The Mt. Blue and Cony high school football teams played each other on Sept. 4, in the season opener. Now that they’re getting ready to play again Friday night in the Pine Tree Conference Class B quarterfinals, that first game, a 20-6 Mt. Blue win, might as well have been 100 years ago.

“We’re extremely confident knowing that our last meeting was at the same field. It was the first game of the season and we were a bit rough,” Cony senior wide receiver/defensive back Anthony Brunelle said. “We’ve come together recently and had a great night last Friday (a 40-0 win over Gardiner).”

In the other PTC B quarterfinal, No. 6 Lawrence (4-4) plays at No. 3 Brewer (7-1). On Saturday, Madison will host a playoff game for the first time in 20 years. The No. 4 Bulldogs (4-4) will take on No. 5 Foxcroft Academy (4-4) at 1 p.m. Also on Saturday at 1, No. 3 Mount View (6-2) hosts No. 6 Houlton (4-4) in the first playoff game ever at Mount View’s home field at the Thorndike campus.

Mt. Blue is preparing to play a Cony team that will be much different than the one it beat almost two months ago. In the first meeting, Cony played without Reid Shostak, who was out with an elbow injury. Now healthy, Shostak is once again one of the top players in the conference on both sides of the ball.

“Obviously, they present problems. We played them Week 1. They’re a lot better. They didn’t have their top player, Shostak, that week,” Mt. Blue coach Jim Aylward said following his team’s regular-season finale at Skowhegan. “We know they’re coming up ready to go.”

Cony quarterback Taylor Heath threw for 1,676 yards and 17 touchdowns in the regular season, with Brunelle (45 catches for 668 yard, six touchdowns) his favorite target. Shostak ran for 881 yards and nine touchdowns in six games. Cony’s offensive line will have to contend with a good Mt. Blue pass rush, led by Isaac Collins (seven sacks) and Caleb Hall (five sacks).

For the Cougars, the offense has been led by a trio of backs, Christian Whitney, Zach Meader and Alex Gilbert, throughout the season. Quarterback Ryan Pratt threw for 955 yards and nine touchdowns, and receiver Nate Pratt-Holt (18 catches for 471 yards, four touchdowns) is one of the league’s top playmakers. Dylan Tudeen has seven sacks for the Rams, and will need to apply pressure on Pratt.

Lawrence and Brewer haven’t played since last season’s quarterfinals, a game won by Lawrence at Keyes Field in Fairfield. This year, their playoff matchup is in Brewer, where the Witches (7-1) are undefeated this season.

“They’re a good, solid football team on both sides of the ball. They’re big and physical and pretty athletic at the skill positions,” Lawrence coach John Hersom said. “We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us.”

Led by quarterback Logan Rogerson (595 yards passing, 481 yards rushing, 12 TD’s) and halfback Dylan Severence (1,003 yards, 12 TD’s), Brewer has one of the most dynamic offenses in Class B. The Witches averaged 34 points per game in the regular season while allowing just over 14.

Lawrence may be the most improved team in the conference from the start of the season. After losing their first four games, the Bulldogs won four in a row to clinch the sixth and final playoff spot. Sophomore quarterback Braden Ballard threw for 981 yards and 12 touchdowns in the regular season. Seth Powers has 30 catches for 456 yards and four touchdowns. Since becoming active in Lawrence’s running game in the second half of the season, Powers has 263 yards rushing and a touchdown.

“Can we tackle when we need to? Can we block and run our offense? We feel we’re not the same football team, physically or schematically, we were back in August,” Lawrence coach John Hersom said.

Last season, Madison made the playoffs for the first time in almost 20 years. This season, the Bulldogs host a playoff game for the first time since 1995. Their opponent, Foxcroft, lost to Madison in Week 2, 33-12. The Ponies have changed a lot since that meeting, Madison coach Scott Franzose said. Then, Foxcroft was still coming to grips with the loss of star quarterback Hunter Smith to a season-ending injury. Now, Smith’s replacement, Nick Clawson, is playing with more confidence.

“Now they’re a lot more spread,” Franzose said, describing Foxcroft’s offensive formations. “They’re a fundamentally sound team.”

Clawson leads the Ponies in rushing, with 452 yards. Brandon Brock has 442 rushing yards.

Madison’s spread offense is led by halfback Nick Morales, who ran for 1,053 yards and 14 touchdowns in the regular season. Quarterback Chase Malloy ran for 443 yards and threw for 900.

Defensive lineman Josh Rackliff and linebacker Aaron Morgan lead Madison’s defense.

In the Little Ten Conference, either Houlton or Mount View will come away from Saturday with the first playoff win in school history. Houlton is in its second year of varsity football, while the Mustangs are in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. When Mount View hosted a playoff game that year, it was at Larrabee Field in Knox. This is the first playoff game at the high school field.

“Everybody’s very excited,” Mount View coach Haggie Pratt said.

While Mount View and Houlton didn’t play in the regular season, they have some history. Last season, Houlton beat Mount View late in the season, 28-14, and that loss knocked the Mustangs from playoff contention.

Houlton quarterback Jared Fox threw for more than 700 yards in the regular season, with Garrett Ring and Austin Brown his favorite receivers. Pratt said the Shiretowners throw a lot, as much as 75 or 80 perecent of their offensive plays in some games. Pass defense has been a struggle at times for the Mustangs, who must be ready to defend everything.

“That’s kind of been our bugaboo. We have played good pass defense occasionally,” Pratt said. “We think we can do good things on offense, but do we have the people to stop them?”

Mount View’s strong running attack is led by Tyler Ripley, who ran for more than 1,000 yards in the regular season. Jack Axsom, Darrin Cook, Gavin Simpson and quarterback Cole Hannan are also strong runners for the Mustangs.

Staff Writer Evan Crawley contributed to this report.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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