When it comes to playing games on the statewide stage, the Lawrence High School football team has been here numerous times over the last seven years. Cony, on the other hand, is new to this big game thing, but that doesn’t make the Rams any less eager to play at Keyes Field tonight.
“This is a No. 1 versus a No. 2. There might be teams from down south who will come up and see what we are all about,” Cony quarterback Ben Lucas said. “We’ll have to be up on our game. This is a huge game. We have to come out and show who we really are.”
Lawrence is 6-0 and once again at the top of the Pine Tree Conference Class A division. Cony, 5-1, is in the middle of its best season in two decades. A win puts Cony in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the upcoming playoffs. For Lawrence, this is the first of three consecutive games against tough competition. The Bulldogs finish the regular season at Brunswick (5-1) and at home against Messalonskee (5-1).
“We think it’s a plus for us to be facing tough competition with these teams that we have remaining. We want it to be that way,” Lawrence head coach John Hersom said. “Our guys are very prideful, very competitive. We like to be challenged this way, especially at the end of the season.”
The Bulldogs certainly will be challenged by a Cony offense that averages just over 42 points per game. The top quarterback in the conference, Lucas has as many touchdown passes (22) as the next four top quarterbacks in the league combined.
“We present problems for them offensively. What we do offensively is tough to cover,” Cony head coach Robby Vachon said. “This is as good as we’ve ever been going to Lawrence since I’ve been coaching.”
Cony receiver Chandler Shostak leads the conference with 29 catches for 417 yards and 10 touchdowns. Other top receivers for the Rams include running back Brandon St. Michel (20 catches for 312 yards, four TDs), Taylor Carrier (24 catches for 275, four TDs), Jonathen Saban (14 catches for 270, one TD), and Dayshawn Roberts (16 catches for 170 yards, three TDs).
When the Rams run, St. Michel leads the way with 455 yards and six touchdowns.
“It’s an exciting challenge for us. We’ve been looking at some film all week,” Lawrence safety Spencer Carey said. “It’s similar to Skowhegan, but (Cony) executes it better. We’re just going to have to be ready for it.”
Averaging just over 47 points per game, Lawrence is the only team in the league outscoring Cony. The Bulldogs have a number of talented running backs led by seniors Anthony Sementelli (656 yards, 13 TDs) and Josh Doolan (439 yards, nine TDs).
Lawrence doesn’t throw nearly as much as Cony, but when it does, it’s been effective. Four of Carey’s eight completions went for touchdowns, and Carey averages 31 yards per completion. Jake Doolan has three catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
“They do a lot of things really well. They have a lot of senior leadership. They get off the ball really well,” Vachon said. “Defensively, they are fast and they get a lot of movement up front. They’re tough, but I think we match up well.”
The Bulldogs defense is led by senior linebacker Luke Lawrence, who has 49 tackles. Cony has to be prepared for Lawrence’s speed and pressure. Eriq Stewart has a pair of sacks, as does Carey. Jake Doolan has three sacks for the Bulldogs.
“We definitely will have to know where our check-downs are. But this is nothing new to us. Messalonskee brought the house against us. Brunswick brought the house against us. We handled it,” Lucas said.
Cony’s defense is led by linebackers Reid Shostak (67 tackles) and Kyle Elvin (59 tackles). Chandler Shostak has five interceptions.
“It seems like they feed off their linebackers quite a bit, emotionally,” Hersom said. “They’re playing much tougher against the run this year. It’s going to be a good challenge for our guys up front, and we hope to be able to run the football with the success that we’ve had so far this season.”
Staff Writer Bill Stewart contributed to this story.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242