Winslow’s Colby Pomeroy (3) pitches the ball to Ben Dorval (41) against Lawrence last week in Winslow.

The last time Maine Central Institute and Winslow played football against each other, it was one of the best playoff games of the 2017 season. MCI took a 43-42 win at Winslow’s Poulin Field, the first of three straight wins over a team that had beaten the Huskies in the regular season, on the way to the Class C state title.

Now, they play again at Poulin Field Saturday afternoon. While the game doesn’t carry the stakes of a playoff game, it will go a long way towards determining playoff position for both teams.

Since losing opening night in a non-conference game at Leavitt, MCI (4-1) has won four games in a row, three via shutout, to move into first place in the Class C North Heal Point standings. Winslow (3-2) lost a pair of close non-conference games when opponents Gardiner and Lawrence scored in the final seconds to take the lead.

“We should be challenged (by MCI),” Winslow coach Mike Siviski said. “We’ll fine out where we’re at.”

Here’s a closer look at the MCI-Winslow matchup:

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Poulin Field, Winslow

MCI coach Tom Bertrand on Winslow: “They’re Winslow. They’re hard-nosed. They run the ball very well. Defensively, they’re solid and sound. They’ve got real good athletes.”

Winslow coach Mike Siviski on MCI: “We’re very, very impressed with them. Obviously, the record they’ve achieved is from being a very well-rounded team. They’re versatile.”

Three keys for MCI

• Protect the football.

When the Huskies beat contender Hermon two weeks ago, they were able to overcome turnovers. Against Winslow, MCI knows it can’t count on getting out of those situations again.

“We’ve got to hold on to the football, and not be giving them more opportunities,” MCI coach Tom Bertrand said.

• No letups on third down.

Again, looking at MCI’s key win over Hermon, the Huskies did a nice job preventing the Hawks from converting on third down. Hermon was just 4 for 11 on third downs. Getting Winslow’s offense off the field is pivotal, and that leads into the next point.

• Limit long drives.

With running backs Ben Dorval, Alex Demers, and Isaiah Goldsmith, as well as quarterback Colby Pomeroy, the Black Raiders have the skill players to grind out long drives, and suddenly, a half a quarter is gone.

“They’ve got a lot of weapons. They can grind you down pretty well,” Bertrand said.

Winslow’s Nathan Newgard (84) tackles Lawrence’s Isaiah Schooler last week in Winslow.

Three keys for Winslow:

• Control the line of scrimmage.

That won’t be easy. MCI’s offensive line has been dominant. In the Hermon win, the Huskies ran the ball 45 consecutive plays, and the Hawks had no answer.

“Their interior line, they do a great job of holding blocks relentlessly,” Siviski said.

• Go to the air.

While Winslow strength is its ground game, the Black Raiders can throw, too. Quarterback Colby Pomeroy has completed 72 percent of his passes (28 of 39) for 346 yards and five touchdowns. If the Huskies have the line of scrimmage bottled up, go over it.

• Expect anything.

When these teams met in the playoffs last season, the Huskies ran a successful wide receiver pass for a 60 yard touchdown in the first quarter. Late in the third, after Winslow had cut a 14-point deficit to three, MCI extended a drive with a 21 yard pass on a fake punt. The Huskies scored four plays later. From that experience, the Black Raiders know MCI is unafraid to defy convention and take a chance. Winslow can’t over think every play, but it has to be ready for anything, too.

“You have to consider that,” Siviski said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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