Members of the Gardiner football team run onto its home Hoch Field before a Sept. 20, 2019 game against Hampden Academy. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Rain and the threat of more rain paused the high school spring sports schedule Tuesday. That’s fine. It gives us a chance to look ahead to a high school football season. Last week, Maine’s 2021 high school football season was unveiled. The schedule is another step toward normal, something to stoke anticipation of the first high school football games in Maine since the 2019 state championships.

There are 15 high school football teams in the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal’s central Maine coverage area. Here is one game for each team that fans can circle as a potential must-see game.

Cony: The Rams looked like one of the favorites going into a 2020 Pine Tree Conference season that didn’t happen. How will younger players perform after a season off? A game at Skowhegan in Week 1 will tell a lot.

Lawrence:: The Bulldogs played in three consecutive conference championship games from 2017 through 2019. A game at Class A juggernaut Thornton Academy in Week 6 will be a tough test down the stretch.

Messalonskee: The 2019 season was about growing and improvement for the Eagles. Did a year off stunt that growth, or give them time to take a deep breath and come back hard? A game against Class A Edward Little will give the Eagles an idea as to how far they’ve come.

Mt. Blue: The last time the Cougars played, they lost a PTC semifinal game at Lawrence. Mt. Blue opens the 2021 season at Lawrence. There’s such balance in the universe.

Skowhegan: Back in 2019, Skowhegan was the Team With No Nickname. Now they are River Hawks, and the freshmen who started on defense in 2019 give Skowhegan experience few teams have entering this season. A game against perennial contender Brunswick in Week 5 could be for top seed in the PTC playoffs.

Maine Central Institute: The Huskies and Leavitt met in the 2019 Class C state championship, with the Hornets taking a 30-24 win in the closest state game of the year. This would’ve been a must-see game in 2020, with Leavitt and MCI showcasing two of the best quarterbacks in the state, Leavitt’s Wyatt Hathaway and MCI’s Ryan Friend. Those two graduated, but this Week 1 game at Leavitt should still be a fun one.

Lawrence players console each other after they fell to Brunswick in the 2019 Pine Tree Conference Class B title game at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson

Nokomis: The Warriors defeated Fryeburg in the 2018 Class C state championship game, 13-12, the closest state game in recent years. Both teams took a step back in 2019 after graduating big senior classes. This rematch at Fryeburg in Week 7 will be a showcase of how much their young players have improved.

Winslow: It doesn’t matter if there’s been a year off, you can always consider the Black Raiders a contender in Class C North. Winslow hosts Wells in Week 5 for what should be a fantastic crossover game against one of the South’s powerhouses.

Gardiner: The Gardiner-Cony rivalry game is back to being an exhibition game this season, so we won’t select that. The Tigers play at York in Week 2 in what should be an interesting conference game.

Madison: Now that Class D is one statewide group of nine teams, teams will develop new rivalries. For the Bulldogs, we’ll go with an old rivalry that was starting to blossom a few season ago. Madison plays at Oak Hill in Week 4.

Oak Hill: The Raiders and Foxcroft Academy were two of the most successful teams in Class D over the last decade, but they managed to miss each other in state championship games. Oak Hill hosts the Ponies in week two.

Winthrop/Maranacook/Hall-Dale: The fun thing about this statewide Class D is seeing how the strong teams from the North and South fare against each other. The Rambler get a big test hosting Bucksport Week 1.

Waterville: The Purple Panthers would have made their 8-man football debut in 2020.. They make it now. None of Waterville’s traditional rivals are on the schedule, but old Class B foe Mt. Desert Island comes to Waterville in Week 6.

Maranacook: The Black Bears were one of the success stories of the inaugural 8-man season in 2019. In Week 2, Maranacook hosts onetime Class A wrecking ball Cheverus.

Mount View: Like Waterville, the Mustangs were going to make the move to 8-man football in 2020. Mount View is joined in the 8-man small school division by a few of its old friends in the Little Ten Conference. A game in Lincoln against Mattanawcook Academy in Week 4 could rekindle memories of when these teams met in the LTC playoffs a few season ago.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 

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