Cony and Messalonskee both have reached the semifinals of the Pine Tree Conference Class B playoffs in each of the last two seasons. While it’s just week two of the regular season, their game Friday night in Oakland could be a factor in playoff seeding at the end of the season.

Both teams have been among the league’s most consitent winners over the last two years, and their styles couldn’t be more different. Cony’s offense will run the spread, and will throw the ball on any down, at any time. Messalonskee, on the other hand, will wear opponents down with a powerful running game.

Here’s a look at the Cony-Messalonskee matchup.

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

Messalonskee players to watch: FB/FS Jack Bernatchez, G/DE Caleb Watkins, HB/CB Colby Dexter, HB/ILB Caleb Chevarie, G/OLB Chase Borssen.

Cony coach B.L. Lippert on Messalonskee: “Messalonskee had great team speed and are much more than just Bernatchez. Chevarie and Dexter can hurt you on the edge and Pelletier is a threat on the ground as well. Defensively they’re very aggressive and have athletes to match up on the outside.”

Messalonskee senior Colby Dexter on Cony: “I think they’ll be tough. We’ve heard a lot of things about their pass game. I think we’ve been working pretty hard this week about our pass coverage. It’s been hot. We’re still putting the work in.”

Three keys for Cony:

1. Pay attention to Bernatchez, but don’t lose track of the others.

Lippert is right. Messalonskee’s run game is not all Bernatchez. While the senior fullback ran for 262 yards last week at Gardiner, Dexter added 110 yards and two touchdowns, and Chevarie is a good ball-carrier, too.

2. Limit the big plays.

Twice last week, the Cony defense allowed a big play for either a score or led to a touchdown. Mt. Blue scored on a 61-yard pass and had a 53-yard run that set up a touchdown a few plays later.

3. Forget about injuries.

Lippert said senior running back/linebacker Reid Shostak is still fighting an elbow injury and is a longshot to play against Messalonskee. Shostak is undoubtedly a team leader, but the Rams have to foucs on who is on the field.

Three keys for Messalonskee:

1. Dictate the tempo.

Messalonskee’s offense is at its best when its putting together long drives primarily on the ground. An inexperienced offensive line looked good last week, and needs to continue its improvement.

“We lost a few big people, (Jake) Doyon and Bryce Garten,” Dexter said. “Matt Tremblay, Alden Balboni, they’ve been doing just just fine. They’re fast. I think we’ll do just fine with them.”

2. Respect the run, but don’t get beat by the pass.

Cony throws more than any team in the Pine Tree Conference Class B, and with Shostak out, the Rams could throw even more. Receivers like Brunelle are inviting targets for Heath.

3. Continue playing aggresively.

Messalonskee’s defense pestered and hurried Gardiner quarterback Eli Kropp throughout the game last week. The Eagles need to make that trend continue this week.

“Defensively they’re very aggressive and have that athletes to match-up on the outside. They run to the ball and tackle very well,” Lippert said. “It’s going to be a great challenge for us to go on the road and play a team of this caliber.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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