Hunter Landry of Lewiston High School gains yardage against an Edward Little defense during the second quarter in Auburn on Friday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
It’s not often a team gets a chance to avenge a loss to its biggest rival one week later. The final football Heal point standings are giving Lewiston and Oak Hill that opportunity next Saturday.
No. 5 Lewiston will return to Walton Field for its Class A North first-round playoff game against No. 4 Edward Little. Oak Hill will travel to Lisbon for its Class D South quarterfinal against the second-seeded Greyhounds.
“It’s got to make us hungry. We’ve got to come back here next week with a chip on our shoulder,” Lewiston coach Bruce Nicholas said after his team’s 26-22 loss to Edward Little on Friday night. “It’s probably going to be another battle next week.”
The winner of the 177th Battle of the Bridge will advance to a semifinal matchup with top-seeded Portland. No. 2 Oxford Hills also has a bye and will host the winner of the other first-round game pitting No. 3 Cheverus against No. 6 Bangor.
Oak Hill hoped to upset Lisbon and vault up the D South standings, and was driving for the tying score with 1:29 left before back-to-back pick-sixes by the Greyhounds put them over the top.
“We’re going to go back to the drawing board and reassess,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said after his team’s 47-27 loss to Lisbon on Saturday. “It is what it is. We’ve got to evaluate and see what we’re going to do.”
Spruce Mountain and Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale will both enter the D South playoffs on a winning note, but it was the Phoenix who secured the No. 4 seed and home field for Friday night’s quarterfinal between the two. The Phoenix tied Mountain Valley in the Heal points but dropped to No. 4 due to the Falcons winning the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Mountain Valley retained the No. 3 spot despite falling to the Ramblers last Friday and will host No. 6 Madison/Carrabec on Friday night. No. 8 Poland faces top-seeded Wells, the defending state champions in the other quarterfinal.
Leavitt earned the top seed in Class C South over No. 2 Fryeburg Academy despite the Raiders winning their head-to-head matchup this season. The Hornets host No. 8 Lake Region, while the Raiders draw No. 7 Yarmouth.
In Class B North, Skowhegan earned the top seed with a 5-3 record, while Cony, whose only loss came against the Indians, is No. 2. They both earned a bye. Skowhegan awaits the winner of No. 5 Mt. Blue at No. 4 Lawrence in the first round.
Dirigo is No. 2 in the four-team Class E playoffs and will host Maranacook in the semifinals. The victor plays for the state title against the winner of No. 1 Freeport vs. No. 4 Camden Hills.
Other top seeds are: Thornton Academy (A South), Kennebunk (B South), Maine Central Institute (C North) and Foxcroft Academy (D North).
After losing by a combined eight points over the past two weeks to Madison/Carrabec and Lisbon, Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale was reeling at the worst possible time.
The Ramblers traveled to Mountain Valley for the final week of the regular season in a convoluted Class D South trying to gain any kind of momentum heading into what promises to be a competitive playoffs.
When Mountain Valley kicked an onside kick to start the third quarter up 8-6, coach Dave St. Hilaire was nervous how his team would bounce back.
“The last couple of weeks we have executed at times but then we make mistakes,” St. Hilaire said. “That’s one of those that if it had happened in the last two weeks we would have imploded.”
Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale answered with an interception a couple of plays later and went on to win 20-8 on the back of three Jevin Smith touchdown runs.
The win, moving the team to an even .500 record at 4-4, gave the Ramblers the confidence they were feeling at the beginning of the year.
“The kids were mentally tough tonight and they rebounded well,” St. Hilaire said. “That’s what I was most impressed with tonight, that we lost the ball on that opening kickoff and we didn’t let it distract us from what we wanted to do.”
The Ramblers will face a Spruce Mountain team that beat them by 32 in the opening week. But Smith and the rest of the team are feeling like they are hitting their stride at just the right time.
“It feels pretty good going into playoffs and I’m ready to do some damage,” said Smith, who had 59 yards rushing. “We are coming together now. We had some mistakes the last few weeks, but we are clicking at the right time. We are coming together and I can’t wait for playoffs. We’ve got that mentality back from the beginning of the season.”
PATRIOTS GET THE POINT
Gray-New Gloucester’s only touchdown of a season-finale loss to Poland didn’t mean much for the end result of the game. The Patriots still lost to rival Poland by a lopsided score, and another winless season came to an end.
But that the Patriots scored at all meant something to first-year coach Brian Jahna.
“Yeah, for a couple of reasons. One, I mean, it was right at the end of the game, and it shows I think the character of our guys to stay focused and push themselves right to the end. They could have easily just been done with the game, and we certainly would not have been able to score there,” Jahna said. “Also, our records say that it’s the first Gray-New Gloucester team to not have a shutout for a season. So we scored in every game, and as far as our records are showing that’s a first for us. So any time we can do something that’s a first, or is successful for our program, then we’re pretty excited about that.”
The Patriots wrapped up their 14th varsity season with the non-shutout loss.
The first two passes thrown Isaiah Hill’s way didn’t go so well for the Poland sophomore receiver, with both hitting his hands followed shortly by hitting the ground. But the Knights didn’t give up on him, and Hill didn’t give up either.
The next pass thrown his way was a on a screen play from QB Brady Downing that went for a loss after Hill slipped on the grass, but on the Knights’ next drive Hill caught all three passes thrown his way for a total of 31 yards to help Poland score to go up 14-0.
“You know, he’s a young kid, and he’s going to make mistakes, but he’s too good of an athlete not to give him the ball. And, you know, he redeemed himself,” Poland coach Spencer Emerson said.
— Staff Writers Randy Whitehouse, Adam Robinson and Wil Kramlich contributed to this story.