AUGUSTA — When Cony High School head football coach B.L. Lippert spoke with the school’s trainer last Tuesday, he was told there would be about a 30 percent chance that injured linebacker/running back Reid Shostak could play in Friday night’s game against Messalonskee. Initially projected to be out three to six weeks after dislocating his left elbow in a practice on Aug. 21, Shostak made his return against the Eagles in fine fashion. The senior captain intercepted a pass late in the fourth quarter to help seal the 33-27 win for the Rams and also accumulated 59 total yards while only playing one half of offense.

“He’s an outstanding player first and foremost, but he brings an energy and a physicality to our team,” Lippert said. “Teams are aware of where he is on the field and ball carriers are aware too.”

Shostak’s toughness was a big reason why he played Friday night but he also had some help in the equipment department as well, wearing a brace similar to the one Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt wears.

“He’s got the J.J. Watt one covered up by a soft one and wrapped with foam and tape,” Lippert said. “It takes about a half hour to put on. It seems like it would be pretty heavy.”

Initially Lippert had only planned on using Shostak on defense, but he ultimately put him in on offense after urging from the latter only after Shostak proved he could handle it during halftime.

“We were down off the field, kind of by the scoreboard. We saw him catch a few balls and take some handoffs,” Lippert said. “I was amazed at the mobility he had too given how cumbersome it was.”

That was certainly a good sign for the Rams, as Lippert noted Shostak will likely have to wear the same brace for the entirety of the season.

• • •

Through an 0-2 start, first-year Gardiner coach Joe White is still looking at the big picture.

“The emphasis is still on teaching these guys on how to play and continuing to come back and scrap — regardless of the score, stay positive,” White said. “As they’re told repeatedly, there are multiple life lessons to be learned from the game of football.”

A strain of the flu slowed the Tigers’ football learning-curve last week, passing through the locker room and forcing them to practice with about half of their starters over the course of the week, White said.

The illness forced senior captain Nate Thibeau to sit out Friday night’s 47-6 loss to Skowhegan. In his place, junior John Stinson made his first varsity start at right guard and juniors Mike McArthur and Kaleb Caron saw their roles altered due to the havoc the virus caused.

Perhaps the most frustrating side effect for White is that a big emphasis since preseason has been on improving the tempo and efficiency with which the Tigers play.

“There were a couple of times when our personnel was skewed, only because throughout the week of practice we never knew who was going to show up or go home sick, so we had guys repping two or three different positions,” White said.

White saw some promising signs in the early stages of Friday’s game, particularly his offense keeping the chains moving on a couple of fourth downs. He hopes the Tigers can do a better job of maintaining their momentum.

“We don’t quite have the snap that I was talking about on either side of the ball to finish that,” White said. “To finish that off is going to be huge for these guys.”

White was also pleased with the advances shown by his run defense after Messalonskee piled up 422 yards on the ground in the opener.

“I thought our defensive line played better,” he said. “(Senior defensive tackle) Alex Thang stepped up a little bit and started to smack a little more. We weren’t catching people like we were against Messalonskee.”

• • •

After struggling to get on track offensively in its season opener, Winthrop/Monmouth found a winning formula Friday night with a 45-14 drubbing of Traip.

“We executed much better (Friday). We didn’t miss many assignments offensively, blocking. Our blocking on the edges was much better,” Ramblers coach Dave St. Hilaire said. “We’ve been working with our split ends, tight ends and wing ends on maintaining their blocks longer and that was just much better from the first week.”

The Ramblers ran the ball 50 times for 320 yards against the Rangers but what was more impressive was the balance with which they did so. Alec Brown was the leading rusher with 14 carries for 92 yards and a score, Nate Scott had nine rushes for 69 yards and two touchdowns and Dustin Tripp carried it 12 times for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Winthrop/Monmouth ultimately had seven players with runs of 10 yards or more. The Ramblers also had some success through the air as well, as quarterback Matt Ingram was 5-of-8 for 75 yards and a touchdown. Bennett Brooks was his primary target, finishing with four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.

“Basically we get them touches early but then the other thing is we want to attack different parts of the field,” St. Hilaire said. “On the back of my play sheet I’ve got touches for each kid so it’s ‘does this kid need a touch’ or ‘hey, we want to attack this area, there’s a weakness there that they’re giving us. There’s a mismatch there, how can we exploit it?'”

• • •

Maranacook opened its season on a strong note with a convincing win over Boothbay at Ricky Gibson Field of Dreams, but now the Black Bears will have to take to the road for their longest bus trip of the season.

Maranacook will make the two-hour trek to Traip for a Saturday afternoon contest against the Rangers, just the second time the Black Bears have traveled to Kittery in the past five seasons.

“They’ll be alright. This group of kids like long bus rides,” Maranacook coach Joe Emery said. “This group of seniors is really having a lot of fun. (They) are really a tightknit group and they really enjoy riding together.”

Emery said there is still always some concern about how a team will start after a long trip, so they will try to get there a little early in an effort to mitigate those effects.

• • •

Oak Hill held its annual military appreciation day for Saturday’s game against Dirigo, once again donning special camouflage jerseys and honoring past and present military service members before and after the game.

“A lot of work but it was mainly talking to the kids and making a recognition towards the military, current and retired,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said. “We try to make it a special day and we do.”

The event also helped raise funds for the Togus Veteran Affairs Medical Center.

Staff writer Randy Whitehouse contributed to this report.

 

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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