Two years ago, the Messalonskee football team rolled into Alumni Field in Augusta and beat Cony 46-0 on opening night. Last year, the Eagles eked out a 21-19 victory against those Rams, again on opening night.

Both results still resonate with Cony, who opens the season at 7 p.m. Friday against the Eagles in a Pine Tree Conference Class B game at Veterans Field in Oakland.

“When they beat us (46-0), that’s what really turned the program around,” Cony senior quarterback Ben Lucas said. “That’s when we got into the weight room. And last year, with all the success we had, we didn’t beat them. We’re pretty hungry.”

The Rams are coming off their finest season in 20 years. They reached the PTC A championship game, losing to Lawrence, and finished 8-3.

Lucas, one of the top quarterbacks in the state, threw for 2,736 yards and 32 touchdowns — both single-season Cony records.

He has a deep pool of receivers to throw to this year, including Jonathan Saban, Tayler Carrier, John Bennett, Anthony Brunelle, Kevin Kingsbury and Reid Shostak.

First-year Messalonskee coach Brad Bishop knows his athletic defense will be tested.

“It’s tough to simulate what Cony can do,” he said. “And what they do, they do pretty well. They have a bunch of kids who can execute. We’re going to have our hands full.”

Added Messalonskee senior quarterback/defensive back Jake Dexter: “They have an explosive offense. (Lucas) is one of the best quarterbacks in the state. We’re all excited about the challenge. We know Cony will be one of best teams in the league. We’ll have to step it up.”

The Eagles will look for big games from fellow defensive back Devin Warren to disrupt the dangerous Cony passing attack.

“We have to make sure every zone is covered,” Bishop said. “Devin and Jake, they see the field very well. We have a lot of good kids back there.”

Cony coach Robby Vachon said it’s no secret that the Rams will look to air it out against the Eagles tonight, but he’d like to establish a ground game as well. Charlie Hallak and Shostak will handle the ball out of the backfield.

“We have to be sound in what we do,” Vachon said. “We can’t get caught up in not having beaten them in awhile. Obviously, we’re going to throw the ball but we need to establish the run, too. We have to stay out of third and long. Messalonskee is a tough team. They’ve had our number the past few seasons and it’s going to take a great effort from our kids. On the flip side, it’s going to take a great effort out of their kids, as well.”

Bishop re-worked Messalonskee’s offense, ditching the double-wing offense. Corey McKenzie, who rushed for 1,249 yards as one of the top running backs in what was the PTC A last season, leads the Eagles. Dexter is also a threat to run and throw.

“We’re a little different,” Bishop said. “We’re running a lot more formations. Corey is our featured back but he’s not getting every carry. We’re going to try and spread the ball around.”

Added Vachon: “Dexter is an outstanding football player. He’s a playmaker and comes from a football family. He gives them that added dimension. We expect a good game (tonight).”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

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