When Class D South schedule was released last summer, football fans in Rumford, Mexico, Jay and Livermore Falls were left scratching their heads.

How could the slate not include a meeting of two teams, merely separated by a half-hour drive, who have met eight times in six years, through two classes?

The schools tried to right that wrong with a preseason scrimmage, but the playoffs offer Spruce Mountain and Mountain Valley’s their first meaningful showdown in Class D. They meet for the third time in the playoffs in the Class D South quarterfinals on Friday night at Chet Bulger Field.

A rivalry between such tradition-rich towns was one of the more tantalizing athletic attractions when Jay and Livermore Falls merged high schools in 2011. To this point, it has been the definition of a see-saw series.

The Falcons had the upper hand in their first three encounters in Class B, including a 48-0 route in the regional quarterfinals.

Spruce Mountain picked up its first win in both teams’ first Class C season, 2013, then knotted the series, 3-3, with two victories in 2014, including a lopsided quarterfinal win, 35-0.

Mountain Valley tilted the ledger in its favor in 2015 before Spruce pulled back even with an 18-12 overtime win in the 2016 season finale at Chet Bulger Field.

Fifth-seeded Spruce Mountain and fourth-seeded Mountain Valley return to the scene on Friday night even though the Phoenix (5-3) have a better record than the Falcons (4-4). The Falcons have the Heal points to thank for that, or more specifically, the Heal points garnered from their Week 2 win over Class C North contestant Oceanside. The Phoenix won their crossover with a Class C opponent, too, but it was Freeport, which finished 1-7 in the South.

Both the Phoenix and Falcons are coming off Week 8 losses to the conference’s two best teams. Spruce Mountain fell to Madison, 44-8. Mountain Valley, which had its three-game winning streak snapped by Madison, 12-8, the week before, couldn’t stop Wells, 54-0.

The most shocking thing about the Wells score is that the Falcons had been playing outstanding defense leading into last week. Prior to giving up just 12 points to a high-powered Madison attack, the defense went 10 consecutive quarters without giving up a point. Led by linebackers Hunter Ames and Curtis Gauvin, the Falcons hope to return to that form.

The Phoenix will also be looking to tighten up after allowing Madison to score on all five of its first-half possessions last week. Linebackers Nick Lombardi, Logan Jack Bryant and Austin White and defensive tackle Trent Tibbetts will be key to slowing down Mountain Valley’s ground-and-pound offense.

That unorthodox spin single wing offense might take time for the Phoenix to adjust to, although seeing it last season and this preseason will help them adapt.

Spinback Dylan Desroches (the Falcons’ QB equivalent) and halfback Jacob Blanchard, who scored a touchdown in last year’s game, are both threats to break a long run whenever they touch the ball. But whoever touches it for the Falcons will have to hold onto it better than they did last week against Wells (four turnovers).

Spruce Mountain has big-play capability in its double-wing with junior running back Kayle Stewart. Tate Walton, Logan Smith and QB Brett Frey help Stewart in the ground-oriented attack, but Frey can make plays in the passing game utilizing Stewart, Smith and Lombardi as his prime targets.


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