Cony and Gardiner squared off Friday night to continue one of the longest-running series in high school football.

The showdown, which Cony won, attracted about 3,500 spectators and plenty of buzz, but it wasn’t the only rivalry game played that night.

Winthrop and Maranacook, rivals in the Western C Campbell Conference, met in an exhibition game Friday night at Maxwell Field. The teams don’t play each other in the regular season.

“We wanted to come out strong and play aggressive,” Maranacook coach Joe Emery said. “We wanted to play a great game, execute our plays and get nobody hurt.”

The Black Bears did all that in a 28-6 victory.

The starting units for both teams played a little more than a half.

Maranacook, which hosts Old Orchard Beach in the regular season opener Friday night, features a retooled offense this year after conference player of the year Luke Emery graduated. Tailbacks Jesse Evans and AJ Stevens more than just filled in.

“Stevens rushed for 100 yards and Evans had most of the carries and got his yards, too,” Emery said. “We ran the ball really, really well. We established a ground game. I think we surprised some people.”

Added Winthrop coach Joel Stoneton, whose team opens the season Friday at Sacopee Valley: “We have a lot of work to do. We have to figure some things out. We just didn’t do a lot of the little things, like engage in blocks and proper techniques.”

Winthrop quarterback Jared Hanson did complete 12 of his 15 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown.

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Gardiner coach Matt Burgess said his team “wasn’t ready to play” Friday night against Cony. He also said the Rams, who won the annual rivalry game 26-15, were vastly improved from a year ago.

“Much different team,” he said. “Cony is good. That junior class they have is really good. We learned a lot that night. We learned that Cony is much-improved. We have work to do on the defensive line and the offensive line.”

Indeed, the Tigers — who play at Belfast on Friday night — struggled to penetrate Cony’s offensive line. They sacked Cony quarterback Ben Lucas just once.

Offensively, Gardiner senior quarterback Dennis Meehan was flushed out of the pocket often.

“We have a lot of young guys on the line,” Burgess said. “We have to be patient with them. We also have to have our seniors execute. We expect more out of them. We were in position to make plays. Sometimes we made them and sometimes we didn’t.”

• • •

Cony coach Robby Vachon said his team moved on quickly after its win over Gardiner. The Rams are focused on Messalonskee, whom they play Friday night in Oakland.

Vachon and staff spent time the last few days watching film of the Eagles.

“We could’ve played better against Gardiner,” Vachon said. “We dropped some balls and really just could’ve done a better job at what the defense gives us. The big thing is that we came out healthy.”

Messalonskee beat Cony 46-0 last season.

“They beat us up physically,” Vachon said. “It will be good to see how we match up.”

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Oak Hill had competition at several key positions this preseason, first-year coach Stacen Doucette said Monday.

“We made great strides,” Doucette said. “All the training is done, all the preparation is done. Now, it’s time to play football.”

The Raiders will start Aaron Clark at fullback while two sophomores — Alex Mace and Kyle Flaherty — will start as wingbacks.

Seniors Joel Wells and Brandon Potvin will see carries as well.

“Everybody has a role to play,” Doucette said. “Because of the depth and competition, we’ll even have some one-way starters. We’ll go 19 deep on varsity.”

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There are a few big games on tap across the state this weekend that could have playoff implications down the line.

Defending Class B state champ Wells opens Friday night against perennial Western B playoff contender Cape Elizabeth. In Southern Maine Activities Association action, Thornton Academy will host Deering at 1 p.m. Saturday at 1 p.m. The Trojans and Rams are two of the top teams in the state.

Bangor will play at Brunswick on Friday night in a rematch of a Pine Tree Conference Class A semifinal game.

Bill Stewart — 621-5640
[email protected]

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