Now, the Little Ten Conference gets interesting.

Starting this weekend with Maine Central Institute at Dexter, the league’s three undefeated teams play a round robin that will determine playoff seeding. This week’s MCI at Dexter game is followed next week by Orono at MCI. In two weeks, Dexter plays at Orono. Should one team sweep the other two, it will have the top seed all but wrapped up.

MCI is the two-time defending conference champion, and despite big losses to graduation, the Huskies were expected to contend this season. Dexter is a bit of a dark horse, and the 5-0 Tigers are off to their best start in decades.

Here’s a look at the MCI-Dexter matchup.

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Tiger Field, Dexter

MCI head coach Tom Bertrand on Dexter: “They’ve got some good athletes. Their quarterback is key to what they do offensively. They’ve got a couple good receivers and linemen who get on blocks and stay on blocks. You can tell they’re playing with some confidence offensively, and defensively, they’ve got that 4-4 going. They’ve got a little bit of that Bucksport thing going where they’ve got a lot of confidence. They’re flying around and hitting people. If you don’t get bodies on bodies and keep bodies on bodies, they’re going to make plays and make it a long day for you.”

Dexter co-head coach Andrew Shorey on MCI: “They’re very fundamentally sound, as always. They’re a solid team, all the way around.”

Keys for MCI:

• Take what is given.

Through the first month of the season, Dexter had the stingiest defense in the league, allowing just under a touchdown per game. The Huskies know Dexter is going to be able to take something away. With a number of talented skill position players, MCI needs to be able to find what is open and take advantage.

“We are so diverse, we’re not so stubborn to try to do whatever we want,” Bertrand said. “It’s a little bit of a chess game to figure out what that is.”

• Contain Braydon Miller.

Dexter’s quarterback, Miller, is throwing the ball as well as anybody in the league. Miller has completed 52 percent of his passes for 607 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. The Huskies need to pressure Miller and make sure he doesn’t have time to make decisions.

• Win in the trenches.

One of the reasons the Tigers have been so good on defense is their ability to win the battles at the line. Opposing offenses haven’t been able to gain yards because often they’ve had no hole in which to run.

“Offensively, we want to execute what we want to do and not allow them to get off blocks and destroy plays,” Bertrand said.

Keys for Dexter:

• Spread it around.

Dexter’s success through the air has come with Miller connecting primarily with three receivers: Zach White (12 catches, 269 yards, six touchdowns), Chandler Perkins (12 catches, 130 yards, two touchdowns) and Jason Campbell (five catches, 182 yards, four touchdowns). It’s tough to cover three guys on every play. If Miller continues to make the right reads, the Tigers can have success in the air.

“Offensively, we’re kind of clicking in the passing game,” Shorey said.

• Limit mistakes.

Turnovers and penalties will kill you in a close game. So will trying to do too much. Shorey and co-head coach Brian Salsbury have stressed focus to their team all week.

“Being disciplined on both sides of the ball is key,” Shorey said. “Do your job.”

• Pay attention to special teams.

No team in the conference is as good as MCI at taking momentum with a big special teams play. Last week, the Huskies struck big when Josh Buker returned three punts for touchdowns, effectively putting away Houlton without an offensive play.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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