It went on for a decade, and became a fall tradition like Halloween. Standing between the Winslow High School football team and a trip to the Class B state championship game was Belfast. Blocking the Lions’ path to the title game was the Black Raiders.

Nine times between 1995 and 2004, Winslow and Belfast met in the regional playoffs. Each time, the game was a rematch of a regular-season game. Regular season success did not ensure postseason glory. Four times, the winner of the regular-season game lost in the playoff do-over.

“The winner of that game was going to be in the state championship game,” Winslow head coach Mike Siviski said. “The games were fantastic.”

The season of the rematch is upon us, and that usually means close games. It also means don’t use the first game between two teams as a blueprint for how it’s going to go the second time around.

Of the 16 high school football playoff games in Maine this weekend, 15 are rematches of a regular-season game. Only Eastern Class D semifinal opponents Mattanawcook Academy and Maine Central Institute did not play each other in the regular season.

“All I know is, it’s tough to beat a good team twice,” Waterville head coach Frank Knight said.

Knight’s Purple Panthers are the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Class C playoffs, and on Saturday host No. 3 Mt. Desert Island. The Trojans were the only team to beat Waterville in the regular season, taking a 42-35 win in Bar Harbor on Oct. 18.

“It’s a great opportunity to face the one team to beat us, in the playoffs,” Knight said. “We’re certainly not going to be over-confident, because they beat us.”

Some coaches say preparing for a rematch is harder than preparing for a regular game. Skowhegan head coach Matt Friedman said he tends to study the mistakes made in the first game, trying to figure out how to avoid making them again. You don’t want to get away from what your team does well, but what if what your team does well didn’t work much the first time?

“Part of the problem for a coach is, we over analyze everything,” Friedman said. “I’ve probably watched more film this week than any week all season.”

This is the second consecutive rematch for Skowhegan. Last week, the Indians beat Mt. Blue, 36-29, after losing to the Cougars a week earlier in the regular-season finale, 42-40. Confidence can play a role in the rematch. Skowhegan knew that it could play with Mt. Blue, it just needed to correct a few mistakes.

“My players, none of them had ever played, much less won, a playoff game before,” Friedman said. “They stepped up their game. Now they know they can play at that level.”

Waterville and MDI played just a few weeks ago, so their rematch features teams that were starting to hit their stride and play well when they met in the regular season. Winslow and Belfast, on the other hand, played in Week 1 of the regular season. . Winslow won that game 28-12Each team was just getting warmed up. Each has had an entire season in which to improve for this, their first playoff game in nine seasons, and it shows in the film each team studies of the other.

“Your base is your base, but there can be a great amount of change,” Siviski said. “Both teams have come so far. The first game (against Belfast) was the first game of the season. You see a lot of missed assignments, a lot of mistakes neither team is making anymore.”

In Eastern Class B, Messalonskee plays at Cony in another rematch of any opening week game. Cony won that game, 48-20.

“Everybody’s undefeated right now. That’s what we tell the kids. We’re still undefeated, and so is Cony,” Messalonskee head coach Brad Bishop said.

If you win, every coach knows what lies ahead, in the regional final round. Another rematch.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242[email protected]Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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