (five catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns last week) and Abbott (five catches for 143 yards, two touchdowns). Running back Kindle Bonsall had nine carries for 50 yards, and also caught three passes for 44 yards.

“Defensively, we’re facing more of a challenge. We’re facing a team that pretty multiple, throwing and running. We need to be ready to take away some of their big play potential,” Hersom said.

A defensive line led by ends Jim Leathers and Beau Grenier, and tackles Kyle McLain and Ryan Gagne will be key for the Bulldogs, as will the secondary, which includes safety Cody Martin and corners J.T. Nutting and Derick Raven.

“They’re going to be coming after us. We’ve got a target on our back. They’re the defending champions. We’re going to work our best,” McLain said.

Offensively, the Bulldogs won’t get fancy. Ethan Powers ran for 131 yards and four touchdowns last week, and will again be the focal point of Lawrence’s offense. Leathers and Martin will split time at quarterback.

“Our progress has been pretty good this week. I think our game plan is going to be pretty simple on offense. Try to focus on those things that keep the chains moving and keep the ball out of (Mt. Blue’s) hands,” Hersom said.

Farrington, Dustin Richards, Brian Durrell, Pratt, Abbott and Backus lead Mt. Blue’s defense.

“I hope it doesn’t come down to turnovers for either team,” Parlin said. “I hope one team is just a little bit better than the other and plays that way.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]


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