The past two games for the Dirigo High School football team are prime examples of just how tight the race for the Campbell Conference Class D title is this season.

In a 20-14 loss to two-time defending champ Oak Hill (3-0) two weeks ago, the Cougars (1-2) fumbled inside the 15-yard line with less than three minutes remaining on a potential game-winning drive. This past Friday at Harlow Park, Winthrop/Monmouth quarterback Matt Ingram scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard rush with 6.9 seconds remaining in a 12-7 win for the Ramblers (2-1).

“You’re going to see four or five teams that are battling right to the end,” Dirigo coach Jim Hersom said after the loss to Winthrop/Monmouth. “We’re right in there with them but these are all good, well-coached football teams and they’ve got a lot of good players.”

Even at 1-2 the Cougars — who travel to take on fellow frontrunner Lisbon (2-0) on Saturday — still figure to be a threat to win the conference. The Ramblers added their names to the mix with their win last Friday and Maranacook (2-0) looks to be every bit as dangerous with its bruising style of football.

Until someone takes Oak Hill’s crown it will remain the team to beat, but the road to the Gold Ball looks like it will be even more difficult given the crop of competitors looking to knock off the Raiders.

“I think any team could win,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said, “The healthiest team and the team that takes care of their classroom grades the most will probably be the team that’s most successful.”

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Through three games Cony (1-2) is in a similar position to the one it was in a season ago.

Thus far the Rams have lost to Brunswick (3-0) and Mt. Blue (2-1) 58-27 and 20-6, respectively, and defeated Messalonskee 33-27. Last fall, Cony also started 1-2 with a tight win over the Eagles, a blowout loss to the Dragons and close loss at Brewer.

The Rams are hoping history continues to repeat itself Friday when they host Lawrence (0-3). Cony beat the Bulldogs last season at the same point to kick off a five-game winning streak.

“Our kids are ready for the rest of the season,” Cony coach B.L. Lippert said. “We’ve got a lot of seniors on this team and they know this is their last chance to make a run at anything.”

Lippert also knows a win against Lawrence — despite its record — will not come easy.

“They might be the best 0-3 team in the state if you ask me,” Lippert said. “I try not to say must win unless it truly is a must win, but it’s a game we have to have to get into the playoffs and do some damage.”

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While most of the state has already played two or three games, Kents Hill is gearing up for its season opener Saturday when it hosts Hyde (Connecticut) at 2 p.m.

“We took advantage of the time we had but they’re looking forward to playing someone different,” Huskies coach Steve Shukie said of the preseason.

When the Huskies take the field Saturday they will also debut a new offense as they switch over from a multiple-look attack to the triple option. Shukie said it is something he has wanted to put in for a number of years but it did not quite fit his personnel in the past.

“That’s been looking good for the past few days,” Shukie said. “The kids have been getting better at running it.”

First-year quarterback Remi Allard, a Quebec native, is penciled in to run the attack with veteran Trevor Guity at fullback. Tory Brown and Ben Storey, among others, will slot in at the wingbacks.

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While Gardiner (0-3) has a had a tough start to the season, coach Joe White said he has seen glimpses of his team’s potential.

“There have been shades of doing the right thing now and again. It’s hits and starts,” White said. “When they’re playing well they’re doing well and when they’re bad everything goes right downhill. When we lose big it’s because we don’t tackle well, we don’t block well up front and it’s just the opposite when we play well.”

White said the biggest thing has been finding consistency, which the Tigers hope to work on in the coming weeks. A bout with the flu that sidelined a number of starters over the past few weeks has seemingly run its course and the team should be at full strength when it takes on Nokomis (0-3) Friday.

“It would be a huge boost of confidence (to get a win Friday),” White said. “That’s just how we’ve been approaching it. Get better this week and try to stay positive with it.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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