The playoff positioning in the Pine Tree Conference Class B division is so close, with so many possible outcomes, it’s best to let this week’s games play out rather than guess at the finish. Letting things play out is the norm at Lawrence, where coach John Hersom will concern himself with playoff position once it’s settled.

“In my tenure at Lawrence, we’ve never really spoken that much about playoffs and scenarios and where we might fall,” Hersom said. “We go to work every day and worry about what we can control.”

When Lawrence (4-3) hosts rival Messalonskee (4-3) Friday night in the regular season finale, both teams can control their own destiny, to a point. The winner of this game will assuredly be home for the first round of the playoffs, and could earn a bye to the semifinals.

Here’s a look at the Messalonskee-Lawrence matchup:

When: 7 tonight

Where: Keyes Field, Fairfield.

Messalonskee coach Brad Bishop on Lawrence: “They’re similar to us offensively and defensively. They work hard are fundamentally solid. They do some things very well.”

Lawrence coach John Hersom on Messalonskee: “We realize they’re a very good running team, one of the best in our conference. We’re really focusing on their blocking schemes, and not worrying about the backs they have. We realize they’re all very good.”

Three keys for Messalonskee:

• Cut down the penalties.

Too many penalties slowed or completely stalled Messalonskee drives in last week’s 27-17 loss to Cony. Against another good team, that can’t happen, coach Brad Bishop said.

“Second and three to second and eight makes a huge difference,” Bishop said.

• Learn on the job.

Injuries continue to be a concern for the Eagles, especially on the offensive line. At this point in the season, there is little time to teach new roles to new players. Messalonskee’s rebuilt line needs to come together as quick as possible.

“We’re still flip-flopping guys on the line because of injuries,” Bishop said. “We’ve got to focus on playing good football.”

• Be ready for anything.

Last week, Lawrence amassed 587 yards of offense, with 201 of that coming in the air. Quarterback Braden Ballard connected with five receivers. That, along with Lawrence’s strong running game, gives Messalonskee’s defense a lot to think about.

Three keys for Lawrence:

• Short memory

The Bulldogs gave up a season-high 58 points in last week’s 58-56 loss to Skowhegan. Lawrence can’t let any residual concerns from that game linger.

“We want to put that game behind us. That game needs to be over with. We need to be recharged and focus on the new challenge. Emotionally I think we’ll be ready,” Hersom said.

• Stay balanced.

The Bulldogs offense continues to improve, with more players becoming key weapons. For Lawrence, that trend needs to continue.

“Our motto has been, each week we want to get better. We’re getting more kids involved. Our throwing game is getting back to where we hoped it would be,” Hersom said.

• No extra yards.

Messalonskee’s trio of strong running backs, Austin Pelletier, Tyler Lewis, and Alden Balboni, are going to get yards. Being in position to make the tackle, then preventing yards after initial contact, is huge for the Bulldogs, who want to keep the Eagles in third and fourth and long situations.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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