Lawrence running back Parker Higgins (32) rushes for a first down and more against Messalonskee during a Class B North quarterfinal football game Friday in Fairfield. The Bulldogs play Cony in the semifinal round Friday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

There’s a feeling of familiarity to this weekend’s playoff football slate.

There are seven matchups involving area teams, and all seven are rematches of games from earlier in the season. In Class B North, No. 2 Cony hosts No. 3 Lawrence and No. 1 Windham welcomes No. 4 Skowhegan. In C North, No. 6 MCI travels to face No. 2 Winslow, while in Class D No. 2 Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale hosts No. 7 Bucksport and No. 4 Oak Hill hosts No. 5 Lisbon.

In the eight-man playoffs, No. 1 Waterville takes on No. 2 Morse in the large school north final, and No. 5 Maranacook plays No. 2 Dirigo in the final of the small school division’s southern region.

All the teams have seen each other, but that doesn’t mean they’re all expecting the same game. Cony beat Lawrence 28-14 on Oct. 15, but in that game the Rams had to turn to their third-string quarterback and the Bulldogs had to go with a freshman behind center after starter Andrew Trombley went down. Now Cony, with quarterback James Presti and running back Aidan Coulombe back, and Lawrence, with Trombley and fullback and twin brother Matt Trombley likely back, are operating at full speed or close to it.

“It’s hard to glean too much from that final result because it just came down to guys in new roles making some plays,” Cony coach B.L. Lippert said. “When we looked in preseason at a Cony-Lawrence matchup, this is probably what we (saw) more of.”

Both teams know what the other wants to do. With Presti and Coulombe in place, Cony can go back and forth between being pass-heavy and run-heavy. And with both Trombleys running alongside Parker Higgins, who had 225 rushing yards against the Rams in October, Lawrence features multiple options that can be hard to stop.

Winslow running back Matt Quirion (33) gets hit at the line of scrimmage by Wells’ Ethan Hayes (63) during a football game earlier this season in Winslow. The Black Raiders host MCI in the Class C North semifinals on Saturday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“They really test you … It’s not a run game that’s predictable by formation or by motion,” Lippert said. “You really have to be sound and play your responsibilities. That’s challenging, at the high school level and any level. It’s hard to be disciplined for 50, 60, 70 plays.”

Skowhegan, on the other hand, knows exactly what to take from its first game with Windham as it aims to hand the Eagles their first loss. The River Hawks committed four turnovers, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

“We need to do a much better job with the turnover battle,” coach Ryan Libby said. “Windham is as good as people say they are, so you can’t give them the ball four times, one of them being a pick-six, and expect to overcome that every time.”

Turnovers aside, Skowhegan measured up well with Windham, holding the Eagles’ powerful offense to 14 points.

“The defense we thought was pretty good, so we’d like to continue and build off that,” Libby said. “Our big key is we need to get our offense going. We had some success running the ball at times … (but) we did not throw the ball overly well, so we’d like to see an improvement there.”

In Class C, Winslow thumped MCI in their first matchup, winning handily 44-8, but the Black Raiders will be seeing a different Huskies team as well. MCI made a mid-season switch to Max Bottenfield at quarterback and has been seeing improvements in the offense, and last week he threw for 436 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Huskies to a comeback 49-46 win over Belfast.

MCI will need answers on defense, however. Winslow’s Matt Quirion ran for 145 yards and Evan Bourget churned out 129 yards on the ground in the first game, and the Black Raiders are surging after taking down Old Town 30-6.

Maranacook’s Thomas Struck gets forced out of bounds by Telstar’s Brayden Stevens during Saturday’s game in Bethel. The Black Bears play Dirigo this weekend. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

In Class D, Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale gets Bucksport again after defeating the Golden Bucks 41-20. The Ramblers rushed for 271 yards in that win, led by Dom Trott (158 yards) and Logan Baird (76), but they’ll be in action for the first time in 15 days after COVID protocols forced them to cancel their finale against Oak Hill. Rustiness could be an obstacle early.

Oak Hill defeated Lisbon 24-13 on Sept. 18, the first of four straight wins that helped the Raiders get into position to host a playoff game. The Raiders have been led all season by the running of Caden Thompson, and the senior had two touchdowns to help down the Greyhounds earlier. Like the Ramblers, however, Oak Hill has been out of action, and it’ll need a fast start to stay in front of a Lisbon team that, after scuffling early, has won three straight.

In eight-man football, Waterville is hoping for more of the same after beating Morse 58-48 on Oct. 15. The Shipbuilders will need an answer for Purple Panthers quarterback Liam Von Oesen, who ran for 316 yards and five touchdowns in that matchup. Waterville showed there’s no carry limit for the talented senior, as Von Oesen carried the ball 40 times for 289 yards in last week’s 50-40 win over MDI.

Maranacook fell to Dirigo 30-14 in its first game on Sept. 17, but the Black Bears are in much better position now than they were. Quarterback Chris Reid missed that game but has been shining in the postseason, and Owen Dunn, pressed into quarterback duty in September, has found a perfect role at running back. If Maranacook can better limit Dirigo’s offense, specifically the connection between Charlie Houghton and Trenton Hutchinson, it could find itself in the small school final.

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