There’s no will they or won’t they playoff drama entering Friday’s regular season finale between rivals Messalonskee and Lawrence. Both teams know they’ll be in the playoffs.

Who and where each team will be playing in the postseason is up for grabs, however, and each team can lock down a home playoff game with a win.

Lawrence (5-2) can earn a bye to the Pine Tree Conference Class B semifinals with a win coupled with a Cony loss to Gardiner. The Bulldogs will be home in the first round with a win over Messalonskee, but could fall to the No. 5 seed with a loss, depending on the outcome of the Skowhegan/Mt. Blue game.

Messalonskee (4-3) can move up to the No. 3 seed with a win, but could drop to fifth with a loss. A Messalonskee loss and a Mt. Blue loss means the Eagles hold on to the No. 4 spot and play at home next week.

Here’s a look at the Messalonskee-Lawrence matchup:

Messalonskee players to watch: QB/S Jake Dexter, T/DT Jake Doyon, RB/LB Jack Bernatchez, T/DT Klint Hall, HRB/DB Caleb Chavarie.

Lawrence players to watch: TE/S Seth Powers, QB/DB Cody Martin, LB Cole Robinson, G/DE Jesse Dodge, RB/LB Mitchell Cushing.

Messalonskee coach Brad Bishop on Lawrence: “They’ll be a tough opponent. They’re a typical Lawrence team. Their kids will play hard no matter what their record is.”

Lawrence coach John Hersom on Messalonskee: “They’re pretty diverse with their offense. They execute pretty well. They seem to be peaking at the right time. They’re playing with confidence.”

Three keys for Messalonskee:

1. Make Lawrence work hard on offense.

Bishop put it simply. “Do not allow the big play.” As Bishop noted, the Bulldogs have a lot of athletes who can chew big chunks of yardage on one play. Messalonskee has to limit those opportunities.

2. Run the ball and control the clock.

Bernatchez, Chavarie and Dexter lead Messalonskee’s strong running game. If the Eagles are grinding out drives, Lawrence has less of a chance to make that big offensive play.

3. Continue playing with confidence.

The Eagles have played undermanned all season, and many of the players are now used to playing both ways for four quarters. The win over Brunswick two weeks ago was affirmation in their hard work. If Messalonskee can tap into that energy, it will be a tough opponent on Friday night, and in the playoffs.

Three keys for Lawrence:

1. Pay attention to fundamentals.

Last week against Brunswick, the Bulldogs gave up a few long runs that were the result of poor pursuit on Lawrence’s part. “We have to react a little better,” Hersom said. “We have to shore up our tackling.”

2. Be wary of the pass.

Messalonskee is a run first team, with a number of players who can break away for big gains on any play. That doesn’t mean the Bulldogs should just load up the defense to stop the run. Dexter has a good arm, and the Eagles can beat you through the air, too.

3. Eliminate turnovers.

Brunswick’s final touchdown against Lawrence came on a 33-yard interception return. If Messalonskee turns Lawrence turnovers into points, it wins.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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