AUGUSTA — The Cony football team is piling up offensive statistics that fall somewhere between staggering and impressive.

The Rams (5-1) have won five straight and are averaging 42.3 points per game. They’ve scored at least 30 points in five games — all wins — and have offensive playmakers all over the field.

But there’s something else you should know about these Rams, who are enjoying their best season since 1992: Their defense is pretty good, too.

The Rams are quietly holding opponents to 16.3 points a game, good for third in the conference. It’s a dramatic turnaround from a year ago, when they allowed about 32 points a game.

“We’re playing with confidence,” Cony defensive coordinator Bruce Dostie said. “We’re playing as a unit. We have the personnel this year.”

Cony will need a strong defensive showing Friday night when it visits Keyes Field in Fairfield for a showdown with defending conference champion Lawrence (6-0).

“We all got better,” junior linebacker Nic Benner said. “It wasn’t much fun last year getting the ball jammed down our throats. It wasn’t fun at all.”

The Rams in recent years struggled mightily to stop the run. Cony head coach Robby Vachon and his staff changed schemes and personnel routinely in the last five years hoping to find a combination that could pass as a legitimate defense.

It finally happened this year.

The Rams switched to a 4-3 defensive front this fall. Interior linemen Josh Woodward and Erik Cook, both seniors, are first-year starters. Seniors Sam Hopkins and Keith Cloutier — a football newcomer and Erskine Academy transfer — start at the ends.

The front four have held up, enabling a steady linebacking core of Kyle Elvin, Reid Shostak and Benner to make plays.

Shostak, a freshman, and Elvin are among the conference leaders in tackles. Charlie Hallak, Chandler Shostak — who leads the PTC A with seven interceptions — and John Bennett lead the secondary.

“Reid has made a big difference,” Dostie said. “He’s a great young player. Usually, freshmen aren’t quite as skilled or as confident as he is.”

Added Vachon: “We just got tougher on defense. We have Charlie (Hallak) playing great at strong safety and then we added Reid at outside linebacker. He just likes to tackle people. He’s very physical. Our defensive linemen, they won’t cause havoc but they are getting through their blocks. They’re playing well.”

Cloutier, along with Reid Shostak, is one of the many pleasant surprises on the Cony defense this season. Cloutier, whose father Adam played for Cony in the 1970s, said he picked the game up quickly.

“I’ve watched a lot of football and been around it,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect when I got here, but everyone has supported me and I picked the game up quickly. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Added Vachon: “Keith can play anywhere. We knew in the preseason we had to find him a position somewhere. He would’ve played wide receiver for us, if we weren’t so deep there. He’s just a great athlete. The whole energy of our defense is different this year. Keith brings a different energy, too.”

Cony quarterback Ben Lucas, whose 22 touchdowns set a single season Cony record, says the defense makes the job of the offense easier.

“They got bigger and stronger,” Lucas said. “They’ve been good from Day 1 this year. It’s nice to see us stop people. It’s a real strength for us this year.”

Lawrence coach John Hersom agreed, saying the Rams he’s seen on film are vastly improved from a year ago.

“They seem to be playing with a heck of a lot more confidence,” he said. “They feed off each other. I noticed that quite a bit. I noticed on the film that they are more of a team defense in that they seem to all be committed to playing their style of play.

“I think the strength of their defense against the run is how their linebackers are pretty involved. They pursue the ball well and are pretty aggressive getting to the ball.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

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