Randy: We’re halfway through the season (obligatory “Can you believe it?”). It’s a good time to look at where things stand and where they may be headed.
I’ll start out in Class A. Big picture, there aren’t any surprises — North is wide open, South is a three-team race.
With that said, there are some surprises in A North. Edward Little and Lewiston are a combined 7-1 and everyone in the Twin Cities is rooting for that trend to continue because there hasn’t been this much buzz about the high school football teams since 2008, when they both finished the season 7-1 and met in the regional semifinal. The Battle of the Bridge at the end of the season is going to be a good one.
As far as the rest of A North, I’m sure no one expected Portland to be 0-4. I’m also sure no one expected Oxford Hills to lose two of the next three after beating the Bulldogs. I wouldn’t want to face either team in the playoffs, but both need to start playing up to their potential.
Lee: I hadn’t thought about this, but you’re right: first place in the regular season is divine, but any of the teams that make the Class A North have a shot at reaching the state championship game. That will be a fun postseason.
If someone had told Mt. Blue it would be a game better than defending Class B state champion Brunswick halfway through the season, the Cougars probably would have figured their season was off to a dominating start.
The Cougars are one up on the Dragons, but not in the battle for the top seed in B North, but for the final playoff spot. However, there is still half of the season left, and Mt. Blue is one game back of region leaders Brewer and Lawrence (as far as Heal points are concerned — third-place Messalonskee has the best record at 3-1), and winless Brunswick is only two games behind. It appears anything can change in B North.
Kennebunk, last year’s Class B runner-up, and Marshwood are off to undefeated starts in B South, but Falmouth is right behind with only one loss.
Randy: B North is almost as much of a toss-up as A North. Marshwood and Kennebunk have separated themselves in B South.
Leavitt has emerged as the favorite in C South, but Fryeburg showed last week they can hang with the Hornets. Even in a loss, the Raiders had to come away with a big confidence boost going forward.
As for the Hornets, they’ve got a couple of more tests coming up against Cape Elizabeth and at MDI. It seems like more and more of their offensive weapons emerge each week, which will help them in those games and the playoffs.
Gardiner is 1-3 but No. 3 in the Heals, which, based on what I’ve seen, isn’t far off from where it should be. The Tigers are better than their record. Cape trails them by percentage points in fourth despite beating Gardiner.
C North looks like Winslow and MDI again. Not sure if the folks up there have had enough of that matchup but that’s probably what they’re going to get.
Lee: I saw Fryeburg play once last year, and came away impressed. My understanding is that they aren’t a consistent football contender, but they seemed organized and athletic.
Class D South is kind of a bummer because a lot of the mystery has already evaporated. Barring disaster, Wells is going to earn the top seed. The Warriors will likely finish out their schedule with four sizable wins. (Feel free to prove me wrong, Oak Hill, Lisbon and Mountain Valley.)
The postseason could be a different story, though. Madison is the only D South team so far to stick with Wells, holding a 21-7 lead last week, before falling 25-21. That game was at Wells, too, so the Bulldogs have proven themselves worthy of facing the Warriors on any field. Add to that a potent, multi-faceted offense, and Madison is a squad that can put a scare into Wells.
Lisbon, Spruce Mountain, Mountain Valley and Old Orchard Beach are probably vying to be the best of the second tier. All four teams have fairly equal remaining schedules, so Lisbon’s lead over the other three may hold up. Winthrop/Monmouth has had a brutal schedule so far, but far more winnable games remain in the second half of the season, so the Ramblers may work their way up the standings if they can get healthy.
I realize Class E schools aren’t contending for the postseason, but Boothbay established itself as the favorite by defeating Maranacook, 13-6, last week. Telstar is 0-4, but its offense came on last week, putting up 49 points in a loss to Washington Academy, so maybe the Rebels can make further progress within the group of rebuilding programs.