The Winthrop/Monmouth football team entered this season with plenty of questions. A return to a competitive setting provided some answers.

The Ramblers had their first trial run Saturday with a scrimmage against York, and coach Dave St. Hilaire said it was an ideal run-through for a team that lost loads of firepower from one of Class D’s most proficient offenses.

“It went pretty well,” St. Hilaire said. “We went in not knowing what we were going to look like, losing nine starters off offense and only one’s in his position he was in last year on offense. We actually executed pretty well offensively.”

The offense helped lead the Ramblers to an undefeated regular season and the brink of a D South title, but Winthrop/Monmouth had to deal with a long list of graduations at key places this offseason. Gone are running backs Nate Scott and Alec Brown, the Ramblers’ powerful 1-2 punch, deep threat Bennett Brooks and quarterback Matt Ingram.

So St. Hilaire had some trepidation about how the new cast would perform. On Saturday, many of those concerns were alleviated.

“The big concern was going to be our offensive line and our quarterback position,” he said. “We’re still moving some guys around, but we feel comfortable where we’re at right now. We’re ahead of where we thought we’d be.”

A big reason for that has come at quarterback. Sophomore Keegan Choate, who started on JV as a freshman last year, fought hard for the job and was named the starter Monday afternoon.

“He’s been amazing,” St. Hilaire said. “His work ethic, three times after double sessions he’s gone to the gym. You know, first week of double sessions, most guys are toast.”

St. Hilaire praised the sophomore’s intelligence and ability to conduct the offense, one that last year leaned on the run game but wasn’t afraid to take to the air. So far, Choate has proven him right. He went 16-for-20 passing in a full-pads 7-on-7 session against York prior to the scrimmage, all while demonstrating what St. Hilaire called sound, repeatable mechanics.

“Anything we’ve given him to work on, he’s gone and corrected,” he said. “He throws the ball very well, he’s also a good runner. … We trust Keegan with any throw. Any throw. Whether it’s a throw in the flat, a slant, a long ball, he can make all those throws.”

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At Gardiner, the search has been on for a quarterback all August. And coach Joe White didn’t want any of his players to take themselves out of the running.

“It’s going to be interesting,” White responded when asked about the position. “The other coaches and I had talked about open tryouts, for everything. Starting Day 1. If you think you can play quarterback and help this team, then go over with the quarterbacks. If you think you’re a linebacker that can help this team, go drill with the linebackers.

“We don’t necessarily have positions set in stone. We just know we have athletes that we need to find places for.”

White and his team are no strangers to the “see what works” approach at quarterback. Last year, one injury after another forced the Tigers to try a new player in the pocket seemingly weekly, from Cole Heaberlin to Tanner Hebert to Eli Kropp to Collin Foye. This fall, Heaberlin is one of the favorites for the job, having shown promise with a preseason victory over Spruce Mountain last year before breaking his ankle, but he said he’s not sure just how many snaps he’ll get under center.

“I have no idea, to be honest,” he said. “I’m just doing whatever helps the team right now, whether it’s lineman, tight end, quarterback, whatever. Defense. It’s fair game right now, whoever wants it.”

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Here are a few of the interesting exhibition game matchups set for central Maine teams this weekend:

• Lawrence at Cony will be a rematch of one of the best playoff games of last season. In the Pine Tree Conference Class B quarterfinals, Cony trimmed the lead to 27-26, when Jordan Roddy caught a Taylor Heath touchdown pass on the final play of the fourth quarter, then converted the 2-point conversion for the win.

• Messalonskee at Winslow is a matchup of former Class B rivals. They will play at Winslow’s Poulin Field Saturday afternoon.

• Nokomis plays at Mt. Blue. Each team has a new head coach, Jake Rogers at Nokomis and Nate Quirion at Mt. Blue. Rogers and Quirion previously coached together on the staff at Lawrence.

Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this report.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]ntralmaine.com

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM