Last season, Waterville Senior High School played its homecoming game under rented lights at Drummond Field. The game was well-received by fans and players, so the Purple Panthers are doing it again this season and hope to make the night game a homecoming tradition.

“We’re really looking forward to it. We’ve gotten questions, booster members, players, ‘hey, are you doing that again?’ We certainly will for the foreseeable future,” Waterville coach Matt Gilley said.

The Panthers will host Belfast at 7 p.m. Friday.

“It’s really nice for the community… It was really outstanding last year to see the number of old faces from years past and all the youth guys that are coming up,” Gilley said. “It a chance to build that sense of community and something for them to look forward to when they get to this level. A little bait on the hook, to fuel that excitement at that lower levels.”

Friday night’s game will be one of the highlights of a tough season for the Panthers, who at 0-5 are struggling with a young and inexperienced team.

“We have lots of young guys getting lots of varsity reps. We’ve asked a lot out of a lot of sophomores and a few freshmen. To their credit, they continue to show up and work hard every day,” Gilley said. “All you can tell them is it will pay off as you mature. This is experience not a lot of sophomores are getting.”

Gilley noted the success Waterville is having at lower levels this season and hopes that points to varsity success in the near future as the Panthers’ rebuilding continues.

“(Varsity players are) doing a great job mentoring the young guys. Junior high is undefeated, Grade 6 is undefeated. There’s a lot of good things happening and these guys are leading the way,” Gilley said.

• • •

Last season, first place in the Big Ten Conference came down to a coin flip. While it’s unlikely it will come to that to break any ties this season, there’s a scenario in which a game between two of the league’s struggling teams determines home field throughout the playoffs.

If Mt. Desert Island (4-1) beats Madison (5-0) Friday night in Bar Harbor, there’s a good chance those teams could finish 7-1, along with Winslow. If that’s the case, we once again start climbing the tie breaker ladder. Luckily, we only have to climb one rung, to Crabtree Points.

Crabtree Points are calculated by adding a teams winning percentage to the winning percentage of its opponents. In the Big Ten, teams do not play a complete round robin schedule, so you don’t play will be important in this scenario. Winslow does not play Old Town (3-2), which takes from the Black Raiders a stronger opponent both Madison and MDI face. With a three-way tie broken by Crabtree Points, this drops the Black Raiders to third.

Madison does not play John Bapst this season, while MDI does not face Waterville. Both Bapst and Waterville are currently 0-5 and will play each other Oct. 14 in the next-to-last game of the regular season. With strength of schedule such a big component of the Crabtree Points formula, the Waterville-Bapst game could determine the top seed.

If Waterville beats Bapst, it improves Madison’s strength of schedule. If Bapst wins, MDI gets the edge.

Of course, if Madison wins at MDI this week, then closes the season with wins over Old Town and Hermon, the three-way tie discussion is moot. Still, it’s fun to look at the what-ifs in a league that dealt with an odd tie last season, too.

• • •

Skowhegan honored three former players at halftime of Friday’s game against Brunswick, inducting Josh Whiting, Cody Vigue and Billy Clark into the school’s football hall of fame.

A 2006 Skowhegan graduate, Whiting was a first team all-conference selection his junior and senior seasons. Whiting played fullback and defensive end. He had 89 tackles in his career, and scored six touchdowns as a senior, and also was a strong lead blocker in the double wing offense the Indians ran during his playing days. Whiting received the Terry Corson Outstanding Defensive Lineman Award and played in the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl.

Vigue and Clark were teammates on Skowhegan’s 2008 Pine Tree Conference Class A championship team that reached the state game. Vigue was an all-PTC defensive back as a junior and senior, and led the Indians in tackles in 2008. Clark, also a 2009 graduate, was a four-year letter winner and one of the top running backs in Skowhegan history. As a senior, Clark ran for more than 2,200 yards and was a finalist for the Fitzpatrick Trophy. Clark’s scoring record of 328 career points still stands at Skowhegan. Like Whiting, both Vigue and Clark represented Skowhegan in the Lobster Bowl.

• • •

Messalonskee didn’t lose focus after its loss to Brunswick. Coach Brad Bishop didn’t let it.

The Eagles were coming off of their first defeat of the season, and from the first practice of the week their coach had an order. No shirts, no shells. Full pads, every day.

It wasn’t punishment. Just a message.

“I just wanted to keep them focused and realize that football’s a game of hard work,” Bishop said. “The game itself is tough enough and sometimes I believe if you go out in shorts and T-shirts all the time, they get a little lackadaisical.”

The message was well-received. Messalonskee routed Nokomis, 63-28, improving to 4-1 and keeping pace in the PTC B race. Contests against losing teams can be trap games for those in a playoff chase. Bishop made sure his team didn’t overlook the 0-5 Warriors, but he also said he never had to worry about that.

“Our kids were focused … and they reacted well to everything,” he said. “They’re very hard workers. We were well-prepared for the game.”

No victory can be overlooked for a team in Messalonskee’s position. The Eagles stand alone in third, only a game behind Brewer and Brunswick for a first-round bye come playoff time. The Eagles will have chances to control their own destiny and lock up a bye, but only because they’ll play the teams they’re competing with — Skowhegan, Brewer and finally Lawrence.

“We’re probably in the playoffs with four wins, but we’d like a little better seeding, obviously,” Bishop said. “We don’t talk much about the opponent during the week. We talk about what can we do to get better during practice. That’s how we control things.”

• • •

Around the state: It hasn’t been a good couple of weeks for long win streaks. First, Winslow lost at Madison, ending the Black Raiders win streak at 25 games. On Friday, Oak Hill lost at Winthrop/Monmouth, snapping its win streak at 24 games. Now, the longest active win streak in the state belongs to Thornton Academy. The defending Class A state champs have won 12 games in a row… The big game in the PTC B this week is Brewer (5-0) at Brunswick (5-0) in a rematch of last season’s conference title game. The winner has the inside track at home field throughout the playoffs… In Class B South, Marshwood (3-2) hosts Kennebunk (5-0) in game featuring York County rivals fighting for playoff position… There are 13 undefeated teams left in the state, including three — MCI, Dexter and Orono — in the Little Ten Conference. MCI travels to Dexter on Saturday and hosts Orono on Oct. 14.

Staff writer Drew Bonifant contributed to this report.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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