It might seem like a foregone conclusion. Wells, last year’s Class C champion, is heading down to Class D this year. Surely, the Warriors are going to terrorize the smaller schools like some Goliath let loose, right?

Not so fast. Their own coach isn’t even buying it.

“I don’t like the way (people think) ‘Oh, you’re in Class D, you should dominate,’ ” Warriors coach Tim Roche said. “Really? Because I have a feeling there are a lot of Class D teams that can beat a lot of Class C teams.”

Wells could be up against one tonight. The Warriors will make their debut in their new class against one of its best from last year in Winthrop-Monmouth, which went undefeated in the regular season and reached the D South final.

Both teams figure to be featured players in a loaded D South race this year, and the region’s first marquee matchup could be a good one.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Roche said. “I think it’s an exciting time for Wells football, with these new opponents.”

On the other side, Winthrop/Monmouth coach Dave St. Hilaire knows the challenge his team is up against. He said the Wells team coming to Maxwell Field is different than the one that shredded Mount Desert Island in the Class C title game, but that the Warriors’ knowledge and execution of their scheme still makes them a difficult matchup.

“They graduated quite a few seniors last year, and on film, you can see that they’re not as physically strong and crisp,” he said. “But they still do the right things. Their linebackers flow well to the ball, they execute their depth on their pulls.”

The familiarity between the teams isn’t extensive. Wells has played Class D competition before in Lisbon and Oak Hill, but according to Roche has never faced the Ramblers.

“I don’t think we’ve played Winthrop before, so that’s pretty cool,” he said. “I think the kids will be ready to show what they can do against Winthrop. We stress all the time, these are good football teams.”

Here’s a look at the Wells-Winthrop/Monmouth matchup:

Where: Maxwell Field, Winthrop

When: 7 tonight

St. Hilaire on Wells: “They execute the wing-T very well. … They’ve got a big, bruising fullback, their quarterback’s a big, tall, strong kid. They’re trying to get guys up to speed just like we are, but they certainly do things right, just watching the film of their scrimmages and exhibition games.”

Roche on W/M: “I think the QB’s young, but he throws a nice ball and he runs well. They’ve got some good size on the line. … It doesn’t look like they have a ton of kids out, but they look like a physical football team.”

Three keys for W/M:

No room for Nolan Potter. That big, bruising fullback St. Hilaire described is Potter, who ran for a touchdown in the Class D title game win over MDI and who Roche called a “stud.” St. Hilaire likes his defensive line, one led by Luke St. Hilaire and Zac Wallace, but if Potter is able to consistently gain 4 or 5 yards, the Ramblers could take hits in field position and stamina.

Minimize mistakes. There are a lot of new playmakers on the Rambler offense, most notably sophomore quarterback and first-year starter Keegan Choate. Perfect play is an unfair expectation, and mistakes will likely be made. They just can’t be of the pick-six or red zone fumble variety.

Forget last year. This mostly concerns Wells, and not being intimidated by how easy a time the Warriors had in the championship game of a higher class a season ago. But if there is any hangover effect from W/M’s loss to Lisbon in the D South final, that should be erased as well.

Three keys for Wells:

Who has Cameron Gaghan? There’s no secret: the Ramblers want to put the ball in their best weapon’s hands. W/M will look to get Gaghan involved on passes and runs — he can also take some snaps at quarterback — and if the Warriors don’t have an answer for the slippery senior, he could make them pay a few times before the night’s over.

Fluster the quarterback. With a first-year starter in Choate, Wells should make it a point to make life difficult for him. Whether it’s changing up defensive looks or applying pressure, the Warriors should make sure they coerce the sophomore into mistakes.

Control the tempo. Wells isn’t looking for a balance between the run and the pass — not unless they have to. If the Warriors have their way, it’ll be one bruising run after another.

“We’ll run the ball down their throats, I hope,” Roche said. “We have a good QB, he can throw the ball, but we want to establish the run and come out with the pass.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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