Not much beats a good football road trip. Start planning yours now. There are 16 high school football teams in central Maine. If you want to see each of them play at least once, this is your roadmap.

• Sept. 2, Skowhegan at Lawrence: These Somerset County rivals each made the playoffs last season. This is a good early season test for both teams.

• Sept. 3, Orono at Mount View. The Little Ten Conference cut a round from the playoffs this season, dropping the number of teams who will make the postseason from six to four. It’s hard to call a game in week one a must win, but in what should be a competitive battle for those four playoff spots, this is as must win as a week one game can get.

• Sept. 9, Messalonskee at Cony. You won’t find two more completely different styles of offense in a game than this one. The thing is, when run well, both work.

• Sept. 16, Belfast at Madison. These two teams will be fighting for a home playoff game in the Big Ten Conference this season. This game could be a difference-maker for the winner.

• Sept. 17, Mt. Desert Island at Winslow. On the way to an undefeated season and the Class C state title last year, Winslow allowed just 27 points in the regular season. Twenty of those were to the Trojans. This game features two of the top teams in the Big Ten Conference.

• Sept. 23, Maine Central Institute at Mattanawcook Academy. Make the long drive north to Lincoln and you’ll be rewarded with one of the best games of the season in the Little Ten Conference. This is a rematch of last season’s conference championship game. While MCI won that game, 45-0, the Huskies appear to have come back to the pack a little in the LTC. The Lynx should be one of the top contenders to knock MCI from the top of the league.

• Sept. 24, Gardiner at Nokomis. These two teams struggled in the ultra-competitive Pine Tree Conference Class B last season. Both feel they’ve improved this season and this midseason game is a great chance to showcase that improvement.

Sept. 30, Brunswick at Skowhegan. The Dragons earned the top seed in the conference playoffs, while the Indians were second. Both expect to be in the mix at the top of the PTC B again this season. For Skowhegan, this is week two of a tough two week midseasons stretch that also sees the team play Brewer.

Oct. 7, Belfast at Waterville. Last season, Waterville hosted its first night game in decades, renting lights for the Homecoming game against Oceanside. It was such a success, the Purple Panthers are doing it again this season. Belfast comes to Waterville for the night game the Panthers hope becomes an annual tradition.

Oct. 8, Oak Hill at Lisbon. This could be the game of the year in the Campbell Conference Class D division. Oak Hill and Lisbon have met in the playoffs each of the last three seasons. Each time, Oak Hill took a one-point win on the way to the state championship. Counting the regular season, Oak Hill is 6-0 against Lisbon in the last three seasons.

Oct. 14, Maranacook at Winthrop/Monmouth. Another game with implications on the Campbell Conference Class D playoff picture. Many are calling Winthrop/Monmouth the favorite in the conference.

Oct. 21, Skowhegan at Mt. Blue. For the leagues playing an eight-game regular season, this is rivalry week. There are plenty of classic rivalry games from which to choose, but we’re going with Skowhegan vs. Mt. Blue this year. Skowhegan could be playing for a first-round bye in the playoffs, while a Mt. Blue team that opens the season with just one returning starter but loads of promise could be playing for a playoff spot, period. Cony plays at Gardiner this week as well.

Oct. 22, Waterville at Winslow. Central Maine’s Battle of the Bridge isn’t what is was a few years ago, when the Black Raiders and Purple Panthers’ regular season game was a tune-up for the inevitable playoff rematch, but it’s still worth your time.

Oct. 28, Mount View at MCI. While some leagues will be in playoff mode the last weekend of October, the Little Ten will be wrapping up the regular season. Mount View and MCI haven’t developed a rivalry yet, but with the schools’ proximity (21 miles) and if both are playoff contenders, the Huskies and Mustangs could become a heated affair.

Oct. 29, Kents Hill at Hebron. Going back more than 120 years, the Kents Hill-Hebron rivalry is one of the oldest in the country. Check out this year’s game to see which team wins the Headmaster’s Chair.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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