Lee: It’s a fine season for tri-county teams when it takes until the second to last week for the area to be pared down to one unbeaten team.

Lisbon and Leavitt both lost their first games, leaving Edward Little as the area’s lone unbeaten wolf.

While compiling a 7-0 record, the Red Eddies have been the recipients of descriptions along the lines of “winning ugly.” They’ve done some of that, for sure, but it kind of diminishes what they’ve accomplished in 2017.

I’ve been covering only Class A North so far this season (that streak ends this week with a trip to Leavitt), and I can say this: Edward Little is the best team in Class A North. Each week, with each win, they distance themselves.

And last week’s win over Windham, right now the No. 2 team in A North, was clean. Neither team turned the ball over, and the Red Eddies’ undersized defense found a way to hold its own against the Eagles’ bigger and stronger offensive line and running backs.

When the Eddies needed a comeback against Cheverus, they came through. When they needed to score a touchdown and then an extra point against Oxford Hills, they did so. When Deering made mistakes, EL capitalized. And, the Eddies routed Bangor and Massabesic, as they should have.

So here’s to you, Edward Little. What you’ve done is beautiful.

The season’s not over, though. There’s kind of a big game this week, when the Battle of the Bridge will be played, for what I’m assuming is the first time, at Garcelon Field .

On paper, and from what I’ve seen, Edward Little should beat Lewiston on Friday. Does this rivalry have the type of mystic and history that makes an undefeated squad unsafe against one currently in the middle of the pack?

Randy: This isn’t one of those “throw the records out the window” rivalries in terms of legendary upsets, though there are bound to be a few when you’ve played 174 times. 

It’s funny, since I’ve been doing this, this is about the most lopsided matchup of records. Usually when one is doing well, the other is having a good year, too, and we know recently they’ve both generally been fighting for a playoff spot late in the season.

EL has distanced itself from everyone, not just Lewiston, in recent weeks. It’s true the Eddies have been stuck with a “winning ugly” label since the start, and I’m guilty of that, but that’s how they won, for the most part, in the first month. They’ve been winning in a lot of different ways this season. Last week, they marked “clean” off the checklist.

The thing about the Eddies is the defense is just flat out good and the offense is living up to its potential now that Grant Hartley is on the mark. He struggled a little earlier in the season, but last week against Windham showed what he’s capable of with his arm and his legs. He’s the most physical quarterback this side of Lucas Francis and the Eddies take their cue from his toughness and confidence. If that keeps up, they’ll be at Fitzpatrick Stadium in a month. 

Lewiston has the defense to provide a bit of a blueprint on how to play the Eddies, though. They’re fast and physical and can pressure the quarterback. If they keep their own mistakes to a minimum, moving the ball can be a bit of a chore for any offense. 

The problem is, the Blue Devils haven’t been playing 48 minutes on either side of the ball, and it’s all come tumbling down in the late stages of far too many games. If they play a strong first half, they will at least hang around with the Eddies. The question is, at it has been for the last month, how they will hold up in the second half, especially if they have the lead.

It’s clear what Lewiston has to do if it wants to be a threat to their rivals on Friday night or in the playoffs. You’ve seen EL more than I have this year. What do you think coach Dave Sterling and his team want to tighten up for the playoffs?

Lee: The Lewiston and Edward Little defenses are similar. Neither have a ton of size, so they rely on speed and effort. They’re also both head, shoulders, knees and toes better than last year’s defenses.

Late in the fourth quarter of last week’s win over Windham, the Red Eddies took 21-6 lead. Then Windham marched 66 yards, mostly on runs, in two minutes to get back within one score.

Sterling said after the game that EL needs to work on not letting those types of drives happen.

Although the records might be lopsided, these rivals really aren’t that much different from each other. What sets the Eddies apart is Hartley’s passing and that they have figured out how to win close games. But Lewiston has the playmakers to cause EL problems. Plus, the Blue Devils have a lot more on the line: It looks like they will finish either second or fourth in A North, depending on whether they win.

That’s not the only big game this week for area teams. Who has the most on the line this week?

Randy: It depends on whether you think Oxford Hills needs a home game to advance beyond the A North quarterfinals. The Vikings host Cheverus with the winner getting a home game next week, although a rematch probably isn’t in the cards. The Vikings could host Portland, who they beat all the way back in Week 1.

Oak Hill is playing essentially its second playoff game in a row when it faces Lisbon on Saturday. Mt. Blue has to beat Skowhegan to play next week. Lisbon will know if it has a shot at the No. 2 seed by then, based on how Spruce Mountain does with Madison on Friday. Other than that, it’s mostly for seeding this week and I honestly don’t know how much more the impact of that will be felt beyond next week.

Some darkhorse is probably lurking, but among the locals, EL and Leavitt will go into their playoffs as favorites regardless of what happens Friday night. Other than that, everyone else is hoping to be peaking right now. It will be interesting to see if anyone — meaning a Lewiston, Mountain Valley (against Wells) or Spruce Mountain — forces us to put them in the conversation next week.


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