WINSLOW — Every time one of the Winslow High School running backs breaks into the second level of the defense and uses a burst of speed for a big gain — and it happens a lot — the veterans on the Black Raiders’ offensive line think the same thing.
“We just did our job successfully,” center Sean Cote said.
Winslow is 5-1 and in the hunt for home field advantage throughout the Campbell Conference Class C playoffs. The Black Raiders have excelled in the run game this season, and that’s in large part due to the work of four seniors on the line: Cote, left guard Jon Farrell, left tackle Brock Deschaine, and tight end Owen Dutil.
“Some of the offseason preparation has been better,” Winslow head coach Mike Siviski said. “They worked in the weight room and worked hard on conditioning, particularly Dutil. He’s an excellent blocker. He can catch the ball, too, we just haven’t thrown the ball much. We practice throwing the ball a lot, and we really haven’t thrown that much this year.”
Winslow hasn’t thrown the ball much because it hasn’t had to. In four of the last five games, the running trio of Joseph Hopkins, Zach Guptil and Dylan Hapworth each ran for at least 70 yards. The one game it didn’t happen was when the Black Raiders went to the reserves early in a win at Sacopee Valley.
In last week’s 40-14 win at Maranacook, Hopkins ran for 223 yards, while Hapworth gained 92 and Guptil 77. Against Yarmouth (a 34-8 win), Hopkins ran for 155, with Hapworth going for 102 and Guptil 95.
“We’re being more aggressive and just looking to hit people,” Dutil said.
Opening holes comes from a commitment to fundamentals, the linemen say.
“I thinking holding blocks is the biggest thing so far. We’ve been going through the whistle,” Farrell said.
Added Deschaine: “We’re just holding our blocks so our backs can get through the line. Everyone blocking together, at the same time, you know everyone’s got your back. Everyone’s going to be there.”
Deschaine and Cote are three-year starters on Winslow’s offensive line.
“Brock Deschaine has been around a long time, Sean Cote, too. Farrell has been an outstanding defensive lineman for us,” Siviski said. “He’s playing guard right now, but he’s been an outstanding defensive person for us for three years. He’s awfully quick, very hard to block.”
The four seniors say they’ve built a strong rapport on the field, and work well together.
“For me and Jon, if there’s a guy right between us, I know he can do a punch and go and I can pick him up, or vice versa,” Cote said. “Staying together is the main thing, really. We can’t fall apart halfway through a game.”
Winslow hosts Boothbay on Saturday, and closes the regular season at Lisbon on Oct. 20. The Black Raiders could finish in first place in the conference, or fall as far as sixth. Winslow is tied for third place with Oak Hill now, but owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Raiders.
For now, the focus is on Boothbay.
“We’re getting that team unity. We’re getting everyone going,” Deschaine said. “You can’t get ahead of yourself. You just have to take it one game at a time.”
Added Siviski: “Every week is a challenge. In this league, anybody can beat anybody.”
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242