Staff Writer

Robby Vachon has made several changes in his six seasons as Cony football coach.

Some were subtle, others not so much.

“For me, when I first took this job, it was just about competing,” he said. “I wanted to change that. We wanted to change the culture. We wanted to make sure that this is a year-round commitment. The hardest part was getting the kids to buy into it, as a group. When we came in, we were just about competing. It’s no longer about that now.”

Vachon and his staff guided the Rams to their best season in 20 years, finishing second in Pine Tree Conference Class A.

Cony won a PTC A semifinal game — its first home playoff victory in 20 years — and advanced to the conference championship game, where it lost to Lawrence 20-10.

For leading the Rams to an 8-3 season, Vachon is the Kennebec Journal Football Coach of the Year.

“We’ve got better as a staff each year,” Vachon said. “It takes a lot of work.”

Added Cony senior captain Chandler Shostak: “The coaches are pretty demanding, but if you can put up with it, you learn to love them. I absolutely loved playing for Vachon. There was never a dull moment.”

The Rams opened the season with high expectations. With its dynamic spread offense and a much-improved defense, Cony used a five-game winning streak to jump into the title hunt.

Cony then gave Lawrence (10-1) all it could handle in the PTC A title game.

Vachon said the successful season came as a result of a few subtle changes made well before the season opened.

“You can’t just waltz in and expect to compete,” he said. “We had to get serious in the offseason. We realized how important it is. It came to a point where we had to do that or we just wouldn’t be successful.

“The other big thing is that you have to rely on your staff. You have to give them responsibility — not just in practices but in games. They have to have ownership. We’re very lucky to have them.”

B.L. Lippert is the offensive coordinator and was given free reign over the offense, which averaged about 35 points a game. Bruce Dostie is the defensive coordinator.

Both assistants have the freedom to call plays.

“I’ve given B.L. the keys to the offense,” Vachon said. “It was natural for Bruce to run the defense. I have to let them do their things. They are very good at it.”

Vachon added the players bought into an offseason conditioning/weight lifting program.

“But you also have to have the talent,” he said, “and we do. The effort they gave, the commitment they showed, it’s a formula we plan to stick with.”

Shostak credited the offseason workout program as one of Vachon’s major accomplishments.

“That was the biggest change in the program,” he said. “It made the biggest difference.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

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