The Brunswick football team is 5-0 in the Pine Tree Conference. So is Cony. Normally, that would mean a late-season clash, with playoff seeding and potentially home field in the Class B North playoffs on the line.

Nope. Not this year. This year, for the first time since 2004, there’s no scheduled game between the Dragons and the Rams.

The parents and the fans, they definitely like to see those rivalry games played,” Brunswick coach Dan Cooper said. “People were pretty bumming down here that Cony wasn’t on the schedule.”

Those two teams aren’t alone. Cony doesn’t play another of its biggest rivals in Lawrence, and Brunswick doesn’t play another longstanding PTC rival and fellow contender in Mt. Blue.

It extends to the rest of the conference and beyond, as well. Mt. Blue doesn’t play Lawrence. Falmouth/Greely, which while just Falmouth had some tough contests with Biddeford each year in one of B South’s most exciting matchups, won’t play the Tigers this year.

The realignment before the season that caused Class A to shrink to eight teams and Class B to swell to 22 meant most teams had to play crossover games to get the numbers to balance out, and a few teams had to switch regions — Falmouth, which went toe-to-toe with Kennebunk, Marshwood and Biddeford at the top of B South in recent years, picked up Greely and moved to B North, severing those growing rivalries.

Lawrence, we’ve had some great regular-season games, some great playoff games, and same with Brunswick. We’ve developed quite a decent rivalry with the different styles,” Cony coach B.L. Lippert said. “To not play them, it just rings a little hollow. I guess I’d prefer to play them over just about anyone.”

The teams look forward to the rivalries, and as Lawrence coach John Hersom pointed out, so do the communities.

“We had quite a long history with Mt. Blue for many years, even before I got here. We certainly would love to continue to play them,” he said. “I’m sure both communities probably miss us not facing each other. It was several years ago where we didn’t face Skowhegan for two or three years in a row, and we heard from some community members during that time. I’m sure it’s similar.”

The positive was that some of the crossover games led to exciting matchups that before would have just been hypothetical and debate points. Class B power Marshwood and Class A juggernaut Thornton Academy got to meet, with the Golden Trojans edging out a 28-27 win. Kennebunk, an annual B South title contender, faced Class A titan Bonny Eagle, a 42-21 win for the Scots.

I like the crossover games with Class A, that’s awesome,” Cooper said. “We were pumped to play a Class A team (Edward Little). … It’s definitely good to see some new teams and go to some new places as well.”

Cooper said he can see the pros and cons both to the new matchups the crossover games allow for, and the traditional matchups teams could look forward to year after year.

“I think I was more excited to play the new teams,” he said. “Definitely, the new matchups between A and B are exciting and intriguing, but at the same point, you still want to keep those old rivalry games.”

Lippert acknowledged the value of the crossover games, noting that Marshwood-Thornton Academy was perhaps the most anticipated game of the season. He also pointed out that most of them, however, don’t approach that level of buzz.

“I think on the marquee matchup side of things, that adds a level of excitement,” he said. “But I think, in general, for our own schedule, I’d rather play Lawrence and Brunswick than an A crossover, given the traditions and the rivalries that we’ve established in the PTC B North. … I’d much rather play at Keyes Field in Fairfield than travel somewhere else to play a Class A team.”

When it comes to players, however, a different opponent can be an exciting change of pace.

“I think our kids like those challenges, and our coaching staff likes them as well,” Hersom said. “They like the challenge of facing a Class A school that has a good-standing football tradition. … I think it’s healthy, it’s enjoyable to take on a new opponent that you haven’t played before.”

Rivalries offer chances to settle scores that accumulate through years of high-stakes matchups, however, and players can be reluctant to see those opportunities go.

I think there’s an element of excitement whenever you play a new school,” Lippert said, “… but I think they’d rather play the traditional Brunswicks and Lawrences. We know them and have a history with them. I think they recognize that, and over the course of your career you get to know the kids in your class, so Caleb MacFarland knows Owen Richardson from Brunswick, and things like that.”

Another situational issue with the revamped schedule is playing out this season.

The big thing for me is … we can potentially lose out on the No. 1 seed because we don’t play (Cony),” Cooper said. “It’d be more bitter if we have to travel on the road and we’re undefeated in the playoffs, but so be it. We’ll take whatever comes. I like what they did with the schedule, and I’m happy to do it again next year.”

As for what’s better for the sport, Lippert acknowledged that the potential for top-tier crossover matchups, like Thornton Academy and Marshwood, is a tempting one.

“I guess for the average fan, you’d want to see some crossover matchups that maybe could be set up to entice people,” Lippert said.

Hersom agreed, though acknowledged a soft spot for the more traditional showdowns.

“Sometimes change can be good,” he said. “I do really miss the excitement that the two communities get behind their schools when they have a long-standing tradition of playing each other. I do miss that atmosphere.”

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