The Bangor High School football team is enjoying its best regular season in a decade but faces one more major challenge before beginning postseason play.
The Rams travel to South Paris on Friday night seeking its fifth consecutive victory and knowing Oxford Hills has lived up to preseason predictions that it would emerge as one of the top teams in Class A this fall.
Coach Mark Soehren’s Vikings are 6-1 and second in the Class A Crabtree points, with their only loss a 31-23 decision against top-ranked and undefeated Thornton Academy of Saco on Oct. 15.
Oxford Hills’ game last week was canceled due to COVID-19 cases at its scheduled opponent, Scarborough.
Bangor secured its fourth straight victory last Friday, rallying from a 30-23 fourth quarter deficit to defeat Bonny Eagle of Standish 37-30 on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Max Clark to Ryan Howard with 49.5 seconds left.
Coach Dave Morris’ squad is 7-1, marking Bangor’s most regular-season wins since a 7-2 finish in 2011. The Rams also went 7-1 in 2010 and 8-0 in 2009 and won the Eastern Maine Class A championship both years.
Bangor’s quest to host a first-round playoff game next weekend now looks to depend on the outcome of this weekend’s games, as the most recent Crabtree points suggest the Rams’ weak strength of schedule may work against them.
The Crabtree points formula adds each team’s winning percentage to its opponents’ combined winning percentage, with the sum multiplied by 100.
Bangor’s current winning percentage (.875) is second-best in Class A but its opponents’ combined winning percentage (.367) is last.
That latter percentage has been lowered by the Rams’ two non-league games against Class B foes Deering of Portland and Brewer, which finished the regular season with a combined 1-15 record.
Scarborough (4-2) and Bonny Eagle (4-3) — both teams Bangor has defeated this fall — played stronger non-league Class B opposition and as a result could be in position to finish ahead of the Rams along with TA and Oxford Hills in the six-team Class A playoff field. Scarborough defeated 4-4 South Portland and 5-2 Cony of Augusta in non-Class A play while Bonny Eagle topped 6-2 Kennebunk.
Also impacting the winning percentage of Bangor’s opponents is a second game the Rams played against 1-7 Lewiston in Week 7 to give players on both teams the chance to have a full schedule after each team’s original game that weekend was canceled due to COVID-19 issues at the opposing school. Bangor was due to play at 3-3 Sanford.
Bangor and 8-0 Thornton Academy ended up being the only schools among the Class A playoff contenders to play a full schedule through Week 8 of the nine-week season.
The top two finishers in the division earn first-round byes.
Bucksport (2-4) vs. Foxcroft Academy (7-0), 6 p.m. Friday at Dover-Foxcroft: These longtime rivals will close out the Class D regular season at Oakes Field, with Foxcroft looking to complete its first undefeated regular season since 2018. That year FA went 8-0 and Bucksport finished 7-1, then met again in the LTC championship game with Foxcroft earning a 43-26 victory. Foxcroft is coming off a 24-14 win at previously unbeaten Winthrop-Monmouth-Hall-Dale last weekend while Bucksport dropped a 34-20 decision at Lisbon-St. Dominic.
Camden Hills (4-2) vs. Morse (5-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Bath: One of the more intriguing matchups of the eight-player regional semifinals is this third meeting of the fall in the North large-school division between No. 2 Morse and No. 3 Camden Hills. The teams split two earlier matchups, with Camden Hills rallying for a 60-42 win at Bath on Sept. 11 and Morse scoring a 44-30 victory at Rockport on Oct. 8. The survivor will play the winner of Friday’s 2 p.m. semifinal with No. 4 MDI (2-4) at No. 1 Waterville (5-1) in the North final next weekend. Waterville edged MDI 30-28 on Oct. 9.
Stearns-Schenck (3-3) vs. Mattanawcook Academy (5-1), 7 p.m. at Lincoln: Top-seeded Mattanawcook brings a five-game winning streak into its eight-player North small-school semifinal against neighboring Stearns-Schenck. MA defeated fourth-ranked Stearns-Schenck 56-26 on Sept. 17. The winner will play the winner of Friday night’s other semifinal, No. 3 Dexter (3-2) at No. 2 Houlton (3-1), in the North final. Dexter and Houlton have not played yet this fall.