The early-round blowouts have been taken care of in Class B and Class C football, and regional championship hardware is at stake for eight-man teams.

Maine’s high school football playoffs get more interesting, more intense and likely more competitive this weekend.

Here’s a look at four games that seem especially intriguing, each a rematch from the regular season. And when it comes to the playoffs, defense matters.

Mt. Ararat/Hyde (7-1) at Cheverus (6-0), Saturday, 12:30 p.m.

The Large School South final pits arguably the top two teams among the 25 that played eight-man football in 2021. Mt. Ararat, the inaugural eight-man state champions in 2019, has the largest enrollment of schools playing eight-man. Cheverus has the largest roster, with over 40 players. In the regular season, Cheverus trailed Mt. Ararat 32-28 at the half. The Stags won 44-32 and haven’t been scored on, posting three shutouts, including a 44-0 playoff win against Lake Region.

“We’ve got to understand it’s going to be a 48-minute football game,” said Cheverus Coach Mike Vance.

Cheverus has a core of seniors, led by center/defensive tackle Braden Smith, who have playoff experience from 2019 when the Stags advanced to the B South semifinals.

“They have a good understanding of what it takes to win in the postseason,” Vance said.

Cheverus will need to contain Mt. Ararat’s two-headed running attack of junior Shea Farrell and senior Kaiden Getchell.

“They have a pretty formidable combination of a really good scheme and two very talented running backs who run hard,” Vance said.

Noble (7-2) at Portland (9-0), Friday, 7 p.m.

The Class B South semifinal is a rematch of Portland’s 21-6 at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Noble held Portland to its lowest scoring output of the season and trailed 7-0 at the half.

“It was probably our worst offensive output of the season and some of that has to do with what Noble did against us,” said Portland Coach Jason McLeod. “We have to be better than last time, simple as that.”

Portland has outscored its opposition 346-75. The Bulldogs’ first-team defense has not allowed a score in the last four games since a 28-14 win at Marshwood.

“Our defense is the best defense in the conference, and quite frankly any team we’ll play this year, it will be the best defense they’ve seen,” McLeod said.

Senior Brandon Boyle has received warranted praise as Portland’s top running back. Boyle’s value on defense could be even greater. He’s played inside and outside linebacker, end, cornerback and safety. Defensive back Kennedy Charles finds the ball. Defensive tackle Xander Smith, a junior, is getting better every week “and is a menace to block,” McLeod said.

Noble won its first playoff game, 10-7 against South Portland, and will look to keep the game low scoring so it can feature top back Anthony Prak.

Marshwood (6-3) at Kennebunk (7-2), Friday, 6 p.m.

If the regular-season finale between these teams, won by Kennebunk, 42-35, is an indication, the other Class B South semifinal will be full of momentum swings.

After Marshwood’s dynamic Cam Cornett turned a simple catch in the flat into a 67-yard TD on the Hawks’ first possession, Kennebunk rattled off 21 straight points behind the running of David York (130 yards) and Matthew Moore (77 yards), with an occasional precision pass by QB Keegan Andrews.

Then Marshwood scored 28 straight points behind the play of Andrew Goodwin (TD run, TD catch, blocked punt) to take a 35-21 lead. Kennebunk closed the game with a 21-point spree in the last four minutes, capped by a 48-yard heave from Andrews to Moore with under 30 seconds to play.

Both teams gained 386 total yards. Both were hurt by mistakes. Kennebunk had three turnovers, one when a kickoff caromed off an up-man, and a punt blocked. Marshwood fumbled on Kennebunk’s 7 late in the first half, had an interception wiped out by penalty and failed to cover an onside kick when leading 35-27.

In this game, one fourth-quarter stop could be the difference.

Skowhegan (5-4) at Windham (7-0), Friday, 7 p.m.

Windham has controlled Class B North from the start of the season by doing everything well – particularly on defense. The Eagles have allowed only 40 points and limited teams to one touchdown or fewer in six of their seven games.

A 21-7 win at home against Skowhegan was Windham’s toughest test. Skowhegan trailed 14-7 when quarterback Adam Savage was intercepted by Will Ledbetter early in the fourth quarter. Ledbetter then led a 97-yard Windham scoring drive, 83 yards coming through the air. Windham forced turnovers on Skowhegan’s next two drives, too, to secure the win.

“(Skowhegan has) guys who can score right now so we have to swarm to the ball,” Perkins said. “We want to make them drive the field on us. That’s been our m.o. all year.”

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