Winslow running back Matt Quirion (33) is dragged to the turf by Old Town defender Davon Alston and Terrell Hood (54) during a football game Sept. 3 in Winslow. Quirion returned from a wrist injury he suffered in Week 1 to lead the Black Raiders against Nokomis in the Class C North quarterfinals Saturday.  Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

There’s never a good time for a losing streak, but whenever one comes this time of year, it’s even worse.

It can be tough to rebound from momentum-stifling skids to play win-or-go-home playoff games, which tend to come, naturally, against the state’s better football teams. Yet when losing means turning in your helmet and pads the following week, the urgency tends to pick up.

“Not that losing is fun, but sometimes, maybe it can be a little bit necessary to go through that process,” said Waterville head coach Isaac LeBlanc. “Sometimes, you have early-season success and then get punched in the mouth a little bit toward the end, and you have to bounce back.”

That’s exactly what four central Maine teams did this weekend to get back on track just when they needed it most. Waterville, Lawrence, Winslow and Skowhegan all snapped losing skids with big wins in this weekend’s playoff showdowns to advance in their respective playoff fields.

Lawrence, which was picked second in the Pine Tree Conference preseason poll, struggled more than expected as it went just 3-5 in regular-season play. The Bulldogs entered the season ranked sixth after dropping its last two regular-season games, the last of which came against a one-win Messalonskee team.

John Hersom’s team wasn’t fazed, even as it went to face a Windham team that had beaten Lawrence 23-8 in Week 2 and had just beaten Skowhegan in Week 8. The Bulldogs (4-5) played their finest game of the season, dominating the second half after trailing 14-13 at the break to beat the No. 3 Eagles (5-4) 35-20.


“To go there and get a win like that was huge for our team,” said Lawrence sophomore quarterback Michael Hamlin. “We went into the week knowing we could beat them if we just had a good week of practice, and we definitely had a good week of practice. We went in prepared, and now, we’re going into this week with the same mentality.”

Also playing perhaps its best game of the season was Winslow, which snapped a streak of four straight losses with a 27-12 win over No. 4 Nokomis (5-4) in the Class C North quarterfinals. The fifth-ranked Black Raiders (4-5) dominated time of possession, running the ball 63 times for more than 300 yards in the win.

Down in the Midcoast area, No. 3 Waterville (5-3) defeated second-ranked Morse (5-4) 22-12 in eight-man’s Large School North semifinals. The win snapped a two-game losing skid for the Purple Panthers, who had lost big to Mt. Ararat in Week 7 before dropping the regular-season finale to Camden Hills in Week 8.

Waterville trailed 6-0 late in the first half before getting two quick touchdowns before the break to go up 14-6. Then, with the visitors leading just 14-12 in the fourth quarter, Gage Hubbard ran in a touchdown and a 2-point conversion that put the Panthers up 10 and marked the final points of the evening.

“We ran the ball as well as we had all night against them (early in the fourth quarter), and we ended up scoring a rushing touchdown and getting that 2-point conversion,” LeBlanc said. “After we got that 2-point conversion, I really felt good just because of how the flow of the game had been, and we were able to close it out.”

Elsewhere, Skowhegan was utterly dominant in its Class B North quarterfinal win, leading No. 7 Brewer (3-6) 35-0 at halftime en route to a 42-6 win. The win ended a two-game losing streak for the River Hawks, who had lost 47-7 to Thornton Academy in Week 7 before the Week 8 defeat at Windham.


“We needed to get back to that confidence we had in the first six weeks of the season,” Skowhegan head coach Ryan Libby said Friday night following the win. “For us to get clicking early and get that confidence back, it was huge.”

Skowhegan and Lawrence will meet in the Class B North semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday, as will Waterville and Small School North No. 1 seed Mount Desert Island (6-2) in the regional final. Winslow will face Medomak Valley in the C South semis, though a time for that game has yet to be announced.


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Winthrop’s Robby Feeney loses Oak Hill’s Hunter Drew and Maverick Swan during an Oct. 22 game in Wales. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Ever since Class D became a small, statewide class last year, the standings have been in a constant state of flux. Never has that been more apparent than this past weekend, the final week of the 2022 regular season for the classification’s eight teams.


By the time Class D’s Week 9 slate concluded, none of the teams ranked second through sixth in the Crabtree standings ended up where they were to begin the weekend. The result is a set of playoff matchups that looks almost nothing like it did a week ago in an ultra-competitive, parity-driven league.

Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale began the weekend in second place, trailing only reigning state champion Foxcroft. After a 36-21 loss to Lisbon and Freeport’s win over John Bapst, Dave St. Hilaire’s Ramblers fell behind the Greyhounds and Falcons to finish in the No. 4 spot.

“We scored on our first drive, but then we had two opportunities down inside their 15-yard line, and we couldn’t punch it in,” St. Hilaire said. “If we score, it’s 21-6 instead of just 7-6, and you maybe take them out of their double-wing T and more into something they don’t want to do. … We couldn’t do that, and they took advantage.”

John Bapst, meanwhile, had been in fifth prior to their 27-14 loss to Freeport on Saturday. That loss, coupled with Poland’s 48-0 win over Madison/Carrabec, sent the Crusaders down to sixth and the Knights up to fifth — a development that came as a bit of a surprise to St. Hilaire.

“Bapst was playing Saturday night, and we thought, ‘Well, they were ahead of Poland going into this week, so they’ll be fifth,’” St. Hilaire said. “I was actually starting to prepare for Bapst as that game was progressing because I didn’t think they’d (drop a spot), but they did, so it was a thing of, ‘OK, I guess we’re on to Poland now.’”

Down at the bottom of the Class D standings, Oak Hill (2-6) and Madison/Carrabec (1-7) remained in their previous spots of seventh and eighth, respectively. Foxcroft (7-1) remained in the No. 1 spot after beating the Raiders 37-6 in the regular season finale.



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Mt. Blue’s Dylan Farmer (56) forces Cony’s Elijah Klaiber (24) to fumble during a Class B North football quarterfinal Friday in Augusta. Cony recovered the fumble on the play. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

It may have been a difficult aspect to see immediately following the end of the season, but Mt. Blue head coach Matt Friedman was well aware of the step forward the program took in 2022 after losing 38-13 to Cony in a Class B North quarterfinal on Friday night in Augusta.

The Cougars finished 3-6. It’s a jump from last season, in which the Cougars finished with one win and were at the bottom of the B North standings.

“It’s something we’ve talked about as a coaching staff the last couple of weeks as we’ve gotten towards the end of the regular season, starting the evaluation process,” Friedman said. “Honestly, we got as far as we were hoping to get, maybe even a little bit more. Maybe the wins and losses weren’t exactly where we wanted them, but the fight in these guys and the way we approached practice every day was just really, really refreshing and nice.”


Despite the score, Mt. Blue pushed Cony on Friday night. Quarterback Jayden Meader finished 11 of 20 passing for 124 yards, including a 43-yard strike to wide receiver Isaac Wrigley.

“I’m tremendously proud of my guys,” Friedman said. “Coming from where we were, last year, trying to put things back together, it’s been a long road but it’s been a great road. These guys really kind of dedicated themselves to playing as hard as they can and helping rebuild this program. This senior class, we’re going to miss them.”


Staff reporter Dave Dyer contributed to this report.

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