FARMINGTON — The Cony and Mt. Blue High School football teams are each coming off seasons in which they qualified for the Pine Tree Conference Class B playoffs, although neither team had to play each other to get there.

At 6-2, the Rams narrowly earned the No. 2 seed over third-seeded Lawrence, which was also 6-2, in the Crabtree standings a season ago, but the Bulldogs won when it mattered most with a 28-27 victory in the PTC B semifinals. Lawrence marched down the field 84 yards for a touchdown with 1 minute, 8 seconds remaining to draw within one, then made the two-point conversion when running back Cole Robinson took a direct snap and completed a pass to tight end Seth Powers in the end zone.

Mt. Blue’s season, meanwhile, ended in the quarterfinals when Messalonskee chewed up 516 yards on the ground — including 296 yards and five touchdowns from Jack Bernatchez — en route to a 48-28 win in Oakland.

Heading into Friday’s contest, both the Rams and Cougars figured to be on similar paths, as each team lost some key players to graduation but also brought back a number of strong returners. Cony was dealt a tough blow this preseason, though, when starting running back/linebacker Reid Shostak went down with a dislocated elbow.

Shostak is expected to be back this season for the Rams, just not Friday night. Even still, Cony should have enough returning to make the game against Mt. Blue a competitive one.

Here’s a look at the Cony-Mt. Blue matchup:

Cony players to watch: WR/CB Anthony Brunelle, RB/OLB Joel Bennett, QB/WR Taylor Heath, DE Dylan Tudeen, DE Benaiah Willhoite, ILB Max Storey.

Mt. Blue players to watch: QB Ryan Pratt, WR/DB Nate Pratt-Holt, RB/DB Alex Gilbert, G/DT Brandon Durrell, G/DT Will Gunter, TE/DE Isaac Collins.

Cony coach B.L. Lippert on Mt. Blue: “They’re actually quite a bit like us. They’re a senior-laden team, they have some good athletes on the outside, a couple of good running backs, some physicality on the offensive and defensive line.”

Three keys for Cony:

1. Stop Pratt-Holt: There are not many receivers better in PTC B than Pratt-Holt, who is also a state champion triple jumper. The Cougars’ senior is a serious deep threat and the Rams will have to prevent the speedy wideout from making any big plays.

2. Hold the line: With Shostak out and a first-year quarterback in Heath, the Rams will need to have strong play from its offensive line. Seniors Devon O’Connor at center and Nic Caron at guard bring stability and experience to the line, while junior tackle Matt Moore should help out as well.

3. End Game: Defense might be the Rams’ greatest strength this season, and Tudeen and Willhoite could be a big part of that. Pratt is a quarterback capable of beating teams both through the air and on the ground, but strong play off the edges could help neutralize his effectiveness.

Three keys for Mt. Blue:

1. Pressure, pressure, pressure: Heath is fairly untested in the Rams’ spread offense and the Cougars would be wise to test him early. The more time he has in the pocket in the game’s first few possessions, the more likely he is to get comfortable running the team’s offense.

2. Don’t overlook Bennett: Shostak may not be available for the Rams, but his “replacement,” Bennett, is not exactly a slouch. The senior was expected to get some touches in the backfield this season even with Shostak healthy, as he possesses good speed and the ability to make plays in space.

3. Be creative: The Rams are well aware of Pratt-Holt’s ability to change a game in an instant. Mt. Blue will need to find different ways of getting arguably their best offensive playmaker the ball.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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