BY BILL STEWART
Cony began its offseason lifting program in November and coach Robby Vachon reported a strong turnout. The weightlifting room was available to players five days a week.
“We had two sessions a day but we are now down to three days a week,” Vachon said. “We’re competing with other sports, like baseball and basketball, and even hockey. But we’ve had a good turnout.”
The Rams will be participating in a number of offseason seven-on-seven tournaments, with the first on July 12.
They’ll compete in a play day at Bonny Eagle that day before going to Leavitt that night.
“We’ll get in as much as we can,” Vachon said. We decided to go all day that day.”
Cony will also compete at a play day July 27 at the University of Maine. Vachon and offensive coordinator B.L. Lippert will host a passing academy camp two days later.
“We have a lot going on,” Vachon said.
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In a move designed to save on electricity costs, Gardiner planned to switch its home games from Friday nights to Saturday afternoons this fall.
However, the boosters club stepped in and provided the money needed to keep the games at Hoch Field on Friday nights.
“We had to revise the schedule but we’ll be going Fridays,” Gardiner coach Matt Burgess said. “The boosters really stepped up.”
Gardiner is ramping up its weightlifting program and several players are attending camps at Bates College.
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The Mt. Blue football team will play on its new field at the school this year, Kevin Vining, whose construction company is spearheading the project, said Wednesday.
“It should be ready to go for the fall,” said Vining, who runs Vining and Son Inc. in Farmington. “Basically, the field itself is done. The light poles are up, the goal posts are up and the sod is growing well. We’re working on the grandstand now. The completion date is the end of August.”
The three-year, $60 million renovation and expansion project is in its final stages. Approved in 2009, the project features new athletic fields at the school.
The Cougars, who won the Class B state championship last season, have played at nearby Kemp Field the last two seasons.
“Kemp Field is a great alternative,” Mt. Blue coach Gary Parlin said. “I don’t worry about the field and whether it’s done because it’s not like we’re playing in a parking lot.”
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In his effort to revamp the offense, new Messalonskee coach Brad Bishop said the focus this offseason will be more conditioning and less lifting.
“We’re getting in shape this summer,” he said. “We plan on running some uptempo stuff. Let’s put the athletes in use. We’re putting a premium on getting in shape. We’re not concentrating on weightlifting.”
Bishop added that 32 players showed for a workout Tuesday night.
“We’re going to be a lot different,” he said. “We’ll have a camp right before the hands-off period and we’ll put our offense in then.”
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New Nokomis coach Matt O’Connell got his first look at his team this week with the first of several summer workouts. He said about 40 players showed up.
“Outstanding turnout,” he said. “Forty kids for a summer workout? That’s pretty exciting.”
O’Connell, 35, of Bangor, spent the last 10 years as an assistant to his brother at John Bapst. He helped the Crusaders win the 2008 Class C state championship.
He came to Nokomis after Haggie Pratt left to take the vacant Mt. View job.
The Warriors went 3-5 in Pine Tree Conference Class B last season. Nokomis would’ve stayed in Class B under the new four-class system but it petitioned the Maine Principals’ Association to drop down to Class C. Although it will be ineligible for postseason play, the Warriors hope to build the program back up before re-joining Class B.
McConnell said he will implement systems tailored to the team.
“It’s going to take a little time to get to know these kids,” he said. “Once I get a good read on them I will put schemes in that best suit their abilities. I’m not really a system guy.”
Nokomis this week participated in a seven-on-seven league in Hampden. The Warriors were scheduled to open the tournament with a game against John Bapst.
“It will be a little weird to coach against my brother,” O’Connell said. “Luckily we’re not playing for a state championship.”
Added Dan O’Connell: “We’ll lace it up and go at each other. My old man (Richard) said to me, ‘do I need to come over and supervise?’ I just laughed and told him that we’re all right.”