Foxcroft Academy's Caden Crocker carries the ball during the Class D state championship football game against Lisbon at Cameron Stadium in Bangor, Maine, on Nov. 19, 2022. Credit: Kim Higgins / BDN

Two weeks into the fall season, it’s clear that there is change in the air. Messalonskee has become the team to beat in Class B North, and Oceanside in Class C. Meanwhile, Bangor has already matched its win column from last year, and Hampden Academy looks more energized than ever.

Here are four games that are definitely worth tuning into this weekend.

Hermon at Foxcroft Academy, Friday at 7 p.m.

This interclass contest between the Hermon Hawks and the Foxcroft Academy Ponies will be one of the most informative games happening in Week 3.

Both sides have been rock solid in recent years, with Hermon appearing in the last two Class C North regional finals, and Foxcroft winning back-to-back Class D state titles in that time span.

A win for Foxcroft would prove that it can compete with Class C’s best programs, and a win for Hermon would be the perfect way to bounce back from a disappointing 38-24 loss to Oceanside last week. Moreover, both programs pride themselves on their prosperous feeder systems and community support, so a win for either side will mean a lot for their fans.

Hermon’s offense will be powered by a tough offensive line and backfield corps, including center Anthony Addessi, quarterback Bruce Coulter and running back Alec Smith. Coulter scampered for all four Hawk touchdowns this past week against Oceanside, flexing his speed, tenacity and grit.

Foxcroft Academy is a juggernaut all around, averaging 46 points scored and 8.9 points allowed last year. The Ponies have a star-studded class of 2024, including running back and kicker Kemsley Marsters, quarterback Wyatt Rayfield, slot back Jadon Richard and running back Gage Beaudry. Rayfield accounted for 34 Foxcroft touchdowns last year.

Skowhegan at Bangor, Friday at 7 p.m.

The 0-2 Skowhegan River Hawks are reigning Class B state champions trending in the wrong direction, and the 1-1 Bangor Rams are coming off a 1-7 season last year, trying to rack up more wins.

Bangor kicked things off with an emphatic 21-6 win over Lawrence Week 1 before falling to Windham 35-6 this past weekend, which happened to beat Skowhegan 35-0 the week prior. Bangor will look to keep the ball rolling Friday against Skowhegan, which is yet to score a single point all season.

Skowhegan is fielding a young team after graduating a heavy senior class that was integral to its success last year. Moreover, the River Hawks are commandeered by a new head coach this year, Brad Cyr, which naturally alters the pace of a program rebuild.

Over in the Rams’ camp, Bangor returned a lot of its key players this offseason, and needs this win to legitimize the program’s revitalization. Senior quarterback Jack Schuck, senior lineman Isaac Osborne, and sophomore running back Kyle Johnson have been solid for Bangor so far this year, and will lead the Ram attack this Friday night.

“It starts with all 11 of us on the field,” Schuck said. “If all of us do our job and do it well, we can move the ball and no one’s stopping us.”

In Bangor’s opening night win, Shuck showed off his capabilities as a dual-threat quarterback, going for 138 yards on 9-for-17 passing, and 75 yards rushing (plus a touchdown) on 11 carries. Johnson has proven himself as a reliable piece of the Rams’ ground game, pounding for two touchdowns against Lawrence.

“Being a freshman last year, and losing all the time, getting that first win under our belt this year will just propel us that much further,” Johnson said.

Hampden Academy at Oceanside, Friday at 7 p.m.

With convincing wins over Cape Elizabeth and Hermon in weeks one and two, the Oceanside Mariners have emerged as the team to beat in Class C North. Their offense was completely overhauled in 2022 by Big 11 Coach of the Year Sam Weiss, and this year their run defense has drastically improved.

“Our goal is to be state champions,” senior Oceanside quarterback Cohen Galley said. “Everyone got a little older, a little more mature. The biggest part of this year was our line.”

Hampden Academy has also experienced big changes to their coaching staff, with Robenson Saintard and company coming over this offseason to reinvigorate the Broncos’ football program.

“The energy and the excitement is unmatched to any other year,” Hampden junior lineman Reed Manhart said. “Everyone’s happy to be here, and everyone wants to play football.”

This fall, Hampden put up three touchdowns in a 36-22 loss to reigning Class C North champs Medomak Valley, and then blanked a young Brewer team 28-0. But Hampden decidedly has more to prove than Oceanside, and their trip to Rockland will be another good test for the Broncos.

“[Oceanside] is a great team and seems to be well-coached, but with this momentum we have I’m excited to see our guys play them,” Saintard said.

This Friday, expect Hampden to turn to the duo of captains Nick Johnston (junior quarterback) and Aiden Kochendoerfer (junior wide receiver), and big numbers from Oceanside trio Cohen Galley, Carter Galley (senior wide receiver) and Aiden Sergent (senior running back).

Cony at Messalonskee, Friday at 7 p.m.

The Messalonskee Eagles have been a pleasant surprise in the Class B North title race so far this season, dominating Falmouth away 47-8, and then Gardiner at home 35-0. Logging a combined 5-12 record the two seasons prior, hopes of a breakout 2023 season could be crushed this Friday, as Messalonskee takes on a hardy Cony Rams team.

Cony has been a top team in Class B North for several consecutive years now, beating Messalonskee annually along the way. The last time the Rams lost to the Eagles was in 2016, and Cony has no plans to have its winning streak broken this Friday night.

Messalonskee, meanwhile, has a chance to vanquish its demons in front of its home crowd, and keep their unexpected and undefeated campaign going. Quarterback Tatum Doucette, wide receiver Brady Brunelle and running back Garrett Card will lead the charge for the Eagles on Friday. It’s sophomore signal caller Doucette’s first year starting under center.

Sam Canfield is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, and the Bangor Daily News' newest sports reporter. He loves to examine the narratives and motivations behind Maine's most exciting athletes...