Eleven questions, one for each two-way player on your under-sized, big-hearted team, about the high school football season before us:

1. Mountain Valley-Leavitt state title game? This was rapidly becoming one of the premier football rivalries in the tri-county region a decade ago. Then Leavitt was sacrificed to the god of convenience and moved East, denying the Falcons the privilege of meeting their natural geographical foe in anything but a ski meet.

We prayed for this battle on the fourth Saturday in November last fall, and the pleas went unanswered. You can make the case that each is the favorite on its, um, side of the state. Plenty of potential pitfalls await both teams, however. York returns almost intact to challenge Mountain Valley, and fellow movie stars Cape Elizabeth will be rugged as ever. Leavitt must overcome nasty nemesis Morse, nouveau riche Mount Desert Island, not to mention the titanic tradition of Winslow, Gardiner and Waterville in order to escape the Pine Tree Conference.

2.Pass-happy Lewiston? With multi-talented Ronnie Turner at quarterback and a stellar backfield surrounding him, there’s a chance that Lewiston could go all spread offense on us and be this year’s version of Edward Little.

Uh-huh. Well, Bill County hasn’t won 75 percent of his games and two state titles in an 18-year coaching career by channeling Urban Meyer. When it’s spitting snow and your shaking fingers are spilling hot chocolate all over your neighbor and the game’s tied in the fourth quarter, I’ll bet you my gloves that County will saddle up his choice of tailbacks behind a senior-laden offensive line and say go win us a football game, son.

3. Dirigo for real? In a word, duhhhhh. Three-year starter Nic Crutchfield directs the offense. Four-year starter Mason Cote anchors the offensive line. All the Cougars lacked a year ago was experience in meaningful games. Winthrop and Lisbon were kind enough to offer it by the bushel.

4. Bonny Eagle, again? Nate Doehler isn’t walking through that door, so bet against them if you want. But until Deering, Portland or Cheverus steps up and proves otherwise, the power in Western Class A and all of Maine high school football continues to make itself at home in the ‘burbs.

5. Do numbers matter? Not yet, where 215-to-330 enrollment Dirigo, Jay, Livermore Falls and Winthrop will continue to dominate Western Class C (along with perennial Class B-minus champion Lisbon) while the 400-to-510s take it on the chin strap. But give it five years. The resources of Yarmouth and Freeport and the superior depth of Oak Hill and Maranacook will manifest themselves in the Campbell Conference. And don’t get me started about the disparity in Class A. We need a fourth class, pronto.

6. Will Oxford Hills get into the win column? That’s an easy one. If the Vikings get through their opener with PTC South favorite Lewiston without feeling demoralized, winning could become a habit again. Oh-fer didn’t sit well with a senior class that has endured two injury-plagued seasons. Renewed offseason commitment and a reinforced roster to prove it should pay dividends this season and next.

7. Jay or Livermore Falls? Yes, people already are asking, and the answer probably will determine which one challenges Dirigo for the top spot in Western Class C North. I like the Tigers because of Austin Clark at quarterback. I like the Andies because of Chandler White at fullback.

8. How’s that for a copout? OK, slight edge to the Andies. I expect there to be a playoff rematch, anyway.

9. Can a team lose every full-time starter and return to the playoffs? Winthrop’s going to provide the answer, but my early guess is affirmative based on the Mountain Valley rule. When you’re beating people 48-0, your reserves usually are good enough to be anyone else’s starters. They enjoy ample playing time while awaiting their turn. Shed no tears for the Ramblers, who will not only return to the postseason but be the morning-line favorite to win the Western C championship in 2010.

10. Any surprises? Gray-New Gloucester has a new, proven coach and a baker’s dozen hungry seniors, hinting that the Patriots could match their high of four wins from a few years back. Oak Hill has enough talent at the skill positions to make hay with its Class C schedule. Mt. Blue is on the rise after being mired in the middle of the PTC pack for three seasons. 

11. Time to stop asking questions and start watching the answers, don’t you think? Aaaaaa-men.

Kalle Oakes is a staff columnist. His email is [email protected]


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