Brunswick’s Nate Girardin is taken down by Cony’s Tommy Hodgkins and Matt Wozniak during an October 19 game in Brunswick. Due to unplayable conditions at Alumni Field in Augusta, the Rams are forced to play Friday night’s Class B North semifinal in Lewiston. File photo by Jennifer Bechard

Home playoff games aren’t what they used to be. Not this season, and not for a few teams around the state.

Bad weather over the last couple weeks led to worse field conditions at a few schools, meaning a few teams will play home games at neutral site fields artificial surfaces. Cony (7-1), the No. 2 seed in the Pine Tree Conference Class B playoffs, will host No. 3 Brunswick (6-3) at Lewiston High School. Instead of a short walk across a parking lot to the field from the locker room, the Rams now have a 35-mile bus ride, approximately 15 miles longer than the bus ride for the “visiting” Dragons.

“As far as playing in Lewiston, it’s definitely not ideal. Playing the whole regular season to earn a bye generally means you get a significant home field advantage in the playoffs,” Cony coach BL Lippert said. “That’s obviously not the case for us with our decision to move it to Lewiston. Although, calling it a ‘decision’ is really a misnomer. We had no choice, the field is literally unplayable.”

With more heavy rain in the forecast for Friday and Saturday, more teams must grapple with the decision: play, move, or postpone? In Class D South, No. 5 Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale (5-4) was set to play at No. 1 Wells (9-0) Thursday night. In Class C North, No. 2 Hermon (8-1) will host No. 3 Winslow (6-3) Friday night at Husson University in Bangor.

The Winslow-Hermon matchup is one of just two playoff games this weekend that is not a rematch from the regular season. The other is in Class B South, where No. 4 Greely (5-4) plays at No. 1 Kennebunk (9-0), which will be played Saturday at 3 p.m. at Biddeford’s Waterhouse Field.

Other area playoff games include, in Class B North, No. 4 Lawrence (5-4) at No. 1 Skowhegan (5-3); in Class C North, No. 4 Nokomis (5-4) at No. 1 Maine Central Institute (8-1); in Class C South, No. 3 Gardiner (4-5) at No. 2 Fryeburg (8-1); and Class D South, No. 7 Oak Hill (4-5) at No. 6 Madison (5-4).

For Winslow, stopping Hermon starts with stopping quarterback Garrett Trask, who accounted for 1,793 yards (1,095 passing, 698 rushing) in the regular season, along with 26 touchdowns.

“(Trask’s) run all over everybody all year. We have to contain him. He’s the best scrambler I’ve seen in a long time,” Winslow coach Mike Siviski said.

With weapons like receivers Keith Pomeroy and Wyatt Gogan, and backs River Mullen and Zach Tubbs, the Hawks averaged just under 36 points per game in the regular season.

“They’ll be a handful. They’re not the top scoring team in our league for nothing,” Siviski said.

Winslow counters with a strong running game led by Ben Dorval, whose 193 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s regional quarterfinal win over Waterville gave him 962 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns on the season. Isaiah Goldsmith, Alex Demers, and Rob Clark also are proven runners for the Black Raiders.

Winslow receiver Marek Widerynski catches a touchdown pass in front of Waterville defender Anthony Singh during a Class C North quarterfinal game last week in Winslow. The Black Raiders meet Hermon in the semifinals Friday night at Husson University in Bangor. File photo by Jennifer Bechard

Nokomis gave MCI a scare in the regular season finale two weeks, fighting back from a 21-point second quarter deficit to send the game to overtime before MCI earned a 24-21 win. Nokomis coach Jake Rogers said his team has to be ready to see sets and plays from the Huskies that it didn’t see in the first game. Rogers pointed to last season’s playoff loss to MCI as an example.

“In the playoff game last year they ran a lot of wishbone at us,” Rogers said. “We’re certainly expecting different things offensively and defensively.”

Cony took a 30-6 win over Brunswick in the regular season finale, but Lippert cautions anybody who thinks the Rams can easily cruise past the Dragons again.

“Brunswick has a number of explosive athletes who can take it the distance at any time, so that is hard to prepare for. Defensively, they are physical, bring pressure and have one of the better secondaries in the league, so there is no clear blueprint of how to attack them,” Lippert said.

When Skowhegan and Lawrence played three weeks ago in Fairfield, Lawrence used a strong running game to pull away late for a 44-26 win. The same can be said in regards to Madison’s 47-34 win over Oak Hill in late September. Oak Hill led 27-21 late in the third quarter, before the Bulldogs scored three consecutive touchdowns to take control of the game.

Gardiner will look to build on the strong running game it showcased last week against Morse when it travels to Fryeburg to face a team that took the first meeting 36-6. Nate Malinowski ran for 381 yards and three touchdowns last week for the Tigers. While it’s foolish to expect anything close to that output, if Gardiner can grind out drives it can have a chance.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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