Some recent chatter among the closest of high school football followers suggests that Brunswick may be the best team in the state’s North region regardless of class this season.
But that’s not the Dragons’ concern.
The two-time defending Class B North champion is focused instead on winning the gold ball this year after falling to Marshwood of South Berwick in the 2014 and 2015 state championship games.
Coach Dan Cooper’s club displayed its preparedness for another deep postseason run last weekend by completing a five-game stretch against the closest competition within its division unscathed with a decisive 42-12 win over second-seeded and previously unbeaten Brewer.
In its consecutive victories over Lawrence of Fairfield, Cony of Augusta, Messalonskee of Oakland, Skowhegan and Brewer — schools with a combined 19-6 record against anybody but Brunswick — the 6-0 Dragons had an average winning margin of 37.2 points.
Brunswick, the state’s highest-scoring team with 308 points, is poised to regain the division’s No. 1 seed with two weeks remaining in the regular season — for every division but Class D North. But the battle for playoff positioning elsewhere in the region offers considerable intrigue as the schedule winds down.
Brewer (5-1) owns a one-game lead for second place in B North over three rivals, and the Witches have a key home game Friday night against 4-2 Messalonskee of Oakland. That game could potentially be decisive in determining if coach Nick Arthers’ club can join Brunswick in earning a first-round bye in the six-team playoff field.
After visiting Brewer, Messalonskee closes out its regular season at Lawrence of Fairfield, also 4-2 after four-straight victories. That could be a preview of a first-round playoff matchup.
Skowhegan, the No. 3 seed, is 4-2 with only losses to Brunswick and Brewer, and the Indians will be favored in their last two games against Cony of Augusta and at Mt. Blue of Farmington.
Cony, Hampden Academy and Mt. Blue are all 2-4 and battling for the final playoff berth. Cony is in the best position to advance as it leads its other two challengers in the Crabtree point ratings and already has defeated Mt. Blue and Hampden this fall.
Mount Desert Island’s come-from-behind 20-19 win over previously unbeaten Madison/Carrabec on Friday night leaves those teams and two-time defending state champion Winslow all at 5-1 — with the potential for a three-way tie atop the standings when the regular season ends.
Madison/Carrabec previously beat Winslow, while Winslow has defeated MDI.
If all three teams win out, Crabtree points would determine the final standings because the teams don’t play identical schedules. Winslow and Old Town tied for first place last fall and had played identical schedules but did not play each other, with Old Town ultimately winning a coin flip to host the Black Raiders in the regional championship game.
Oceanside of Rockland/Thomaston and Old Town, both 4-2, have their chances to interrupt any three-way scenario this Friday night when Oceanside hosts MDI and Old Town visits Madison/Carrabec. Old Town then plays at MDI in Week 8.
Another key battle this weekend could go a long way toward determining the sixth and final playoff qualifier as No. 6 Foxcroft Academy (3-3) of Dover-Foxcroft plays at No. 7 Belfast (2-4).
The nine-week LTC schedule looks to have five teams in contention for four playoff berths with three weeks left.
Two-time defending regional champion Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield, which pulled away to a 36-2 victory at previously unbeaten Dexter last Saturday, will seek to stretch its LTC winning streak to 27 games Friday night when it hosts Orono in a clash of the league’s remaining undefeated teams.
Both are averaging more than 40 points per game in their 6-0 starts, portending a high-scoring battle as they seek the division’s top seed.
Dexter (5-1) remains solidly in the playoff picture, though the Tigers face major tests against 4-2 Mount View of Thorndike and Orono the next two weekends.
Mount View is the No. 4 seed but has games left against Dexter and MCI, and No. 5 Bucksport is just a game behind the Mustangs at 3-3 but has a more favorable schedule — its remaining opponents are a combined 5-13 — and a Week 5 victory over Mount View already in its pocket for possible tiebreaker use.
Defending North regional champion Portland is 5-1, and with games remaining against 0-6 Bangor and 2-4 South Portland the Bulldogs are expected to secure the top seed.
Second place likely will come down to a Week 8 meeting between Cheverus of Portland (4-2) and Windham (3-3), though 3-3 Oxford Hills/Buckfield can sneak into that picture when it hosts Windham this Friday night.
Edward Little of Auburn (2-4) and Lewiston (1-5) are in position to gain the final two playoff berths.