Winning a championship produces the unforgettable memories the players and coaches involved get to treasure forever.

Unless they’re trying to win another, however. Then they can’t get those images of celebrations and trophies out of their heads fast enough.

Such is the case with the Oak Hill football team. The third-seeded Raiders are three-time defending Class D champions, and they have the makings of a team that will be in the running again as they begin their playoff pursuit Saturday afternoon against sixth-seeded Traip.

There are a lot of parallels between those title runs and this year’s postseason endeavor. But Stacen Doucette and the Raiders aren’t the ones making them.

“That’s last year. This is this year,” Doucette said. “It’s 2016, and this year’s senior group is excited to get into the playoffs and do the best that we can.”

Fair enough. But it’s hard not to connect the dots when Oak Hill opens against the same Rangers team it beat last week in the regular-season finale — which was the same exact situation, down to the opponent, the Raiders prevailed in on the way to the title last year.

Familiar foes are a theme this postseason. The area’s other postseason tilt, tonight’s Class B North battle between No. 6 Cony and No. 3 Lawrence, is a rematch of Sept. 23’s game in Fairfield. But while Oak Hill will look back fondly on its last game with Traip, Cony can’t do the same with Lawrence — not after the Bulldogs roughed up the Rams, 36-12, at Keyes Field.

“It wasn’t our best night offensively,” coach B.L. Lippert said. “We turned the ball over four times. Lawrence did a great job of playing their zone defense and spying on the quarterback, reading his eyes, and we threw a couple of balls to them.”

The Raiders controlled the game against Traip en route to the 33-13 victory, but utilized a different offensive approach. After relying heavily on the shifty running of Steven Gilbert throughout the season, Oak Hill went at the Rangers with a committee attack. Six different players generated a total of 260 yards and four touchdowns, with Cruz Poirier (11 carries, 57 yards, two touchdowns) leading the way.

It was a commanding win, though Doucette said he’s hoping for more consistency from start to finish on Saturday.

“Offensively, we made very few mistakes in the first half, and we want to try to translate that to the second half this week,” he said. “We’ve got to start to execute in the second half a little better. Come out for our first drive in the third quarter with a sense of urgency.”

Even though it was clear that, win or lose, the two teams would face each other the next week, Doucette said the Raiders didn’t put too much thought into not tipping their hand too much.

“We played our game,” he said. “We felt we had to win the game, do what we had to do. … We didn’t hide anything, and we aren’t this week either.”

The same gameplan as before is a non-starter for Cony, which was beaten in all facets by the Bulldogs in September. Lawrence’s secondary picked off four passes and derailed the Rams’ passing attack, the line shut down the running game and Cony had no answer for a Lawrence running game and special teams led by Gunner McAllister and Tyler Larouche.

“Defensively we forced a couple of turnovers, but we were just on the field for too long because our offensive possessions were sometimes one or two plays, and then back on defense,” Lippert said. “We need to be more consistent offensively, play complementary football … Overall, we need to play better. We finally played pretty well on the road Friday night in Gardiner, and we have to continue that transition (this week).”

Fortunately for the Rams, Lippert said enough time has passed that the teams that met in September aren’t the same ones meeting in late October.

“We’ve changed a lot on offense. They’re a little bit different defensively, and we’re a much more diverse offense than we were in Week 4,” he said. “You can watch the film, for sure, but you really need to look at what they’re doing lately to forecast what they’re going to be doing offensively and defensively for this playoff game.”

What Lawrence has done recently is win six straight games and enter the postseason as Class B’s hottest team besides undefeated Brunswick. Lippert is confident the Rams’ passing attack, which was clicking over the last three weeks, will be humming better this time around, though he added that turning that into a win won’t be easy.

“They always play well at home,” he said. “That’s as big a challenge as anything, is being on the road up there.

“Hopefully round 2, we do better than in round 1.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM


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