If you think this is the season that Pine Tree Conference Class B teams stop beating each other up and a clear favorite will pull away from the pack early, think again. Last season, Skowhegan, Lawrence and Cony tied for the league’s best regular-season record at 5-3. With every team looking to fill holes caused by graduation, even the favorites have flaws.

“I kind of expect a similar outcome,” Skowhegan coach Ryan Libby said.

Skowhegan, Lawrence and Cony should once again contend for the PTC B title, and improved teams at Mt. Blue and Brunswick could make playoff pushes.

For defending champ Skowhegan, the return of Marcus Christopher at quarterback is a gigantic plus. As a junior last season, Christopher threw for more than 3,000 yards, with 39 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The problem for the Indians is that Christopher’s three favorite targets graduated.

Jon Bell, Cam Barnes and Sean Savage accounted for slightly more than 70 percent of Skowhegan’s receiving yards last season. Colby Miller, who caught eight touchdowns in the regular season, is the lone returning varsity wideout.

“Having Marcus back skill-wise and knowledge-wise is huge. We have a lot of the offensive line back. It’s really been a focus on getting Marcus to jell with these receivers,” Libby said.

Spencer Wyman, Ryan Savage and Nick Fennell will step into the big shoes at wideout. Hunter Washburn is a threat out of the backfield, and seniors Jake Swenson, Jamal Durant and Kobe Houghton lead the offensive line.

Where Skowhegan needs to show considerable improvement is on defense. The Indians allowed an average of 34 points per game last season, giving up at least 50 points five times. Even with what should be a potent offense again, that can’t continue. Libby expects junior linebacker Zeb Tibbetts, who gained experience as a sophomore last season, to make an impact.

“It will be hard for us to maintain 50-point shootouts like we did last year,” Libby said.

Last season’s runnerup, Lawrence needs to replace graduated Braden Ballard at quarterback. A deep group at running back should help either sophomore Dylan Coombs or junior Nate Bickford ease into the position. Isaiah Schooler and Kyle Carpenter lead the Bulldogs’ backs, while Alex Higgins moves from the offensive line to fullback. While much of the line is inexperienced, Logan Fortin is a three-year starter at tight end.

Lawrence has depth on the defensive line, with seniors Dean Douglas, Kaleb Anderson and Justin Trott in the interior, while Higgins and Carpenter are on the ends. Fortin returns at linebacker.

“Defensively, we hope we can improve leaps and bounds. We’re hoping to make a big step forward,” Lawrence coach John Hersom said. “We had some high-scoring games (allowed). That’s not what we are.”

Cony enjoyed a strong season last fall, and an upset loss in the conference quarterfinals hasn’t dimmed the notion that this could be a special season for the Rams. The biggest reason is the defense, which became one of the PTC’s best units last year and returns key players at each level. The line should be among the best in the league, with standouts in end Nic Mills and tackle Mitch MacFarland.

“That’s probably the strength of our team, is our front seven or eight defensively,” coach B.L. Lippert said. “That’s extremely rare at Cony. We haven’t had a lot of success stopping the run.”

That talent and continuity on the defensive line translates to the offensive line, which will be Cony’s strength on the other side of the ball with six players coming back that have started multiple games. The key for the Rams will be finding replacements for talented playmakers in Jordan Roddy and Eli Dutil. Receivers Reed Hopkins and Mike and Matt Wozniak are possibilities, and either Mike Wozniak or Dakota Andow will take over at quarterback.

“We’ve had some Fitzpatrick (Trophy) caliber players in our program the last four or five years,” Lippert said. “We maybe don’t have one of those necessarily on paper, and it’s interesting, I think that will make us a little more balanced offensively.”

Mt. Blue is now in its second season with coach Nate Quirion. The Cougars went 1-7 last year, but Quirion said he expects improvement and fundamentally sound football this season.

“Our biggest goal is to develop our leadership so that we can handle any adversity that comes our way. Our goal is to take the next step as a program and be a playoff team,” Quirion said.

Seniors Caleb Young (wide receiver/linebacker), Kile Heikkinen (wide receiver/strong safety) and Noah Bell (quarterback) will lead the team. Newcomer Kevon Johnson has the potential to be a playmaker at tailback, Quirion said.

At Messalonskee, numbers are low after the graduation of a talented senior class. The Eagles have just 17 players in grades 10-12, and depth is a concern.

“We’ve got some skill. We’ve just got to develop. The kids are feeling their way through,” coach Brad Bishop said.

Deklan Thurston is back at quarterback for Messalonskee. Fullback Cam Goff could become the running game’s workhorse.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.