When his team was reclassified into Class C this season, Maine Central Institute football coach Tom Bertrand began some preliminary scouting of his new league. One of the longtime powers in the conference, Winslow, might be rebuilding a bit, Bertrand was told. He dismissed the idea.

“We heard (Winslow) might be down a little bit this year. My comment to that is, a down year for Winslow is a good year for most of us,” Bertrand said.

Bertrand and the Huskies found out how good Winslow still is a couple weeks ago, when the Black Raiders beat MCI, 32-29, in the regular-season finale. Now, No. 6 MCI (5-4) gets another crack at No. 2 Winslow (8-1) in the Class C North semifinals.

Three other area teams also are in action in regional semifinals this weekend. In the Pine Tree Conference (Class B North), No. 1 Skowhegan (5-3) hosts No. 5 Brewer (5-4), while No. 2 Lawrence (5-3) hosts No. 6 Brunswick (2-7). In the Campbell Conference D (Class D South), No. 6 Winthrop/Monmouth (5-4) plays at No. 2 Madison/Carrabec (8-1).

Fans of old school football should enjoy the MCI-Winslow matchup.

“Our running game has been strong,” Winslow coach Mike Siviski said. “Their running game’s been strong too.”

Winslow’s Ryan Fredette ran for 218 yards in the first game against MCI, including a 97-yard touchdown run, but Fredette suffered a sprained ankle in last week’s win over Waterville and his status for Saturday’s game is questionable. While Fredette led the Black Raiders with 1,112 rushing yards in the regular season, Ben Dorval came through with 148 yards last week. Isaiah Goldsmith and Alex Demers also are strong running options for Winslow, which boasts a veteran line led by captain guards Chris Jacques and Andrew Beckwith.

MCI’s running attack is led by senior Adam Bertrand, who ran for 785 yards in the regular season, and added 169 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s quarterfinal win at Nokomis. Pedro Matos, who came on strong late in the regular season after recovering from injury, and fullback Seth Bussell give the Huskies depth in the backfield.

Defensively, Bussell and Bertrand lead the Huskies. Winslow’s defense is led by Beckwith and Hunter Campbell.

“We’re going to line up and play football and see if we can fix some mistakes we made against them. They’re a real good football team and we’re going to have to have our best game of the season,” Coach Bertrand said.

• Lawrence beat Brunswick, 23-20, late in the regular season, but the Bulldogs could be without a key player Friday night. Senior captain Tyler Larouche, a fullback/defensive end, suffered a knee injury in the regular-season finale two weeks ago, and is questionable for the game. The defending Class B state champion, Brunswick started the season with six consecutive losses before a win over Mt. Blue clinched a playoff spot. The Dragons are young, but are playing with confidence, coming off an upset win over Cony last week.

“Their players are, we feel, as skilled as any team in the tournament. We have to really play well to be able to finish them off,” Lawrence coach John Hersom said.

In past playoff meetings, Brunswick had success against Lawrence with the halfback pass. Last week the Dragons converted a pair of fake punts. Hersom said his team has to be ready for any trick play Brunswick throws its way.

“Teams have worked on things for sure, like we have, that we haven’t really displayed yet. We hope to have some things they haven’t seen. Certainly we’ll have some things we haven’t seen from them. That’s playoffs. We’ve just got to be ready,” Hersom said.

• Like Lawrence, Skowhegan earned a bye to the semifinals. The Indians opponent is Brewer, a team they did not face in the regular season. This game is a contrast in offensive styles. Led by quarterback Marcus Christopher and receivers Cam Barnes, Jon Bell and Sean Savage, Skowhegan has one of the top passing games in the state. On the other hand, Brewer is a quintessential wing-T offense. Backs Bryant and Andrew Kiley are dangerous in the run and pass game. Quarterback Cody Wood threw for 263 yards in last week’s 29-28 win at Messalonskee. The question for the Witches is, can they slow down the Skowhegan offense, which averages 41 points per game? Brewer will get its chances to score. Skowhegan also allows an average of 37 points per game. Brewer’s pass rush, led by Jacob McCluskey, will be key.

A win puts Skowhegan in the conference championship game for the first time since 2008.

• In the regular season, Madison dominated Winthrop/Monmouth, winning 47-8. That game was in mid-September, though, and both teams are much different now.

“They’re a very athletic team,” Madison coach Scott Franzose said of Winthrop/Monmouth. “Between (quarterback) Keegan Choate and kids like (Cameron) Gaghan and (Greg) Fay, they can spread the field, they make you play assignment football at times.”

Winthrop/Monmouth is coming off an impressive 20-13 win at No. 3 Lisbon. The Ramblers have a tough test in slowing down the Bulldogs offense. Madison has scored 40 or more points six times this season. The trio of backs Sean Whalen and Eric Wescott, and quarterback Evan Bess, give the Bulldogs three breakaway threats. Tackles Max Shibley and Matt Oliver lead an experienced Madison line.

As strong as Madison’s offense is, it’s defense has been equally impressive. The Bulldogs have allowed more than 20 points just twice this season. Against the Ramblers’ athletes, Franzose thinks defense will be the key.

“They’ll kind of dink and dunk you to death, so they’re very good at picking up positive gains and moving the chains,” Franzose said. “So they pose a challenge there, because they can spread the field as I said and make you account for everything.”

Staff writer Drew Bonifant contribute to this report.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM