AUGUSTA — Anyone who thought Cony was not going to miss Tayler Carrier on Friday night was clearly mistaken.

Offensively the Rams still had plenty of pop — putting up more than 500 yards of offense — but defensively they could have certainly used their senior captain in Cony’s 46-40 overtime loss at Brewer.

“He’s one of our best defensive players and we missed him in the return game as well,” Cony coach Robby Vachon said. “…The loss of (No.) 25 was definitely felt.”

Carrier was serving a one-game suspension after being ejected from the previous game against Messalonskee, and sophomore Chad Bickford got the start in his place against the Witches. Vachon said they liked a lot of what they saw of the young linebacker, albeit thrust into action against a strong offense.

“He did a nice job,” Vachon said. “He’s a really good, young player for us. We like him a lot, but he was thrown into a tough situation.”

• • •

The Rams were not the only team dealing with the loss of one of their top skill players this weekend.

Senior Kyle Flaherty — a key running back and linebacker for defending Class D champ Oak Hill — left with a leg injury at the end of the first quarter of Saturday’s 14-6 loss to Dirigo and did not return.

Flaherty’s loss was particularly felt at the offensive end for the Raiders. One of the things that has made Oak Hill particularly dangerous over the past two seasons has been its ability to feature both Flaherty and classmate Alex Mace in the offense, as their skill sets make them one of the most dangerous duos in Class D.

The absence of Flaherty allowed the Cougars to key in on Mace, particularly in the fourth quarter with Dirigo’s Kaine Hutchins shadowing the running back/wide receiver all over the field when the Raiders brought him in motion.

“He was on me most of the game. He did a great job,” Mace said. “I couldn’t really make that many plays.”

The defense proved to be effective, as Mace had just one touch in the final quarter — a 38-yard run on a sweep to the left side early in the fourth.

“He’s a great player,” Dirigo senior Tyler Frost said, “but we were able to limit him a little bit today.”

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The injury bug has also worked its way to Maxwell Field, and unfortunately it’s bitten most of Winthrop/Monmouth’s senior captains.

Lineman Jeremy Mihalakis did not play in Friday’s 27-8 loss to Old Orchard Beach, while defensive end Mitch DeBlois and running back/safety Zack Phinney both left with injuries. Tight end/linebacker Mario Meucci has also been limited the past few weeks.

Ramblers coach Dave St. Hilaire is still waiting to see how they progress throughout the week to make a call on whether or not they will be available for Friday, but fortunately one of his senior captains, Dakota Carter, has remained healthy.

Carter was a bright spot in the loss to the Seagulls, as he finished with seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.

“He’s a player,” St. Hilaire said. “One of the things we’ve wanted to do is get him touches in the offense.

“…He’s done a super job for us so far.”

The injuries have forced a number of sophomores like Andrew Pazdziorko, Jack Ferguson and Alec Brown into the lineup, while sophomore Matt Ingram has been solid at quarterback.

“They’re holding their own,” St. Hilaire said. “The biggest things for us is some missed assignments and trying to slow things down. It’s a new offense. We’ve got to make sure we set them up for success.”

• • •

Gardiner is also turning to a sophomore a quarterback this season in Eli Kropp, and it’s looking like the young Tiger has had to earn his stripes against potentially the two best teams in Pine Tree Conference B.

Friday night the Tigers dropped a 41-6 decision at 2-0 Brunswick, which came on the heels of falling to 2-0 Lawrence 46-18 the week prior. Despite the two lopsided losses, Gardiner coach Matt Burgess’ confidence in his young signal caller is not wavering.

“He’s OK. He’s got a nice, calm demeanor. He spent last year on the sideline in my hip pocket so we communicate pretty well,” Burgess said. “He’s getting to the point where he’s starting to read defenses better.

“…He’s a very good, young quarterback.”

This weekend Kropp and the Tigers should have a better shot at getting their first win of the season as they host Morse (1-1).

“If we play solid defense and don’t turn the ball over on offense, hopefully we can come out of there with a win,” Burgess said.

• • •

As Kropp, Ingram and a number of quarterbacks have found out, building a successful passing game requires everyone to be on the same page.

The line for Maranacook junior Kyle Morand was not a pretty one — 4-of-15 for 43 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions — in the Black Bears 19-7 loss to Traip, but it was also better than it looked.

On four of Morand’s 11 incomplete passes, his intended targets got at least a hand on the ball but could not haul in the pass. Morand is not putting those missed opportunities all on his receivers though.

“I could have thrown a lot of them better too,” Morand said. “There were a couple drops but most of them were passes that could have been thrown better.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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