Members of the Gardiner football team work through some drills during an Aug. 19 practice in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Break out your favorite school colors, save up for concession stand money and practice your school’s fight song. High school football is here again.

And just like in recent years, this fall promises yet another run of old school rivalries and brand new matchups that fans young and old alike can appreciate.

Here’s a week-by-week look at some of the biggest matchups scheduled for central Maine teams as the 2022 season kicks off Friday night:


Week 1 (Sept. 1-3)

Skowhegan at Lawrence, Keyes Field, Fairfield: You never want to put too much stock into a Week 1 game, but both teams are the early favorites in Class B North. The Bulldogs fell to Windham in the B North title game last season, and return a Fitzpatrick Trophy candidate in running back/linebacker Parker Higgins, who rushed for over 1,500 yards last season, 1,123 of which came in the final five games of the season. The River Hawks finished 5-5 last year, but were ranked No. 1 in B North by nine out of the 10 coaches in the conference. They lost by only one point to Windham in the semifinal round. Though it’s early, this game could decide the immediate favorite of the conference.


Foxcroft Academy at Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale, Maxwell Field, Winthrop: The rematch of last year’s Class D final comes early. It was the Ponies who topped the Ramblers 19-16 in the title game last November in Bangor. But this time, the matchup heads to Winthrop. Though the Ramblers have lost some key players, they return talent in running back Dominic Trott, eight returners on defense, and a bad taste in their mouths that’s lasted 10 months.


Week 2 (Sept. 8-10)

Lawrence at Windham, Windham High School: The schedule doesn’t get easier here for the Bulldogs, who must travel south to take on the defending B North champions. Lawrence and Windham battled to overtime in the regional final last year. Though the Eagles graduated some top talent, they return Haddon Boyle, who rushed for over 900 yards last year.

Massabesic at Cony, Fuller Field, Augusta: The home opener for the Rams comes against a brand new opponent (for them) in Massabesic, in a cross-Class B matchup. A former Class A South power, the Mustangs have fallen on some hard times over the past decade, but are now led by head coach Lucas Labbe, who started at middle linebacker for the program’s only Class A title in 2000. Cony has seen a resurgence in numbers this fall and will be leading an offensive attack with two quarterbacks, Davyn Flynn and Dom Napolitano. This should be an exciting matchup of two foreign opponents.

Belfast at Gardiner, Hoch Field, Gardiner: The Tigers have been waiting for multiple years to finally host a game at Hoch Field. They couldn’t in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and they couldn’t play on it last year due to the installation of the new artificial turf. But that all changes Sept. 9, when they take on the Lions in a Class B-C showdown, and the hometown crowd should be out in full force.



Week 3 (Sept. 15-17)

Cony at Skowhegan, Clark Memorial Field, Skowhegan: The B North race continues, highlighted by this matchup. The Rams and River Hawks battled in the season opener last year in Augusta, a game Cony won 36-35. There’s plenty of reason to believe another back-and-forth can happen in this rematch.


Gardiner Area High School football coach Pat Munzig calls in a play during an Aug. 22 preseason scrimmage against Oak Hill in Wales. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal


Week 4 (Sept. 22-24)


Winslow at Mt. Blue, Caldwell Field, Farmington: There’s potential for this to be an excellent Class B-C clash. The Cougars are trying to find their footing under new head coach Matt Friedman, but have talent in the backfield, which includes quarterback Jayden Meader. Winslow will always be Winslow, pounding defenses with the run game until they submit. Expect a heavy load for running back Matt Quirion in this one.

Windham at Cony, Fuller Field, Augusta: The Rams get their chance against the defending B North champions, with the home field advantage.


Week 5 (Sept. 30-Oct. 1)

Lawrence at Leavitt, Libby Field, Turner: One of the top programs in Class B meets one of the top in Class C. The Hornets have been a model of consistency over the years under head coach Mike Hathaway. The Lawrence defense will have a challenge against dual-threat quarterback Noah Carpenter. Leavitt’s defense has a challenge of its own trying to stop Parker Higgins.

Winslow at Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale, Maxwell Field, Winthrop: Two teams that reached the state final a year ago get to meet in this C-D clash. Both teams play a tough, physical style, on both sides of the ball.


Maranacook at Old Orchard Beach, Joe Regina Field, Old Orchard Beach: Two of the heavyweights of the eight-man Small School division meet with what could be a pivotal showdown. The Black Bears rolled to a 56-28 win over the Seagulls in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs last year. But don’t let the score fool you; OOB has been a tough competitor in eight-man since its beginning. If the score is close, don’t count out OOB head coach Dean Plante pulling out a trick play (or three) if the situation calls for it.


Week 6 (Oct. 6-8)

Cony at Messalonskee, Veterans Field, Oakland: With where this matchup is on the schedule, it’s fair to say this game could be deciding playoff seeding in the B North ranks. Cony won last year’s meeting, 23-14. This is an excellent test for the Eagles to see where they stand in October.

Morse at Waterville, Drummond Field, Waterville: These teams had a classic battle in the eight-man Large semifinals last year, with the Purple Panthers pulling out a 22-20 victory. Waterville no longer has Liam Von Oesen, its Fitzpatrick Trophy semifinalist a year ago, but returns plenty of talent on offense, including wide receiver Spencer Minihan. The Shipbuilders will no doubt have revenge on their minds in this one.



Gardiner football players work out during an Aug. 19 practice in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal


Week 7 (Oct. 13-15)

Cony at Gardiner, Hoch Field, Gardiner: With the Tigers moving from B South to B North this season, central Maine regains one of its best — and oldest, dating back to 1892 — rivalries. This will be the 144th edition, if you are keeping score at home, and Cony currently has 76-58-10 advantage. The two teams met in a preseason game last year, with Cony picking up a 40-6 victory. The Rams will enter this game as the favorite, but never count out the Tigers in this rivalry, especially with the home field advantage at Hoch Field.


Week 8 (Oct. 21-22)

Skowhegan at Windham, Windham High School: If the River Hawks are meeting expectations during the regular season, this may very well decide the top of the B North standings. It was a defensive battle between Skowhegan and Windham in its last meeting, one that ended in a 7-6 win for the Eagles. Count on some more points being put up on the scoreboard in this one.


Week 9 (Oct. 28-29)

Lisbon at Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale: The Greyhounds knocked the Ramblers out of the Class D playoffs two years ago. Neither team met in the regular season or playoffs last year, so this could be a chance for some veteran Ramblers to exact revenge on Lisbon before the start of the playoffs.

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