Morse wide receiver Elliott Dorr lunges to make a sideline catch in the end zone during a Oct. 2 game against Ellsworth in Bath. Photo provided by Soggy Dog Designs

There is plenty at stake Friday night when the Morse football team hosts Waterville at McMann Field.

After all, the Purple Panthers (4-1) and Shipbuilders (5-1) are the top two teams in eight-man large North division. The winner will secure the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

Both teams are coming off impressive victories; Morse beat Camden Hills 44-30, a team it had previously lost to earlier in the season. Waterville came back from 14 down in the second half to stun Mount Desert Island, 30-28 in overtime. The Panthers played without quarterback Liam Van Osen, who was out with an injury.

When asked if he’ll be available for Friday’s game, Waterville head coach Isaac LeBlanc was non-committal.

“He’s getting better,” said LeBlanc.

Offensive firepower won’t be lacking in this matchup of two powerful teams. Waterville has scored 242 points in five games while the Shipbuilders have posted 302 points in six games. Even without Van Oesen, the Purple Panthers have scored 30 points or more in each of their last two games.


Mount View safety Brock Cassidy (2) intercepts a pass intended for Waterville receiver Billy Pace (42) during a Sept. 11 game in Thorndike. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Here’s a closer look at how the game of the week may unfold:

When: 7 p.m., Friday

Where: McMann Stadium, Bath

Waterville coach Isaac LeBlanc on Morse: “Morse is a very good program. They are very balanced on both sides of the ball. They have good core run plays, they run very well, have several athletes, and throw the ball for sure.”

Morse coach Jason Darling on Waterville: “Waterville seems to be very dynamic on offense and quick to the ball on defense. They are very athletic, something we’ll need to match on both sides of the ball.”

Keys to the game: If Van Oesen is healthy and able to go, a battle of dynamic quarterbacks will be on display with Van Oesen and Josh ter Mors of Morse. Both teams feature high-powered running attacks — Tyson Smith and Billy Place pace Waterville while Gabe Aucoin and Ben Doughty lead Morse. All four running backs, along with Tyson Pinkham of Morse, have the ability to break off a long run at any moment. Aidan Sirios and Alex Maccio will be a matchup to watch on the line. Both coaches had similar responses when asked what are the biggest keys to the game for their team.

“We need to stay disciplined and tackle well on defense,” said Darling. “We can’t afford to turn the ball over and give their offense extra opportunities.”

Added LeBlanc: “It may be a bit cliche but we need to stay disciplined and keep our focus. It’s going to be a high-energy type of game playing on their field. We need to stay well-rounded in all three phases of the game to walk out of Bath with a win.”

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