Saturday, April 19, 2014
Leavitt still features Jordan Hersom, the talented senior quarterback who can change a game in a hurry. Gardiner came in with Alonzo Connor, who rushed for 2,032 yards and 32 touchdowns last season. And new addition Mt. Blue, with quarterback Jordan Whitney and receiver Cam Sennick, would be dangerous as well.
The Pine Tree Conference Class B was thought to be a three-team race heading into the season, with the Hornets, Tigers and Cougars vying for the title and subsequent trip to Fitzpatrick Stadium for the Class B state championship game.
Waterville would like to change this, and it will have a chance to make a statement Friday night at Hoch Field in Gardiner.
The teams, both 2-0, will kick off at 7 p.m.
“It’s a big early game,” said Waterville coach Frank Knight. “It’s maybe a bigger game for us. But the team that does lose will be able to recover.”
Yes, but the winner will have a firm grasp on a top-three finish.
Here’s a look at the two teams heading into Friday night’s showdown ...
• Waterville has not defeated Gardiner since the teams moved to Class B for the 2005 season. The Tigers have won six consecutive meetings, outscoring the Panthers 182-101 in that stretch.
• Anyone remember the 2009 game, which Gardiner won 44-27 at Hoch Field?
It was in that game the Tigers made Connor their feature tailback. Connor torched Waterville for 278 yards and a pair of scores on 29 carries.
After the game, Connor said, “I just wanted to show the coaches what I was made of.”
Well, he made a believer out of everyone that night.
In two games against Waterville, Connor has rushed for 450 yards on 55 carries for an average of 8.1 yards a carry.
• Eddie Donnell, Gardiner’s key interior lineman, will play Friday. Coach Matt Burgess said how much remains to be seen.
“He won’t go out there and play 48 plays,” he said. “We need to be careful.”
Donnell is recovering from an ankle injury.
• Running backs Racean Wood (168 yards), Aaron Saucier (194) and J.T. Whitten (216) have carried the Waterville ground game, giving the Panthers a balanced and potent backfield.
• Gardiner center Justin Pottle on the game: “If we can come out at 3-0 it would show the rest of the league what we are made of.”Tweet
Travis Lazarczyk has worked at the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal since 2000. He covers football, basketball and baseball. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/tlazarmaine