Edward Little (0-8) and Lewiston (1-7) will face off at Don Roux Field on Friday night and despite their records, both head coaches are pleased with their players’ mentality heading into the final week of each team’s season. 

“Surprisingly, with all the struggles, we are in a pretty good headspace,” Lewiston football coach Justin Bisson said. “Even last week against Portland, we lost 42-0 but it wasn’t one of those drubbings. We played well but just made mistakes. The guys, we watched film and showed the good plays, we are making strides and getting better but unfortunately it’s not translating to the scoreboard. We are a 1-7 team but we don’t play like a 1-7 team the whole game.”

Before the Blue Devils’ fourth game of the season, Darren Hartley resigned as head coach of the team, citing exhaustion. Bisson was named the interim head coach and has led the Blue Devils to a 1-4 record. 

“The guys have really responded well,” Bisson said. “Obviously it was a really tough thing and we don’t deal with change all that well throughout the season, but the guys have responded. We’ve loosened up the practices, we brought some music into them and we are trying to have a little bit more fun at practice. The kids have seemed to respond well to it and are trying harder. The first couple days, we had our heads down but we are playing four quarters now and the attitudes are a lot better. You can tell when they come off the field they have smiles on their face and they’re having fun.”

David Sterling, head coach of Edward Little, said his team has battled in every game until the final whistle. 

“Football teaches hard lessons but teaches lessons in life,” Sterling said. “It’s been on third-and-long and we’ve done really well playing with our opponents but it’s that third and long, that extra player, that extra step to make the play. A lot of our guys have really understood that and we’ve got a young team, and to see that and translate has been good. A lot of our guys last week were excited after Thornton Academy (Thornton defeated Edward Little 42-14 on Friday) because they’ve never been that close to Thornton Academy to be able to stop them on plays and get in the game. That’s what we’ve been emphasizing this week.”

Both sides have been trying to teach their players what the rivalry means to their respective teams, alumni and their communities. 

“The Edward Little pride as they step onto the football field,” Sterling said. “We are trying to teach them about the historical aspect of what they are doing and the long line of people that have played before them. There are people all across the country that will text me or message our Facebook page. It’s part of the heritage that they have to understand that they’ve always got to fight until the end.”

Same goes for across the Androscoggin River.

“We are trying to teach them a bit of the tradition,” Bisson added. “We have a bunch of alumni on the coaching staff so we are sharing stories with them. For me, this is actually 25 years since I have played and my EL game we set the school rushing record. We had 395 yards of rushing in one game. We put that challenge out that I would love that record broken by this group, but also, I want to keep it. We are teaching them the respect and tradition of the game. We are telling them that no matter what the record is, it’ll be a good game. EL is looking for its first win, we only have one win but we’d like to keep the Alan Clark Trophy here, get our second win and finish the season on a good note.”

Sterling cited seniors Jack Keefe, Jason Brooker and Gavin Lepage as linchpins in the Edward Little team, while Bisson said quarterback Donovan Jackson has been a leader “on and off the field” and has garnered the respect of his team.

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