Winthrop/Monmouth and Lisbon both share a common goal to start the 2016 high school football season — bring an end to three-time defending state champion Oak Hill’s dominance over the Campbell Conference Class D.

The Ramblers and Greyhounds will probably have to go through each other to do that — if not in the playoffs, then in Week 1. Many conference observers believe both teams have a good chance of claiming the conference crown, and Saturday’s matchup in Lisbon could determine home field advantage in the playoffs.

Here’s a look at Saturday’s season-opening matchup between the Ramblers and the Greyhounds.

When: 1:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Thompson Field, Lisbon

Winthrop/Monmouth coach Dave St. Hilaire on Lisbon: “It’s the same Lisbon team that we’re familiar with. They’re big, they’re physical and they’ve got a quarterback that you’ve got to contain.”

Lisbon coach Dick Mynahan on Winthrop/Monmouth: “Last year, they were probably a short way from getting to the state championship game, and I hear they have 19 seniors. When you have 19 seniors, you’ve got quite a squad going for you.”

Keys for Winthrop/Monmouth

• Contain quarterback Tyler Halls. One of the most dynamic athletes in Class D, Halls is being recruited by several colleges to play wide receiver next year. Always a threat to make a big play with his legs or his arm.

• Establish the run. The Ramblers are deep up front and in the backfield, with fullback Alec Brown and halfback Nate Scott the featured ball-carriers. Lisbon has a big, talented defensive front. Running the ball early and often will accomplish two things — wear the Greyhounds down and keep dangerous pass rushers such as Tyrese Joseph from pinning their ears back and pressuring QB Matt Ingram.

“They have four tough, tough kids up front,” St. Hilaire said. “Our biggest concern offensively is we have to block those guys because if we don’t, we can’t get to the next level (of the defense).”

• Finish tackles. Lisbon presents a major challenge with the elusive Hall and two big, physical running backs in brothers Noah and Lucas Francis. Poor tackling will give all three the opportunity to make a short gain a big play.

Keys for Lisbon

• Conditioning. The Greyhounds are famous for their conditioning and for thriving in the September heat at Thompson Field (in black uniforms, no less). But the Ramblers are much deeper and can keep players fresh better than most Class D teams. Mynahan plans to rotate players in and out on both sides to try to diffuse that advantage and be ready for what could be an arduous fourth quarter.

“At Lisbon, as usual, we have a short list of varsity players,” Mynahan said, “and against Winthrop our real problem is going to be that they have so many players.”

• Get Halls in space. Winthrop has some good athletes, but no one who can match Halls’ speed and quickness. Getting him on the edges, where he can get the ball to one of the Francis brothers or his big receiver, Joseph, or tuck it and run, could lead to a lot of first downs.

• Pressure Ingram. The Ramblers have a lot of speedy weapons for their quarterback to feed the ball, too, including Scott and split end Bennett Brooks. If they get separation and Ingram has time, there could be some big-play opportunities.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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