On paper, it appears that Mark Soehren-led Oxford Hills and Mike Hathaway-led Leavitt are meeting for the first time on the gridiron — and, technically, they are — but the two coaches and their programs have crossed paths quite a lot in recent years.

Saturday night’s matchup in Turner is one that fans have been clamoring for since last year, when both teams went undefeated on their way to state titles, even though they play two classes apart.

Playing opposition up a class didn’t faze the Class C champ Hornets last year when they beat Class A Lewiston and Class B Portland and Lawrence.

And dueling with reigning Class A champ Oxford Hills on Saturday(7 p.m.) won’t be as stunning of an experience as it might seem.

“We have some familiarity, having played these guys growing up, and we play freshmen and JV every year, and spent a Lobster Bowl week together this summer,” Hathaway said. “So we both know each other fairly well for having never played an actual varsity game.”

Soehren echoed that sentiment of familiarity in non-varsity games, and also noted that a recent relaxation on inter-class scheduling has presented the Vikings with other new opponents.


The schools don’t match up in enrollment (Oxford Hills’ 1,055 students nearly doubles Leavitt’s 572) but are only 20 miles apart. And the two teams often find themselves close together at the top of the Friday night highlights.

They enter the Week 4 showdown with matching 14-game winning streaks that started at the beginning of last season. And after both teams graduated numerous key contributors from their repsective championship squads, this year’s versions have picked up where the 2022 teams left off.

Leavitt is among the highest-scoring teams in the state, with 153 points through three games. The Hornets have only given up 28 points in that span.

The Vikings also are already over the century mark for points scored, with 103, and have been twice as stingy defensively, allowing only 14 points so far, with two shutouts.

“They are big, athletic, have great edge players and all 11 run to the ball,” Hathaway said of the Oxford Hills defense. “Sound schemes, well-coached and don’t make a lot of mistakes.”

The Vikings defense will look to contain last year’s Maine Gatorade Player of the Year, Noah Carpenter, who already has seven touchdowns passing and seven rushing. And when the senior quarterback hands it off, Will Keach and Maddox Demers have combined for seven more Leavitt rushing touchdowns. The two runners are also capable targets for Carpenter.


Soehren said the Vikings need to find a way to limit Leavitt’s running game.

“We can’t give up big plays,” he added. “Turnovers are always a gamechanger.”

Oxford Hills’ offense is no slouch.

Brady Truman has taken over at quarterback for last year’s Fitzpatrick Trophy winner, Eli Soehren, and has kept the ball moving and the scoreboard changing. Truman has nine touchdown passes and scored one on the ground. He’s already passed for more than 800 yards with a 65.6% completion percentage.

Favorite targets Nick Binette and Brayden Murch each have at least one touchdown catch in all three games so far. And Hunter Tardiff has led the running game with 113 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries.

“Mark does a nice job with their schemes,” Hathaway said. “There is a lot there to handle.”


As if this matchup needed any more hype, it is scheduled to be played Saturday night, rather than the typical Friday night, for Leavitt’s Homecoming celebration.

“An extra day helps in that it gives an extra day of rest before the game and allows us to install plays and teach fundamentals at a slightly less hectic pace,” Soehren said.

Hathaway agreed that the extra day of preparation doesn’t hurt.

“Everyone is one day healthier, and you get a few extra periods in there Friday to tie up some loose ends,” he said.

But …

“On the other hand, as Tom Petty would say, the waiting is the hardest part,” Hathaway added. “It takes a long time to get to 7 p.m. on Saturday, and there will be some anxiousness to kick the ball off, for sure.”

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