The first week of the high school football season in Bourne in recent years typically means a cross-rotary clash between the Canalmen and the Upper Cape Tech Rams.

Over the last four seasons, the two Bourne teams — once companions in a cooperative program — have squared off for supremacy in the battle by the Bourne Bridge.

Upper Cape Tech had won the first two meetings, claiming a victory in the first-ever meeting on September 25, 2015. The Rams outlasted the Canalmen in an offensive shootout, 40-34, in the third game of the regular season.

Every game after the initial meeting opened the season for both teams, as UCT followed up their first victory with a convincing 30-14 win on Bourne’s home turf of Jackson Field in 2016. The Canalmen bucked that trend in 2017, which was the first year for Rams’ head coach Ken Owen — a longtime friend of Bourne head coach John McIntyre. Bourne scored in all three phases of the game en route to a 32-6 beatdown to put them in the win column for the first time in the cross-rotary showdown.

Last year was the first time the game was ever play on a Saturday and at the UCT campus. It was also the first time either team failed to reach 30 points. In a defensive struggle between two eventual playoff teams, the Canalmen left victorious, 19-6.

Fast forward to Friday, September 6,—the game will once again be played under the lights at Jackson Field. Both teams have aspirations of deep playoff runs. They also would like to be on the winning end of things when the clock reads zero to break the 2-2 all-time series tie between the in-town, nonleague rivals.

With the two squads coming off impressive 2018 campaigns—Bourne reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and UCT being a surprise Mayflower Athletic Conference winner—they look to dominate in similar ways. The Canalmen will shift from their pass-happy offense in 2018 to a stable of running backs in 2019, anchored by seniors Jaimon Scott and Josh Gonzalez. UCT also features two prominent runners in its backfield, with seniors Juzary Salim and Kemrin Glover.

And while both teams are on the smaller end with rosters in the 30s, UCT returns 23 seniors to a team that reached the Division 8 South sectional semifinals and the MIAA small school vocational state final. Bourne returns a number of key players, particularly on defense with seven returning starters, but feature a level of unknown at the quarterback position.

With departure of the strong-armed James Cahoon to graduation, junior Shawn McDonough, who played receiver on offense last season, will step under center in the Canalmen’s spread offense. Though he does have a quality arm, McDonough’s best attributes are his speed and legs. The same could be said for sophomore backup Joe Carrara, as McIntyre said he expects both players to see time at quarterback this season.

For the Rams, second-year starter Thomas Zine is back under center. Buzz around the UCT preseason was the junior’s noticeable comfort in the offense and his penchant for precision in practice. He’ll be looking to sure-handed senior wideout Andrew Brightman for completion as well as the shifty Glover out of the backfield.

Either way, both defenses will have its hands full come kickoff on Friday.

The Pick: UCT 31, Bourne 22 — The Canalmen have the opportunity to put forth another strong season, but there are more moving parts with the roster than with the Rams. With a greater sense of continuity, UCT jumps out in front of this young all-time series matchup between Bourne schools.

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