Lisbon’s Seth Leeman, left, breaks up a pass intended for Spruce Mountain’s Brandon Coates during the teams’ meeting last year in Lisbon. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

One of the best games of 2018 was the 30-28 thriller Lisbon won in overtime against Spruce Mountain at Lisbon’s Thompson Field.

Fans flocking to Spruce’s Griffin Field for Friday night’s Class D South clash would fortunate to see a reasonable facsimile of that big-play classic. On paper, one team seems to still have the firepower to pull it off, while another is still searching for its offensive identity.

Spruce Mountain’s Brandon Frey can’t quite reach a pass as Lisbon’s Seth Leeman defends during the teams’ meeting last year in Lisbon. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Both teams went into that game at 2-0 and played a back-and-forth affair worthy of their records. Both teams were stocked with great athletes, including Lisbon quarterback Lucas Francis and running back Isaiah Thompson and Spruce Mountain quarterback Jack Bryant and wide receiver Brandon Frey.

Each duo played a huge part in their teams’ outstanding effort that day. And the Phoenix once again have Bryant and Frey, both seniors now, to lean on in Friday night’s sequel.

Frey is coming off of one of the greatest individual performances in Spruce Mountain history, scoring four touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving) and picking off a pass in the first half, and then returning the opening kick of the second half 73 yards for his fifth touchdown in a 49-14 victory over  Madison/Carrabec.

The Phoenix do whatever they can to get the ball in the hands of their speedster, particularly in open space. Much of the responsibility for that falls on Bryant, who his coaches count on to read the defense and determine whether it will give Frey an opening or sell out to stop him and leave openings for Bryant or other playmakers, such as senior running back Brandon Coates. No one knows better than the Greyhounds that the Bryant alternative can be deadly for a defense, as he racked up over 300 total yards passing and rushing in last year’s game.

Lisbon no longer has Francis and Thompson to match Spruce Mountain’s duo, and their plans to transition from the graduated leaders this season suffered a blow in the first half of its first game when senior QB Seth Leeman was sidelined with a concussion.

After losing that day to Class C South defending champion Fryeburg, 14-6, the Greyhounds rebounded with an impressive 44-6 win over Madison/Carrabec, then had to scratch out a 12-6 win over Mountain Valley. With Leeman back under center, the Greyhounds lost to powerful Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale 49-14 last week.

Leeman went 4-for-7 passing for 118 yards but the Ramblers shut down Lisbon’s running game (13 yards) and put the Greyhounds in catch-up mode early. The Greyhounds can be explosive through the air when Leeman throws to wide receivers Riley Quatrano and Robbie Dick, and the ground game has shown flashes from junior Daytona McIver, who scored three touchdowns against Madison/Carrabec. But they’ll need all hands on deck to match the Phoenix, who minus a 2-0 forfeit win over Dirigo are averaging 40.3 points per game.

The game is vital to the Greyhounds’ hopes for a first-round playoff bye as well as gaining some momentum heading into next week’s game against another Class C opponent, York.

For the Phoenix, Friday is a bit of a statement game. With Class C Poland presenting the only serious challenge during their 4-0 start, a win over a perennial contender will solidify their spot atop the D South standings and boost their confidence heading into a stretch drive that features games with Mountain Valley, Oak Hill and Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale.

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