There’s no dipping your toe into the regular season in the Pine Tree Conference Class B. You jump right in and expect a tough game every week for two months.

For Skowhegan and Lawrence, opening the season means taking on one of your biggest rivals right out of the gate.

This is the second consecutive season Skowhegan and Lawrence open the season against each other. Last year at Clark Field in Skowhegan, the Indians took a 12-0 win. Skowhegan went on to win seven games and reach the conference semifinals. Lawrence started out slowly, dropping four games in a row before winning four in a row to earn the sixth and final playoff spot in the league.

Here’s look at Friday night’s season-opening matchup between the Bulldogs and Indians.

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Keyes Field, Fairfield

Skowhegan coach Matt Friedman on Lawrence: “The Lawrence offense looked very precise against South Portland. We know they play very tough defense and slowed our passing game down last year.”

Lawrence coach John Hersom on Skowhegan: “They do have a good blend of size and athleticism that kind of poses a problem, I think, for any team… The thing that’s kind of a big question for us is, have we been able to mimic what they do on offense well enough so our guys will be prepared?”

Keys for Skowhegan:

• Stay focused. Against a good opponent like Lawrence, Skowhegan cannot have the mental lapses it had in last week’s exhibition game against Hampden, Friedman said.

“Our focus had to be on execution and assignment. We cannot afford to play as sloppy as we did last week. It is a big rivalry game so I expect the intensity to be very high,” Friedman said.

• Mix it up. Last season, Skowhegan became known as a passing team. It still is, but Skowhegan can run, too. Backs John Blodgett and Jake Murray, as well as quarterback Garrett McSweeney, give the Indians a strong running game, and give the Lawrence defense a lot to consider.

• Stop the run. Lawrence has a deep offensive backfield and a strong running game. Skowhegan defensive front, led by senior defensive tackle Owen Boardman, needs to put the pressure on the Bulldogs by controlling the line of scrimmage.

Keys for Lawrence:

• Be strong in pass coverage. In last year’s game, Lawrence held the Indians to 93 yards in the air and sacked McSweeney twice. As Hersom said, it’s very difficult to match Skowhegan’s speed in practice.

• Establish the run. The Bulldogs have depth in the backfield, with seniors Devon Webb and Gunner McAllister leading the way. Hersom said the team ran the ball well in last week’s exhibition game against South Portland and needs to build on that success.

“We felt we were able to run the football a lot more effectively against South Portland, and that helped us in the pass game a little bit. Being able to establish the run game. We think that’s the strength of our offense right now, with the backfield we have. We’re quick in some spots and we can run with decent power when we need to,” Hersom said.

• Limit mistakes. The little things undid Lawrence in last year’s game at Skowhegan. The Indians scored a touchdown on a punt return, and another on a broken play. Mistakes also cost Lawrence offensively. The Bulldogs gained just 121 yards in the game, 24 on the ground.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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