The Cony football team is back in the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, but this time around expectations are higher.

Much higher.

No. 2 Cony (7-2) will host No. 3 Brunswick (7-2) in a Pine Tree Conference Class A semifinal game at 4 p.m. Saturday.

The Rams, who’ve won six of their last seven games, are enjoying their best season since 1992.

“There is a definite buzz with this team,” said junior quarterback Ben Lucas, who leads the PTC A with 30 touchdowns. “We can feel it.”

Elsewhere, No. 4 Gardiner (6-3) visits Kemp Field in Farmington tonight to play top-seeded Mt. Blue (9-0) in a PTC B semifinal game.

No. 2 Oak Hill (8-1) hosts No. 3 Dirigo (7-2) in a Campbell Conference Class C semifinal game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

Cony blasted Brunswick 34-7 in a regular-season meeting Sept. 28. The conditions weren’t ideal that night — it was raining most of the night — and Brunswick struggled in all three phases of the game.

The Dragons turned the ball over six times. They lost four of 11 fumbles.

“Offensively, we just had way too many turnovers,” Brunswick coach Dan Cooper said. “You won’t win any football games turning it over that many times. We’ll need to be better.”

Added Cony coach Robby Vachon: “Brunswick is tough. I think the weather and the fumbles hurt them last time. The game will come down to turnovers and field position.”

Brunswick’s offense is led by Jared Jensen, who has rushed for a conference-high 1,8874 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. The senior rushed for 176 yards on 24 carries against Cony, but it came at a price. Jensen was knocked out of the game late in the second half by a hard-hitting Cony defense.

“Cony hit us as hard as anybody has,” Cooper said. “They gang-tackled him pretty tough. They are the only team to knock him out of a game.”

The Rams come in with a dynamic passing attack, led by Lucas, who has thrown for 2,332 yards, which leads the PTC A. Receivers Chandler Shostak and Tayler Carrier, meanwhile, are two of the top receivers in the conference. Shostak has caught 44 passes for 674 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“It’s going to be a battle,” Lucas said. “Hosting a playoff game, it feels pretty awesome.”

Mt. Blue edged Gardiner 21-16 in a Sept. 21 regular-season game at Hoch Field.

The Cougars are led by quarterback Jordan Whitney. However, Mt. Blue will play without junior wide receiver Cam Abbott, who is out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

“He’s out for the season,” Parlin said.

Senior wide receiver Nick Hyde (ankle sprain) will play tonight, Parlin added.

“We kind of expected this matchup when the playoffs started,” Parlin said. “I really think it’s a good matchup for both of us. We do a lot of the same type of things. It should be a great game.”

The Tigers will lean on senior quarterback Dennis Meehan, who’s a threat to run and throw. Steve Sirois has rushed for about 800 yards, and coach Matt Burgess said it will be pivotal for Gardiner to run the football.

“We need to be able to run the ball against these guys before we can get it to the perimeter,” he said. “Defensively, we’ll have to find a way to shut down that offense.”

And that means, Burgess added, pressuring Whitney.

“They have plenty of offense we have to take care,” he said. “Whitney throws with some real good accuracy. His offensive line gives him good time to throw. We’ll need to disrupt that because good protection makes quarterbacks a whole lot better when they can look at some things.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

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