His own team won the Western Class C football championship only two years ago, and yet it’s difficult for Jay coach Mark Bonnevie to visualize the Campbell Conference playoffs without thinking of Lisbon and Boothbay.

“I can’t think of the last time either one of them missed the playoffs,” Bonnevie said. “Lisbon has been there every year that I can remember since they’ve been back in Class C.”

Their recent triumphant traditions and their seemingly inevitable collision in mid-November make the Seahawks and Greyhounds everyone’s co-favorites when August rolls around.

While this summer is no different, it’s fair to say that any belief in Boothbay is based upon tangible things in the present. There’s the return of all-conference quarterback Roy Arsenault and athletic receivers Pat Norton and Kris Noonan, for instance, or the customarily deep pool of running backs that includes Max Alley and Joe Farrin.

A vote for Lisbon, meanwhile, is more a reflection of the respect for what the Greyhounds have accomplished in the past. They’ve won two of the last three league titles, securing the state championship with a brilliant goal-line stand in the final minute of regulation against Foxcroft last fall.

Graduation gutted the starting lineup, removing once-in-a-generation talents Levi Ervin and Elijah Trefts and a double-digit number of senior starters from the equation.

“This will be a different type of team,” said Lisbon coach Dick Mynahan. “We haven’t quite determined what that’s going to be yet. We don’t know a lot about ourselves.”

Lisbon will be smaller up front. Devan Knight and Jared Williams are expected to anchor an offensive line that will average roughly 175 pounds.

Dan Willis will take over as the primary ball carrier while combining with Jesse Moan to lead a rugged group at linebacker. Mike Unterkoefler is emerging as the new QB. Sophomore Nate Blackwell could also call the signals, but his talents may be better served in a utility role this fall.

Whichever team wins the annual Jay-Livermore Falls tussle has the potential to venture deep into the playoffs.

Livermore Falls returns nine starters on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Kevin Gats’ arrival as the new QB will permit Mike Nichols to slide to halfback in a potentially explosive Wing-T attack that also features Mark O’Shea and Kyle Stebbins.

Mike Durrell, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound tackle, is the Andies’ linchpin both offensively and defensively.

“It’s a great group of kids. I’ve been fortunate to have that every year at Livermore Falls,” said coach Brad Bishop. “We have a tough schedule. We start off with Lisbon and Foxcroft, so we’ve got to improve every week and be there at the end.”

Jay welcomes back three-fifths of its offensive line and a potent inside/outside running game with Trevor McCourt and Zane Armandi.

Winthrop could duel with Old Orchard Beach for the role of sleeper, if the Ramblers find a suitable replacement for 1,000-yard rusher Tavis Hasenfus. His job falls into the capable hands of Russ Schmelzer. Kyle Plossay is the full-time QB after seeing spot duty the last two seasons.

The Ramblers started last season 5-1 before dropping three straight to miss the playoffs. This summer, their hopes of getting off to a strong start have been somewhat dampened by having their final pre-season scrimmage against Stearns canceled when the Millinocket school couldn’t come up with enough varsity players to make it worth the six-hour round trip.

“Nobody at the Maine Principals’ Association wants to return my calls,” said Winthrop coach Joel Stoneton. “They’ve stepped in and decided who you’re going to scrimmage. My (complaint) is that we’re the only high school football team in Maine not playing a game this weekend.”

Hopes are high at Dirigo, with more than 50 players suiting up for new coach Doug Gilbert in only the Cougars’ second season of standing alone after reviving their varsity program.

“We’re on a two-game winning streak,” joked Gilbert, whose team beat Traip and Stearns to cap its comeback campaign. “I just want to win three this year. I want to keep moving forward.”

Pat O’Leary and D.J. Robbins lead a senior-dominated offensive line that hopes to pave the way for QB Dakota Holmquist and RBs Josh Daley, Kevin O’Leary and Keith Gaudet.


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