It’s a rematch, but the Campbell Conference D South football championship game has a first-time feel to it.

It’s been over two months since Winthrop/Monmouth and Lisbon — two teams vying for a spot in the state championship game — last squared off in the season opener, and plenty has changed since then. After playing in the heat of late summer, they’ll go again in the cold of mid-autumn. The fans who watched the game in shirts and shorts will be bundled up in jackets, hats and gloves.

Perhaps the most drastic change has occurred on the field. Winthrop/Monmouth won the first game, 31-12. But with a full season of play transpiring since then, Ramblers coach Dave St. Hilaire doesn’t expect the story to be the same.

“It’s totally different, and it does feel like a long time ago,” he said. “We know a Week 1 team is far different than the Week 11 (team). They have really come on, we knew they would.”

Lisbon (7-1) coach Dick Mynahan agrees. His Greyhounds have improved, especially considering they haven’t lost since that first matchup. He just hopes they’ve improved enough.

“After the first game, we’ve been looking forward to maybe having another game with them,” he said. “We know they’ve improved and we think we’ve improved. We’ll see if we’ve improved enough to compensate for it.”

Saturday’s matchup will be a clash between two teams that have dominated Class D South on both sides of the ball. Lisbon and Winthrop/Monmouth (8-0) have the top two defenses in terms of points allowed per game in the entire class (8.25 and 9 points, respectively), and both teams have pummeled opposing fronts with a stout running game while also utilizing a passing game that hits over-committing defenses for big plays.

From there, the teams differ. Lisbon is the conventional power team, using its superior size to win in the trenches and churn out yards. Noah Francis, one of the game’s biggest running backs at 280 pounds, leads the way, while Jared Glover and Lucas Francis are also dangerous assets in the attack. Quarterback Tyler Halls is an elite athlete and a threat to run or throw.

Lisbon got creative in its 41-9 semifinal win over Oak Hill, switching Halls’s and Lucas Francis’s positions, but Mynahan said the Greyhounds will go back to basics Saturday.

“Right now, it seems to be working fairly well,” he said. “I think there’s no question we’re more of a power team than anything else. This week, we’ve tried different things and gone back to power. We’re not going to venture too far from what we think we’ve done well at.”

That’s the Lisbon team the Ramblers saw, and it’s the one St. Hilaire figures he’ll need an answer for again.

“We’ve got to contain Tyler Halls and we have to stop power football,” St. Hilaire said. “They’ve got guys that are playmakers for them. We can’t play on a short field, we can’t give them short drives. We’ve got to make them go a long ways, and minimize any big plays. If we do that, we’ll be fine.

“We’ve got guys that are good tacklers. We’ve got some beef that can match them, but we’re going to rely on our speed and make sure we’re tackling.”

And there lies the Ramblers’ advantage. One of the faster teams in Class D, Winthrop/Monmouth can defend the pass and the run by beating blockers to the edge and cutting down big plays before they develop. And on offense, a running back combo of Alec Brown and Nate Scott is one of the class’s best mixes of strength and speed, respectively, while quarterback Matt Ingram operates a big-play passing game with downfield threats Andrew Pazdziorko and Bennett Brooks.

“They’ve got a couple of running backs that are both excellent, receivers that are really fast,” Mynahan said. “They offer a challenge across the board and you’ve got to cover the entire field against them on every play. They strike fast. They’re good.”

Mynahan made sure to point out Ingram, and for good reason. The quarterback burned the Greyhounds for 178 yards through the air and two touchdowns in September, as well as another score on a 38-yard run.

“(Ingram) had an outstanding game,” he said. “I think he might have contributed probably close to 300 yards of offense for their team. He scrambled when he needed to, he passed when he needed to. He handled our defense pretty well.”

St. Hilaire said the Ramblers had another element working in their advantage in the first game. The sun was out and the temperature was high, and the larger numbers on the Winthrop/Monmouth sideline paid dividends in the second half.

“Getting them on a hot day Week 1 was ideal for us,” he said. “We go a little deeper than they do, and the heat can affect that early in the season. We knew we had them at the right time, but they are a different team now than when we played them Week 1.”

Considerably so. Not that he isn’t confident the result can be the same.

“Our guys are ready,” he said. “Last week (a 38-8 win over Dirigo), we didn’t have anyone that played a great game, but they all did their jobs and we had a great outcome. And that’s what we’re about.

“Everyone did their jobs, we were on the same page. We’re ready to go.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

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Twitter: @dbonifantMTM