Oxford Hills’ Dawson Stevens gets forced out of bounds by Lewiston’s Davin Jackson during last year’s game in Lewiston. Lewiston’s Jeremy Madore and Oxford Hills’ William Mazariego are also in on the play.

There’s something about early-September games between Lewiston and Oxford Hills that appeals to the high school football schedule-makers. The Pine Tree Conference rivals have met in the first two weeks of the season each of the past five years.

For the third year in a row, Lewiston and Oxford Hills are meeting in Week 2 of the football season on Friday night. And it is as appealing as the matchup has been in some time.

Each of the last two meetings (which the teams’ split with dueling shutouts, including 19-0 Vikings last year), both teams were looking to bounce back from Week 1 losses. This time, each is coming off of a big opening night win — the Blue Devils at home against South Portland, 34-21, and the Vikings at Fitzpatrick Stadium against the Red Riots’ Million Dollar Bridge neighbors, Portland, 20-14.

Based on their history together and last week’s performances, defense could be a key to whoever leaves Don Gouin Complex still unbeaten.

The Blue Devils were opportunistic against South Portland, forcing three interceptions, all by junior Hunter Landry, and a fumble. The Red Riots rolled up over 400 yards of total offense, but two interceptions by Landry at the goal-line and the third that he returned 50 yards for a touchdown made it the quintessential ‘bend-don’t-break” effort by a speedy unit.

Generating turnovers in the passing game isn’t out of the question on Friday night. Oxford Hills’ QB Colton Carson threw two interceptions in his first varsity start. But the Devils’ primary task will be to keep Oxford Hills’ clock-killing run game from moving the chains for long drives. 

The Vikings controlled the ball for nearly 30 minutes against Portland, including an eight-minute opening drive that ended with an 18-yard Stevens touchdown. Their big offensive line overpowered Portland at times, but also had its share of penalties.

Lewiston had a few mistakes of its own against South Portland, including a safety. But the Blue Devils like to control the ball, too. Landry, who had three touchdowns, and Garrett Poussard both topped the 100-yard mark rushing. The Blue Devils aren’t quite as big or experienced up front as the Vikings, but Lewiston has enough speed to exploit the smallest of openings.

A win Friday night would open up a lot of possibilities for the rest of either team’s season.

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