AUGUSTA — If you are a fan of the spread offense, Friday night’s game between the Cony and Skowhegan football teams is for you.

Over the past couple years, few teams have thrown the ball around more effectively — or frequently — than the Rams and Indians.

That being said, do not be surprised if the two teams run the ball more than usual Friday night — particularly if the field conditions are wet. Each has shown, too, that they are more than capable of winning games on the ground.

Skowhegan enters the game fresh off a 33-21 win over Messalonskee in which quarterback Garrett McSweeney rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown. He also threw for 163 yards and a score.

Cony, meanwhile, will counter on the ground with senior Reid Shostak. One of the top players in Pine Tree Conference B, Shostak is coming off a career-best performance in a 47-14 win over Hampden in which he rushed for 214 yards and four touchdowns.

This will also be the healthiest Shostak has been all season after suffering an elbow injury in the preseason, as he is expected to play without the bulky brace on his arm for the first time this fall.

McSweeney and Shostak will hardly be the only ones to have an impact on Friday’s contest. Here is a look at how the two teams match up:

Players to watch: Skowhegan — QB McSweeney, TE/DE Sam Baker, RB/S Kam Doucette, T/DT Owen Boardman, WR/S Spencer Salley. Cony — WR/CB Anthony Brunelle, RB/OLB Joel Bennett, QB/WR Taylor Heath, DE Dylan Tudeen, DE Benaiah Willhoite, LB Max Storey, RB/LB Shostak.

Skowhegan coach Matt Friedman on Cony: “They’re very similar to previous years. They’re very athletic, certainly a change of pace compared to what we’ve been seeing lately. We’ve seen three ground-based, physical teams and now we’re facing a team more like us. They have a lot of athletes that can run in space.”

Cony coach B.L. Lippert on Skowhegan: “They’re very good. Their offense is as good as it’s been under (Friedman). McSweeney throws the ball very accurately and as we saw last week, he can run the ball. They’re just overall a really good team. There’s a reason they’re 5-1 and in the battle for that one seed.”

Three keys for Cony:

1. Set defense up to succeed. When the Rams have gotten into trouble this season, it has been through turnovers or a general inability to sustain drives. This has put the team’s defense in situations where it is either defending a short field or on it for entirely too long. If Cony can limit its mistakes, it will have an opportunity to get a win Friday.

2. Start fast. While both teams possess explosive enough offenses to play catch up, an early one- or two-score advantage will put the Rams in a good position. Cony has had issues at times finding a rhythm and an early advantage could allow the Rams to settle in and play with confidence.

3. Get to McSweeney. If McSweeney has time in the pocket he can pick an opposing defense apart. The Rams know as well as anyone how to defend the spread, and will need a strong pass rush and good coverage in the secondary to keep the Indians in check.

Three keys for Skowhegan:

1. Win the line of scrimmage. Skowhegan’s offensive line has been a strength for the team this season — particularly in pass-blocking schemes — but the defensive line has been susceptible at times. In the Indians’ lone loss to Brunswick, the Dragons created big holes for Will Bessey and his fellow running team’s stable of backs. Like Bessey, Shostak has the power to break tackles and speed to create long runs. Don’t make it any easier on him with open running lanes.

2. Watch the screens. While both teams run the spread, each runs a different version of the offense. Cony likes to call wide receiver screens, drag routes over the middle and short dumpoffs to the running backs. Be prepared because the Rams can turn short passes into long gains in a hurry.

3. Stay true on offense. Over its past five games Skowhegan is averaging 33.6 points per game, a stretch that included games against two of the conference’s best in Brewer and Brunswick. The Indians have seemingly gotten what they wanted on offense this season and if they find a match up they like, there is no reason to go away from it.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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