If you’re looking for a smash mouth high school football game to attend Friday, cross Mt. Blue at Skowhegan off your list.

Both teams will run, that’s not up for debate, but they will do it by spreading things out and using every inch of Skowhegan’s Clark Field when they meet for their annual end of the regular season rivalry game.

“They’re like a mirror image of us. What they do is very similar to what we do,” Mt. Blue coach Scott Franzose said.

Both Mt. Blue (5-2) and Skowhegan (3-4) are heading to the Pine Tree Conference Class B playoffs next week, but this game will determine seeding for each.

“I haven’t done all the math,” Skowhegan coach Ryan Libby said. “We’ll play and see what happens.”

Added Franzose: “This is as gigantic game for them as it is for us.”

Here’s a look at how Mt. Blue and Skowhegan match up:

When: 7 tonight

Where: Clark Field, Skowhegan

Three keys for Mt. Blue:

  • Eliminate the comfort zone.

Since week three, Skowhegan’s offense has been more and more adept, averaging just over 36 points per game in its last five games and scoring at least 20 points in each to improve to 3-4 after an 0-3 start. Mt. Blue’s pass rush has been exceptional in recent games, and it needs to play at a high level again.

“(Quarterback) Cam Green is settling in and getting comfortable. They stand out in a lot of areas,” Franzose said. “They like to throw quick screens, and Cam has a very strong arm.”

  • (D)-line it up.

Mt. Blue’s defensive line — Haisen Foster, Eddie Hebert, James Archer, and Zack Delano — set the tone in recent wins, controlling the line of scrimmage and helping the Cougars hold two of their last three opponents under 100 yards rushing. The line is just a piece of a defense that has shown improvement all season in its 4-2-5 base formation, Franzose said.

“They’re more and more confident as a unit. Really, as a group, they’re getting confident with the new system,” Franzose said.

  • Everybody contributes.

In last week’s win over Class A Edward Little, quarterback Hunter Meeks threw four touchdown passes and ran for two scores. The week before in a win over Gardiner, Kevon Johnson ran for three touchdowns. Caleb Haines and Kyle Fox also have had big games for the Cougars. Mt. Blue has a lot of weapons and averages just over 38 points per game. Use everybody and give Skowhegan’s defense a lot to think about.

Three keys for Skowhegan:

  • Continued defensive growth.

Skowhegan has used a number of underclassmen on the defensive side of the ball. Growing pains early have stopped, and Skowhegan has consistently made stops in recent games. Mt. Blue’s offense presents a challenge that will test Skowhegan as it prepares to move on to the playoffs next week. The key to improvement is keeping things simple, Libby said.

“It’s amazing. We have a lot of young kids on the team, but they’re super aggressive. They have a nose for the football and have been working together,” Libby said. “We keep things simple and just let them play.”

  • The Meeks can’t inherit the earth.

Mt. Blue quarterback Hunter Meeks is the kind of dual threat that has thrived in Franzose’s offenses at Madison in recent seasons. Mt. Blue treats the quarterback position as another running back, albeit one who can sling the ball down the field, too. It will be difficult, but Skowhegan needs to contain Meeks as much as possible. The Cougars offense flows through him.

“I’m impressed at how well those kids have bought into the system,” Libby said of Mt. Blue’s adapting to the new offense. “They’re much better than they were in week one.”

  • Tow the line.

Skowhegan’s offensive line got a boost in recent weeks with the return of guard Kenoa Bishop and tackle Josh Brown from injury. Still running the spread, Skowhegan is more inclined to lean on running back Mason Fitzgerald than recent teams that threw the ball more. A healthy line only makes that task easier.

“Our offense has been pass-heavy the last four years with the wide receivers and quarterbacks we’ve had,” Libby said.

With Green getting more comfortable reading defenses, Skowhegan can still throw. They key is, it doesn’t feel it has to.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM 

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