It was one of the first moments of Joe White’s head coaching experience. And the Gardiner head man remembers it well.

The Tigers were taking on Cape Elizabeth in a scrimmage in 2015, and the Capers were making it a long afternoon for White and his players.

“We were kind of all over the place, trying to figure out what worked,” White said. “And (Cape) brought that wing T in and ran all over us.”

It wasn’t the last meeting between the teams. Despite their belonging to Class B and C, respectively, Gardiner and Cape Elizabeth met for a scrimmage the next season as well. And this time, with both teams in C South, they’ll meet for real.

“I’m pretty good friends with Joe, and so even though they’ve never been in our league, there are a couple different ways that we’re familiar with them,” Capers coach Aaron Filieo said. “They have a proud tradition of football in that community, and the kids obviously take a lot of pride in playing football there.”

That pride surged when, after a stretch of seasons struggling in Class B, the Tigers moved to Class C for this season, giving the players a jolt of confidence in their playoff chances. That energy was evident in their opener, a 26-6 win over Morse in which the Tigers were the faster, smarter and more physical team.

But a tougher challenge awaits in Cape Elizabeth, which went 10-1 last year and pummeled Yarmouth, 48-0, last week. Class C offers few teams better than the Capers, so a strong showing would validate the Tigers’ belief that they’re a contender in the state picture.

White acknowledged as much. He said that there’s plenty of season left after Saturday night for Gardiner to show the kind of team it is, but that this game will give him a pretty good idea of where it stands so far.

“It’s going to be a really good matchup,” he said. “It’s going to, I think, determine a lot as far as what our status can be in our division. … We’d like to match up well, and I think we will.”

Here’s a look at the Cape Elizabeth-Gardiner matchup:

Where: Hoch Field, Gardiner

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Gardiner coach White on Cape Elizabeth: “I know that they’re well-coached. … They execute well, they don’t make a lot of mistakes and they typically have your prototypical best athletes, whether it’s skill or on the line. Those guys have great technique.”

Cape Elizabeth coach Filieo on Gardiner: “This year’s team has got some speed and quickness, and some athletes out there, kids that like to fly around. Good lefty quarterback, a nice big, tall tight end, basketball-type tight end. They played inspired against Morse last Friday night.”

Three keys for Cape Elizabeth:

• Do what you do.

The Capers run a wing T and a spread offense, and they do it well. When you’re coming off both a successful season and a dominant opening week showing, it’s not the time to get cute with offensive formations. Lean on the strong offensive line and powerful backfield combination of Jack Glanville and Ryan Weare and force Gardiner to find a way to stop it.

• Be ready for speed and power.

Nobody in a Tigers uniform is going to run 25 times. Gardiner switches it up, and goes from power in Nate Malinowski to speed in Collin Foye to a mix of both in Cam Michaud, in any order. Cape Elizabeth will need to be ready to adapt to a different running style every possession.

• Start fast.

Gardiner is coming off a big win and an emotional week, and will be playing in front of its home fans for the first time this season. Let the Tigers hang around, and they’ll be tougher to put away. Take a 14-0 lead, however, and those advantages become muted.

Three keys for Gardiner

• Post up.

Gardiner excelled in the red zone against Morse, due in large part to the presence of Patrick Pelletier, who caught two touchdowns. Few teams will be able to duel the 6-foot-7 tight end for jump balls, particularly in the end zone. If the Tigers get deep in Cape territory, Pelletier could be a weapon.

• Be special on special teams.

The Tigers won the special teams battle against Morse, jarring the ball loose on a punt return to set up a short drive and touchdown, and setting up another touchdown with a long return on a safety kickoff. If Gardiner keeps up its physical, aggressive play on special teams and kick coverage, it could make the play or two that turns the game.

• Handle Glanville.

Glanville, Cape Elizabeth’s hard-running halfback, had 118 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone against Yarmouth last week. The Clippers had no chance of stopping him, and therefore no chance of stopping the Capers. For the Tigers to emerge with the win, Glanville can’t be permitted to run free.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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