WINTHROP —Every year, in its quest for success, the Winthrop football team builds its offense around two tailbacks, ideally with complementing styles.

In 2008, the last year they reached a state final, the Ramblers turned to Jake Steele and Riley Cobb — along with Joe Morey and Skylar Whaley.

The following year, Cory Harris and Ryan Conant split the carries. Conant and Derek Pamphrey formed what coach Joel Stoneton called “the two-headed monster” in 2010.

And then?

“We’ve had some injuries and struggled a little bit,” Stoneton said. “We’ve been trying to get the two-back system back.”

Thanks to the merger with Monmouth, the Ramblers did so this fall.

Winthrop senior Zach Glazier and Monmouth senior Jacob Weeks — two contrasting runners — teamed to form one of the most dynamic and dangerous one-two punches in Western D Campbell Conference this season.

The pair is a big reason why the Ramblers went 8-0, earned the top seed in the playoffs and are the heavy favorites to return to Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland to play for another state crown.

The Ramblers will host No. 8 Telstar (2-6) in a conference quarterfinal game Friday night at Maxwell Field.

“Awesome,” Weeks said. “I can’t even describe it. It’s been so intense. We didn’t have that opportunity at Monmouth; no playoffs or playing for state titles. This whole season and experience has been awesome.”

The Ramblers, with more than 60 players on their roster, entered the season with lofty expectations after going a combined 5-11 the last two seasons.

They knew they had talent spread out across the field, on both sides of the ball. What they didn’t know was how Glazier would bounce back from back surgery and whether Weeks could produce at the varsity level.

The answers came in time.

“We were worried about Zach’s back, but once he started playing the pain went away,” Stoneton said. “We didn’t know how it would respond.”

Glazier played in one game last season before a back injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.

“It was tough,” Glazier said. “I missed basically the whole season. It was interesting because we really didn’t know what we were going to have in the backfield this year. I didn’t know how I’d come back.”

Glazier has rushed for 710 yards and seven touchdowns on 83 carries in just six games. He’s averaging 9.5 yards a carry and 128 yards a game.

“He’s been phenomenal,” Stoneton said. “He’s exceeded our expectations.”

Weeks played on the Monmouth club team under coach Norm Thombs before the program merger. Stoneton said Thombs told him to keep an eye on Weeks when practices opened in August.

“Jake was a different story,” Stoneton said. “Norm told me to pay attention to Mr. Weeks. He told me Weeks had a knack for cutting and that he was a physical runner who wasn’t afraid to stick his nose up in there.

“When you are told that, you pay attention but you still had to see it. We saw it during the first exhibition game with Maranacook. It was very evident he was ready to play varsity football.”

While Glazier worked his way back from injury, Weeks suffered a setback in the early going when he injured an ankle.

Since his return, he’s added a physical element to the ground game. Weeks has rushed for 432 yards and five touchdowns on 36 carries in just five games. Weeks is averaging 120 yards a game.

“At the beginning of the season, I messed up my ankle,” Weeks said. “It really (stunk). I didn’t know if I’d be able to make an impact. It was so frustrating. I’m a physical, downhill running back. I love contact. To not be out there was extremely difficult.”

Added Glazier: “We had no idea what was going to happen. He was injured, I didn’t know what he had, and I didn’t know what I had. But it worked out.”

Did it ever.

Weeks and Glazier are healthy at the most opportune time, and Stoneton knows he’ll need them both for a deep run through October and into November.

“We haven’t had this one-two punch in one to two years,” he said. “When you look at Zach and Weeks, they run the same plays but run them differently. They come at you in a different way. You can try to strategize but they attack you differently.

“Both can cut against the grain on a toss. Jake can cut stop on a dime, while Zach can make you miss. Jake has a lot of similarities to Cobb; he’s a tuck-it-up-inside runner. Zach, he just make things happen. They’re dynamic, and we’re going to need them in the playoffs.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640[email protected]Twitter: @billstewartkj

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