The Winslow High School and Maine Central Institute football teams are 4-1, with each team’s loss coming to Wells. That’s not unusual. Nobody has beaten Wells since late in the 2016 regular season. It’s the aftermath of those losses that counts. Since falling 18-6 to Wells in Week 1, Winslow has been a juggernaut, outscoring its last four opponents 262-27. The Black Raiders learned from the loss to the Warriors and built from it.

MCI fell to 54-8 Wells last week at home. How the Huskies rebound from that game has yet to be seen, but with a tough opponent in Winslow, MCI can’t dwell on last week at all.

“It’s going to be a big game and a big challenge,” Winslow coach Mike Siviski said. “They’re a solid team. That’s why they’re 4-1.”

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

When: 7 tonight

Where: Alumni Field, Pittsfield

Three keys for Winslow:

  • Friend-ly containment.

MCI quarterback Ryan Friend is enjoying his best season since becoming the Huskies starter as a freshman in 2017. Friend has completed 57 percent of his passes (46 for 81) for 860 yards and 13 touchdowns with just two interceptions. Running the ball, Friend has 376 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Friend is the key to the Huskies offense, and Winslow knows it.

“You have to be concerned with Ryan Friend, with his feet and his arm,” Siviski said. “It would be nice to put a little pressure on him. He’s obviously the trigger man.”

  • Start fast.

In each of Winslow’s four straight wins, the Black Raiders have jumped to an insurmountable early lead. MCI is the best team Winslow has played since opening the season at Wells, and putting the out of reach in the first quarter is an unreasonable goal. But Winslow would benefit from an early lead, and make the Huskies play from behind.

  • Sharing the load.

Nine Black Raiders have rushed for touchdowns. Three players have caught at least a touchdown pass. Winslow has weapons and will use as many as possible to move the ball against MCI’s strong defense.

“They have various threats. They have two three good backs. They have two or three receivers who can make plays,” MCI coach Tom Bertrand said.

Three keys for MCI:

  • Short memory.

Last week’s loss to Wells was MCI’s most lopsided defeat since early in the 2012 season. The Huskies didn’t win a game that year, but then went on a run of six straight winning seasons, including two state titles. Current Huskies were in grade school in 2012. To them it’s ancient history.

Last week’s loss needs to be ancient history, too. the Wells-Winslow back-to-back is as tough a scheduling as you’ll find in Class C. MCI can’t afford to dwell on mistakes made last week, or they’ll apt to make them again against the Black Raiders.

Six starters missed last week’s game for violating team rules, and Bertrand said he expects them to be back this week. That will be a key to putting last week’s loss completely in the rear view mirror.

  • Get entrenched.

Both teams are strong on the line. MCI senior Isaac Bussell at guard and Harrison Sites at tackle are two players up front who can make a difference for the Huskies. Neither team can expect to win without strong line play.

Recent history.

We’ve all heard it, past success doesn’t guarantee future performance. MCI won the last two meetings with Winslow, in the regular season last season and in the regional semifinals in 2017. While the Huskies can’t go into this game expecting to win because they did before, they can look at what worked against the Black Raiders in the past and built off that.

In last season’s regular season win at Winslow, MCI had three long scoring drives that marched exclusively on the ground. The Huskies ran for 291 yards that day, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. In the 43-42 playoff win in 2017, the Huskies ran successfully in the second half after building a two touchdown lead, and that kept Winslow from having enough time to complete the rally. Two second half scoring drives ate more than five and six minutes, respectively.

That’s winning the battles up front, and Bertrand knows that’s the key again this time.

“We know it will be every bit a battle as those other games (against Winslow),” Bertrand said.

Travis Lazarczyk— 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 

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