The top high school football teams in Maine play all season for a high seed in the playoffs. In Class A, that high seed earns the top two teams in the East and the West a first-round bye.

The benefit of a bye is you get to rest while your opponent is playing a quarterfinal game. The downsides are the potential to get rusty and practicing for a week without knowing your next opponent.

“The bye is what you make of it,” said Bonny Eagle Coach Kevin Cooper, whose team is the No. 2 seed in Western Class A and will host Biddeford in a semifinal Friday night. “After the regular season, everyone is a little beat up. It allows us to get a little healthier.

“It also lets us work on some areas of our game that we felt we needed to improve on. With the bye, you can do this without having to worry about preparing for an upcoming opponent.”

In the other Western A semifinal, Scarborough plays at Thornton Academy on Saturday. In the East, Portland plays at Windham on Friday night and Bangor plays at top-seeded Cheverus on Saturday.

Thornton, the No. 1 seed in the West, worked “on a little bit of everything” during its bye week, said Tyler Fleurant, a co-captain and linebacker for the Golden Trojans. “It was a little harder to focus on defense … because we didn’t know what offense we would be facing.”

The bye week benefited Fleurant.

“I’ve had my share of bumps and bruises,” he said. “It gives me an extra week to get healthy. I think it’s a real advantage for a team to have a bye week.”

The Golden Trojans’ practices were shorter and at a quicker pace.

“We were more up-tempo with less reps,” said Coach Kevin Kezal. “We made a list before the week to help us focus on what we needed to get better at.”

Windham Coach Matt Perkins compared the bye week to preseason.

“We get back to some drills we haven’t done since preseason and focus on the little things,” he said. “It’s a chance for us to reflect on what we do well and to get better on some things we don’t do well.”

Like in the NFL where teams have bye weeks and give players a few days off, high school players also got some time off last week.

Windham gave its players Saturday off, which is usually a film day.

Thornton Academy took last Friday off, but was back in the weight room Saturday.

Cheverus Coach John Wolfgram had his team do its normal weightlifting last Monday and then gave the players Tuesday off. They were back at practice Wednesday. Although the Stags didn’t know their opponent, Wolfgram said he spent time during practice anticipating styles of both their potential opponents.

“We worked on things we need to improve on, but also touched on some things Bangor and Oxford Hills do,” said Wolfgram. Bangor defeated the Vikings 24-7 in a quarterfinal Friday night.

“You have to use the bye week in the right way. Overall, I think it’s a positive thing. We have some minor injuries that will allow the players to recuperate. Hopefully, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.”

Last season, having a bye worked very well for Bonny Eagle. Whether it was a factor or not, the Scots ended up winning the Class A state title. Each team that earned a bye in Class A last season won its semifinal game.

“We try to give our players a couple of days off, but we expect them to practice hard and intensely on the days we do practice. Last year, our team did this and it paid off big for us. We were really ready to go by the time of our first playoff game,” Cooper said.

Teams can only hope the bye week works as well for them as it did for Bonny Eagle last year.

Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at [email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH