The Cony football team has one of the most potent passing attacks in the state, led by senior quarterback Ben Lucas, who has thrown for 33 touchdowns this season.
So it came as a mild surprise when No. 2 Cony debuted a few wrinkles to its ground game in a 41-15 victory over No. 3 Messalonskee in a Pine Tree Conference Class B semifinal game Friday night.
Cony will play at No. 1 Brunswick (7-2) in the PTC B final Friday night.
“We added a few things, yeah,” Cony coach Robby Vachon said. “We saw some things on film that we could maybe run against Messalonskee.”
One of them was the option, something Cony doesn’t run but installed during the week leading up to the game.
“It’s not an easy thing to do but the kids picked it up,” Vachon said. “I don’t think our running game gets enough credit.”
The Rams ran four option plays and all of them went for positive yards, including an 8-yard touchdown tuck-and- run by Lucas.
“It’s a new thing,” Lucas said. “It seemed to work.”
The Rams debuted the play late in the first quarter from their own 11-yard line. Lucas bolted toward the edge then pitched the ball to Reid Shostak, who ran for 24 yards and a first down. Shostak had runs of 7 and 13 yards on the option later in the game.
Cony also put shifty wide receiver Tayler Carrier in the backfield for the first time this season. He rushed for 46 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
“We put in that package during the week,” he said. “They decided to run me out of the backfield and see how it worked. It’s a new thing.”
Brunswick coach Dan Cooper said he wasn’t surprised to see Carrier get some touches out of the backfield.
“Not at all,” he said. “They did the same thing with (Chandler) Shostak last year. We expect to see some of that Friday night.”
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Oak Hill reached the Western D Campbell Conference championship game with a hard-fought 21-20 victory over Lisbon in a wild semifinal game last Saturday.
Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette also improved to 4-0 against former mentor Dick Mynahan. Doucette coached under Mynahan at Lisbon before he took the Oak Hill job two years ago.
“Honestly, we’re trying to win football games,” Doucette said. “Coach Mynahan is one of the best coaches in Maine. He does a tremendous job with his team. He’s a great mentor and a great person.”
The No. 2 Raiders (8-2) will host No. 4 Dirigo (7-3) in the conference championship game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
The victory over Lisbon was the fourth game Oak Hill this season that was decided in the final minute. Oak Hill beat Dirigo 8-6 on Sept. 13.
“Our philosophy this year is to find a way,” Doucette said. If we can stay in the game, we can find a way. We talk about that with the team and it’s caught on like wildfire. We work hard in practice putting pressure on kids so that they are comfortable in games.”
The Raiders also dropped tight decisions to Winthrop/Monmouth (18-13) and Old Orchard Beach (21-20) in games decided late as well.
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Winthrop/Monmouth won the Western D Campbell Conference after it breezed through an unblemished regular season.
However, the Ramblers (9-1) fell short of their goals in the playoffs, losing a tough 22-20 decision to Dirigo in the semifinals last Friday.
“We’re very disappointed,” Winthrop/Monmouth coach Joel Stoneton said. “But when we look at it, we realized a ton of good came out of this season. We were able to mesh two communities and we still won the Campbell Conference.
“But what can you do? Dirigo was really, really good. They ran right at us. They played some power football.”
The team will return several key players, including wide receivers Dakota Carter and Mario Meucci. However, the team will need to find a replacement for senior quarterback Jared Hanson.
“We have some guys who can do it,” Stoneton said. “We’ll see what happens.”
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Brunswick defeated Cony 54-38 on Sept. 20 in a wild affair that featured plenty of offense. Cooper said he expects more of the same Friday night.
“We expect a real shootout,” he said. “I figured back then that we’d see them again. It was pretty evident then that we were the two best teams. That game was just for home-field advantage.”
The Dragons struggled with injuries this season, with Lucas McCue and bruising fullback Alex Bandouveres each missing significant time with a variety of injuries.
Both are healthy again and played big roles in a 42-28 win over Skowhegan last Friday.
“I think we’ve come out of the woods,” Cooper said. “We’ve been trying to get there for awhile. McCue was hurt for about a month and Alex was banged up. But I think we are finally healthy now.”