Opening weekend will be throwback weekend in the Campbell Conference as all of the league’s games are scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

With Boothbay electing not to play varsity football this season, the new league schedule has two teams, Old Orchard Beach and Traip Academy, sitting out Week 1 with byes. That leaves just three games this weekend, all at fields without lights.

On Saturday, Medomak Valley makes its conference debut when it hosts Dirigo. Three-time defending Class D champion Oak Hill hosts Maranacook. In a matchup of two teams favored to challenge the Raiders for their throne, Winthrop/Monmouth travels to Lisbon for a matinée showdown.

All games kick off at 1:30 p.m.

Two teams will also have byes in weeks 2, 3 and 8. The conference will have full four-game schedules in weeks four through seven.

Conference officials tweaked the schedule so teams wouldn’t have two scheduled byes but could also keep the scrimmages they have scheduled with club teams. That means, for example, that Oak Hill will start its season with three home games and a bye — Maranacook, Old Orchard Beach, bye, and Medomak Valley — then hit the road three straight weeks against Lisbon, Winthrop/Monmouth and Dirigo before closing the regular season at home against Traip Academy.

“I think our (schedule) changed the most,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said. “We’ve got a tough road schedule in October.”

The original schedule had the Raiders’ first road game at Dirigo in Week 2. The new schedule gives Dirigo a bye that week.

Winthrop/Monmouth plays three of its first four on the road — at Lisbon, Traip and Old Orchard — with its home opener Sept. 16 against Dirigo. The Ramblers share a Week 7 bye with Week 6 opponent Maranacook. If those teams earn one of the top two seeds in the playoffs, they will have another bye week before the conference semifinals.

Maranacook’s home opener is in Week 2, Sept. 9 against Lisbon.

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Cony concluded its preseason with a rare Saturday matinée in Newport, where it scrimmaged Nokomis. The Rams led 20-7 at halftime en route to a 35-7 victory.

Coach B.L. Lippert said he was pleased with the improvement the Rams showed from their controlled scrimmage against Morse last Monday. Led by senior QB Taylor Heath, the offense moved the ball well and executed more consistently while the defense showed a bend-but-don’t-break mentality against a young Warrior team.

“The biggest goal coming out of those two weeks of double sessions is to have your guys primed and ready to go, and I think we have done that,” he said.

The Rams shouldn’t have any problem getting ready emotionally for their opener Friday night at Alumni Field against Mt. Blue. The Cougars beat them in last year’s season-opener, 20-6, then, in the PTC B quarterfinals, rallied from a 20-point halftime deficit to shock the Rams, 35-34.

Lippert said that playoff loss still stings him and the players who played in that game. He expects it will add a little more juice to an already highly-charged season-opener.

More than revenge, though, Lippert wants his team to focus on getting the season off to a good start.

“It’s a huge game,” he said. “Our first two being at home — Mt. Blue then Messalonskee — those are two crucial games for us if we want to do any damage in the league this year.”

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After changing its offense and moving some players around to start preseason, Gardiner went into Saturday’s scrimmage with Spruce Mountain having to shift some more personnel due to various injuries.

“We had a couple of guys get hurt, so we were moving people around, and the kids stuck with it,” Gardiner coach Joe White said. “We pulled through it and ended up putting some points on the board.”

The Tigers showed big-play ability on several occasions, particularly on a long punt return by Kolton Brochu and a quick-hitter from new quarterback Cole Heaberlin to tight end Hunter Russell. Senior Cody Spencer and sophomore Matt Boynton also showed a burst of speed out of the backfield.

“If we can find ways to get (Spencer, Brochu and Boynton) those guys the ball 10 or 12 times a game, we’re probably in pretty good shape,” White said.

Gardiner was without a starting trio of two-way players — Kaleb Caron, Garrett Maheux and Tanner Hebert — due to injuries. Caron and Maheux are expected to return for Friday’s opener against Messalonskee in Oakland. Hebert, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, could return next week against Skowhegan.

The Tigers lost junior cornerback Collin Foye for at least three weeks due to a collapsed lung suffered in Saturday’s game.

• • •

Oak Hill wrapped up its preseason by scrimmaging Traip Academy in Kittery on Saturday.

“We’ve improved, but we’ve got a lot more improving to do,” Doucette said.

The Raiders’ opponent for the opener, Maranacook, has a new head coach, former defensive coordinator Bill Getty. Doucette expects the Black Bears to come out with a new attitude, which could make them a dangerous team for the Raiders to overlook.

“It’s a very physical team and a very big team,” Doucette said. “With a new coach, there’s always a new vibe. I’m sure they’re going to be excited.”

• • •

Saturday’s game between Winthrop/Monmouth and Lisbon matches two teams that are considered favorites in Western D. Ramblers coach Dave St. Hilaire acknowledges the game could be critical to playoff seeding, but doesn’t want his players to get so fired up they can’t focus on the task at hand.

“I told the kids to we need to play with intensity and we need to execute,” he said. “It’s Week 1. It’s a long season. It’s a big game, but we can’t be so emotional that we don’t execute.”

• • •

Players and coaches have three new rules to follow for the new season — two involving equipment and one involving blocking.

The most significant change adopted by the National Federation of State High School Associations makes clipping — blocking below the waist from behind — illegal everywhere on the field.

The latest safety measure by the NFHS, the rule eliminates the free-blocking zone — which was defined as a rectangular area extending laterally 4 yards either side of the spot of the snap and 3 yards behind each line of scrimmage.

The other changes involve specifications for mouth guards and gloves.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

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Twitter: @RAWmaterial33