There’s no way the rematch between Edward Little and Oxford Hills/Buckfield can live up to the first meeting between the two teams, right? Fans, especially those of the Red Eddies, can only hope.

To recap, the Red Eddies stole a win on the road with a last-play touchdown pass from Grant Hartley to CJ Jipson in a 32-28 win back on September 16.

Oxford Hills/Buckfield coach Mark Soehren said both teams have improved since then, but they still hold to their core beliefs on offense. The Red Eddies like to throw the ball and the Vikings are run-heavy.

Soehren said he expects to see much of the same in Friday night’s Class A North quarterfinal between his No. 4 Vikings and the No. % Red Eddies.

EL coach Dave Sterling, however, said his team needs to run the ball better.

“We’re a little bit healthier than we were last time. We got a couple of our running backs back,” Sterling said.

The Red Eddies have back running backs Caden Begos and Caelan Pelletier, as well as receiver-turned-runner Maxx Bell.

If nothing else, the Red Eddies have to run the ball effectively just to keep the time of possession close against a Vikings team that loves to run the ball.

“If they can move the ball consistently, it’s going to create a difficulty as far as they’re going to try to work the clock as much as they can with their run game,” Sterling said. “We’ve got to try to match them as far as our offensive output.”

The Vikings’ running game starts with tailbacks Dawson Stevens and Ryland VanDecker, the Nos. 2 and 3 runners in Class A North. They run behind fullback Levi Brett, and Sterling also expects to see plenty of the Vikings’ “jumbo” set, with two fullbacks.

They all run behind an offensive line that Sterling said is a strong one.

But Soehren said his line will have its work cut out against the EL defensive front.

“They are aggressive and move around, trying to make blocking assignments confusing,” Soehren said.

Line play will also be key when the Red Eddies have the ball. Soehren said the EL line gave Hartley all sorts of time, and with time comes more chances for Jipson, Bell and the speedy/shifty Tyler Blanchard to get open.

“They are capable of scoring from anywhere on the field,” Soehren said, with the previous result a testament to that. “We have to be sure we are solid in our assignments so as to not give up easy scores.”

Nothing seemingly easy comes in the playoffs. And with rain in the forecast for Friday night, that could have an effect on the game. Passing the ball becomes more difficult, as does just holding onto it.

Sterling said he expects a lot of the same in this playoff rematch, even if both teams have grown, the weather could be different, and the stakes will be higher.

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