Seth Leeman, center, of Lisbon High School attempts to break up a pass intended for Beau Schmelzer, right, of Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale during the teams’ regular season meeting in Lisbon in September. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The first Class D South final in three years to not involve Wells is a throwback to one of the most memorable high school football games ever played in Maine.

No. 1 Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale (8-1) hosts No. 2 Lisbon (7-2) at Maxwell Field (7 p.m., Friday night) in both schools’ first regional final since the epic 2016 championship slugfest that saw the Ramblers take the lead on an 18-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-12 with 16 seconds left, only to have the Greyhounds answer with a 55-yard Hail Mary pass followed by a 1-yard touchdown run with virtually no time left to win, 20-17.

The seniors suiting up for Friday night’s game who were freshmen that unforgettable day were sideline spectators for the remarkable finish. But they will have a chance to add a chapter to what continues to be one of the region’s most enduring football rivalries.

Unlike the 2016 classic, the most recent edition of the rivalry didn’t cause any hearts to skip a beat. The Ramblers went to Thompson Field on Sep. 28 and thoroughly dismantled the Greyhounds, 49-14. Both teams went into the game with 2-1 records, and both scored on their first possession. But the visitors dominated the rest of the way, opening a 29-7 lead by halftime.

One of the reasons Lisbon couldn’t keep pace that day was Winthrop’s run defense, which limited the Greyhounds to 13 yards on the ground. Lisbon’s running attack has improved substantially since then, however, and no doubt got the Ramblers’ attention with the 401 yards it chewed up in last week’s 48-20 semifinal win over Oak Hill.

The challenge Lisbon’s running game could present the Ramblers this time is that they have the personnel to get their yardage inside or outside. Running backs Cam Bourget and Justin Le are the thumpers inside. Quarterback Seth Leeman, who rushed for 188 yards and three long touchdowns against Oak Hill, and running back Daytona McIver are the speedsters who like to get outside but can also do damage between the tackles. And Lisbon coach Chris Kates isn’t afraid to put defenses in a quandary by having all four in the backfield in T and power-I formations.

The success of the running game against Oak Hill meant Leeman only had to attempt one pass last week. But Lisbon’s air attack is good enough to keep the Ramblers honest, especially if Leeman can connect with speedster Riley Quatrano on a big play or two. They did it three times for 103 yards in the first meeting.

Big plays plagued Lisbon’s defense in the first meeting with the Ramblers. QB Keegan Choate hooked up with Beau Schmelzer and Ryan Baird on long pass plays for two of his three touchdowns on the day. The senior threw for 1,325 yards with 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions with an eye-popping QB rating of 119.0 this year.

What makes the Ramblers so tough to stop is they can spread a defense out and let Choate operate through the air or line up in a power formation and run the ball using a variety of talented ball-carriers. They gained nearly 1,800 yards on the ground during the regular season without a single player eclipsing 500 yards. Ian Steele (424 yards), Logan Baird (354), Jevin Smith (308) and Choate (207 yards) are all had their moments in an attack that churned out 171 yards in the first meeting with Lisbon.

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