Once again, our gold ball gurus have taken the time to write down their thoughts on the upcoming high school football season. With the addition of a fourth class in 2013, Randy Whitehouse, and Kalle Oakes have even more to say this year. So let’s get right to it:

Whitehouse: And away we go! We’d like to thank Kalle Oakes for taking time from his panelist duties on Channel 8, First Take, Meet the Press, America’s Got Talent, What’s My Line and The McLaughlin Group to join us for our annual high school football preview chat.

And we’ve got lots to talk about. We won’t rehash the realignment to four classes but we will look at each class individually, starting with Class A. We’ve got more trips to the Forest City in our future, Mr. Oakes, and conventional wisdom has it that the traditional Eastern A teams will be on a learning curve, with the former Western A teams dishing out most of the lessons. I happen to think the games and the region will be more competitive than most people think, with Lewiston having the potential to surprise some people. But ultimately, it will come down to Cheverus and Portland, with the winner of the season-opener getting the inside track. I’ll take the Stags because of John Wolfgram and the bad taste they still have in their mouth from last year. Unfortunately for them, they will have to swallow the same bitter pill again, just a week later than last year, when they run into defending champion Thornton Academy at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Oakes: What, no O’Reilly Factor? As for the matters at hand, remember how Lewiston and EL turned the old PTC on its ear in their first year of membership, 2002, before eventually blending in with the competition? You may see the opposite at work here. This could be an adjustment year for the Devils and Eddies (and Vikings), but as time goes by, they will adjust to the raised bar and fit in just fine. As for the inaugural season of Class Doubly-Good-A, I will play the Skip to your Stephen A., dare to be different and say that talent wins out over recent tradition. Portland stalls Chevy in the, ahem, “East,” albeit before losing to Thornton by two TDs in the state title game. Seen that before?

As you know, I’m old (school?) and therefore a huge fan of the collection of schools the MPA has dropped into Eastern Class B. Lawrence-Mt. Blue and Cony-Gardiner games become meaningful again. This is going to be a serious black-and-blue division, which makes it all the more entertaining that the Cougars and their wildcat-meets-the-run-and-shoot sensibilities will come out on top. That makes it tempting to pick Marshwood in the West, producing a rematch of the classic state final for which a certain someone was chained to the desk. But I’ll be a spoilsport and go with the Kennebunk Rams, who will party like it’s 1991 and hoist the gold.

Whitehouse: Love the B-East. Anybody who doesn’t spend at least one Friday night basking in the pigskin paradise triangle between Farmington, Brunswick and Hampden should have their high school fan card confiscated and burned. The team that can take as many bruises as it dishes out is going to Orono, and much as I’d like to force you to suffer through desk duty while I take my turn watching Mt. Blue win a game for the ages, I am going to take Lawrence. The Cougars may get the first chuckle when they play next week, but the young Bulldogs will get the last laugh in November because they have the perfect antidote to the Cougar Gun, defense and ball control. I’ll see your Kennebunk and raise you a game worth the drive to Orono. It will be a classic.

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Eastern B is worthy of all of the love letters being sent its way, but I’m pretty pumped up for Class C West, too, especially since it is bringing Leavitt, Mountain Valley and Spruce Mountain together. I don’t care how the talent stacks up, the atmosphere at Libby, Hosmer and Griffin fields, respectively, will be cranked up to unprecedented levels whenever those teams are involved. The whiff of bad blood will almost cancel out whatever the artery-clogging concession stands are frying up. Folks in Rumford and Livermore Falls will be particularly cranked for the Hornets, because they’re the clear favorite here. I see a virtual repeat of the last time they got upset in the playoffs — an undefeated season — and a reunion with old Eastern B foe Waterville in Portland.

Oakes: Wells and the bubonic plague are the only things capable of spoiling your Leavitt prediction. I suppose I could play the role of the bad guy in Turner all autumn long, but I can’t see any scenario in which the Hornets don’t start another conference unbeaten streak that steers them straight to Fitzpatrick. Waterville’s a solid pick, but don’t forget about last year’s Class C state finalists, both of whom are on that side of the ledger after the realignment. I’ll play the Ponies and take a stab that the road to Portland passes through, ahem, Oakes Field in scenic, downtown Dover-Foxcroft.

Believe it or not, Lisbon hasn’t won a regional or state title in six years. With the two programs that have been their chief nemeses during that span — Winslow and Yarmouth — staying put in Class C, the new ‘D’ designation might give the Greyhounds a chance to sharpen those teeth once again. The new league won’t be any easier; Dirigo, Oak Hill and the Winthrop-Monmouth collaboration are legitimate challengers, both now and for the foreseeable future. But if the disciples of Mynahan survive the usual early season bout with held-over academic issues, he’ll lead them to the promised land against …. throwing dart at a board … Orono.

Whitehouse: Well, we agree on the West. Most of the contenders seem to be pretty balanced. When that’s the case, give the edge to the team with the best player. Lisbon’s Quincy Thompson is that player. But I wouldn’t be shocked to see any one from the challengers you mentioned take home the hardware. For all of the hype B East is getting, this might be my favorite region. If you’re so much of a football snob that you refuse to give the Class D teams their due just because of that one letter, it’s your loss buddy. Pound-for-pound, D West will pack as much of a punch and even more drama because these teams already have a rich history of, uh, disagreements. Whoever goes to Portland will be sufficiently steeled to out-wrestle Bucksport for the first D championship in 27 years.

Follow Randy @RAWmaterial33 and Kalle @oaksie72 all season long for more high school football coverage.


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