AUGUSTA — Joe White and B.L. Lippert are new to the rivalry between the Cony and Gardiner high school football teams in position only.

The two first-year head coaches are each former players and assistant coaches at Gardiner and Cony, respectively, and are well aware of what Friday’s 7 p.m. contest at Alumni Field is all about.

“It’s hard to not be really excited about it. My family has been a part of it for generations,” White said. “I have a deeper sense of pride now knowing that I’m leading some young people into that experience. You can’t say enough about it.”

Each team has had their runs of success in the rivalry over the years, but Cony has fared better recently as winners of the previous three contests. The last time one of the teams took at least three or more games in a row was when Gardiner won five straight from 2002-06.

Here is a look at how this year’s teams match up:

Players to watch: Gardiner — QB Eli Kropp, G/OLB Nate Thibeau, RB Cody Spencer, RB Josh Farrin, C Spencer King, DB Isaiah Swan. Cony — WR/CB Anthony Brunelle, RB/OLB Joel Bennett, QB/WR Taylor Heath, DE Dylan Tudeen, DE Benaiah Willhoite, LB Max Storey, RB/LB Reid Shostak.

Gardiner coach Joe White on Cony: “(Shostak) brings a variable to the game that you can’t help but make the center of your attention. We’re going to key him. He gets the ball a lot, as he should. He’s an old-fashioned back that can just ground and pound, and we certainly need to keep on eye on him.”

Cony coach B.L. Lippert on Gardiner: “Their record is probably not as good as it should be. They’ve got some talented skill kids that are young. Kaleb Caron sticks out as a pretty good linebacker and tight end and they look like a hungry team. Their effort from the first kickoff to the last snap is 100 percent. That’s a team that can be dangerous.”

Three Keys for Gardiner:

1. Don’t get trucked.

Shostak is going to get the ball in Friday’s game and he is going to get his yards. The Tigers will need to make sure 2- or 3-yard gains do not turn into 10-yard gains by trying to go for the big hit up top. Shostak is capable of breaking multiple tackles on a single play and Gardiner will have to be fundamentally sound in its approach to tackling him.

2. Keep it close early.

Gardiner has fallen in deep deficits early in the past few years and against a team like Cony that could be tough to erase. The Tigers would do well both in terms of the game itself and from a confidence standpoint if they can keep it within a single score in either direction by halftime.

3. Watch for the trick play.

The Rams have not run too many of them over the past few years, but did pull one out last Friday night against Skowhegan. A wide receiver reverse pass from Chad Bickford to Anthony Brunelle went for a long gain against the Indians and might have even been a touchdown had a passing lane developed sooner for Bickford. Cony is not a gimmick team, but it does have a few tricks up its sleeve.

Three keys for Cony:

1. Push the tempo.

The Rams have a definite advantage in depth on the offensive and defensive lines. If Cony can push the tempo, it could tire out the Tigers by the third and fourth quarters.

2. Limit mistakes.

Penalties and turnovers have hurt the Rams more than anything else this season — particularly at the most inopportune times. If Cony can take care of the football and limit its penalties — particularly those of the 15 yard variety — it should be in good shape Friday night.

3. Stick with what works.

Cony has shown it can be dangerous both with Shostak running and Heath throwing. If the Rams find one of those areas proving more effective than the other early on, there is no reason for Cony to deviate.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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