With mighty Brunswick up next, Messalonskee football coach Brad Bishop said the key is to … well, not think of them as mighty Brunswick.

After all, it’s the formula that’s worked before.

“I don’t think we’ve been intimidated by them,” Bishop said. “I think we have some good experience. Whether or not that pays off remains to be seen, but our kids won’t be intimidated by them. They’ve played hard.”

And won. The Eagles have been a thorn in the Dragons’ side, standing strong when others might have wilted. Messalonskee lost last year’s game but won the previous two, the biggest feat being a 20-7 victory over what was a 5-0 Brunswick squad.

Brunswick is again unbeaten at 3-0, but so is Messalonskee (3-0), and Bishop doesn’t see this year’s matchup as being so much David vs. Goliath as two potential powers squaring off.

“This is the best team we’ve played, and I think we’re the best team they’ve played,” he said. “We could be in for a real good football game.”

The two run-heavy offenses have done plenty of damage throughout the young season. Brunswick has routed Hampden (54-20), Lawrence (47-0) and Cony (58-14). Messalonskee has defeated Gardiner (45-21), Cony (46-14) and Hampden (49-7).

Here’s a look at the Brunswick-Messalonskee matchup.

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Veterans Field, Oakland

Brunswick coach Dan Cooper on Messalonskee: “They are well-coached. They have scrappy kids. I like their guards and linebackers, they can fly around pretty good. They run a north-south type offense (and) they play hard. … They weren’t afraid of us (in 2014). They were ready from the get-go.”

Bishop on Brunswick: “They’re big up front. They’ve got 21 or 22 seniors. They have a lot of very good athletes. We both run very similar offenses.”

Keys for Brunswick:

• Don’t give up big plays. Messalonskee is a talented but light team, and if the Dragons can force the Eagles to settle for smaller gains, their advantages in size and depth can wear Messalonskee down in the second half — when the game might be waiting to be decided.

• Win the battle up front. Brunswick has lost the battle in the trenches whenever its lost the game against Messalonskee, and will need to be better on the line if it wants to avoid a similar outcome. The Dragons need to establish the tone of the game and prove to be the more physical team, which will open up holes for explosive ball carriers Hunter Garrett and Jesse Devereaux.

• Utilize the full attack. Garrett and Devereaux are excellent options, but turning to the passing game now and again will make it even tougher for Messalonskee to keep up with an offense that has put up 159 points in three games. Brunswick has the players to do it; tight end Corbin Teel and Jackson Gordon showed big-play ability in the Dragons’ 58-14 win over Cony last weekend, hauling in touchdown receptions over 60 yards each.

Keys for Messalonskee:

• Show the speed. Bishop likes the quickness he has along the defensive line and front seven and the speed he has in the defensive backfield, a group led by Devin Brown. With Brunswick’s ability to break the big play, defensive players that can chase down the backs and seal holes that pop up will go a long way toward keeping the Dragons within reach.

• Share the load. The Eagles have a trio of fine ball carriers in quarterback Austin Pelletier, Colby Dexter and Tyler Lewis. Switching up the carries will keep runners fresh and the defense honest, particularly late in the game.

• No penalties, no turnovers, no mistakes. It’s a formula for any team in any game, but it becomes especially paramount against a team that has cruised through the season the way the Dragons have, with wins by 34, 47 and 44 points, respectively.

“It boils down to blocking and tackling,” Bishop said. “You can have all the athletes you want, you still have to block the guy in front of you and tackle well. It’s not about the scheme, it’s about the fundamentals of the scheme.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifant


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