It’s early yet, not even October. But there’s still something to be said for gaining an inside track on the postseason.

That’s what’s at stake when the Cony and Mt. Blue football teams, both 1-2, meet tonight. Playoff spots won’t be wrapped up or lost, but as Rams coach B.L. Lippert said, there’s a difference between pulling even halfway through the season and falling into a 1-3 hole and looking for answers.

“Both teams are in that range where you can get back to .500 and feel pretty good about yourself,” he said. “You want to avoid a 1-3 start, it doesn’t put you out of the playoffs because six out of eight teams do make it. But at this point in the season, when you’re trying to start to build a little bit of momentum, 1-3 isn’t a good way to accomplish that.”

Speaking of momentum, the Rams found some last week against Brunswick. The offense finally clicked for Cony, with Anthony Sousa finding Jordan Roddy for three touchdowns in a 26-14 win, and the defense continued its strong start to the season.

“This group isn’t going to lack confidence, they just have a faith in themselves and the work they put in,” Lippert said. “But they’re not overconfident. They know in this league, in particular this year, it’s pretty well-balanced. You could win any game, you could lose any game, and they’re cognizant of that.”

Mt. Blue is looking for a return to form after a 36-14 loss to Brewer in which it battled but struggled to keep up with the Witches in the trenches. The Cougars impressed in the week before that, looking dominant in a 34-0 victory over Hampden.

“We wanted to play our best football against Brewer and we certainly didn’t,” coach Nate Quirion said. “We want to put our best foot forward when we go down to Augusta tomorrow. Our expectation is to win, but we’ll have to execute to do so.”

Here’s a look at the matchup:

Where: Alumni Field, Augusta

When: 7 tonight

Cony’s Lippert on Mt. Blue: “They’re well-coached. … They play with a lot of enthusiasm, they’ve got a couple of really good playmakers, their fullback, Randy Barker, and Abram Meader are both really talented backs. They had a pretty good challenge against Brewer last week, who’s a big and physical team, if not for a couple of turnovers. I think that kind of swung it in Brewer’s favor early on, but they battled.”

Mt. Blue’s Quirion on Cony: “They try to spread you out with their attack. … They all run and catch the ball well, and the quarterback’s developed. We’re familiar with the athletes they have, and all of them can catch the ball.”

Three keys for Mt. Blue:

• Cornerbacks, step up.

Cony likes to throw, and will be itching to move the ball through the air after having its most productive offensive game last weekend. The Rams utilize a pair of game-breaking receivers in Eli Dutil and Jordan Roddy, who can make plays with screens and downfield routes. Mt. Blue defensive backs will have to keep the throwing windows closed.

• Batter the line.

Cony’s defense impressed against Skowhegan and Brunswick, but had trouble stopping Falmouth quarterback Jack Bryant on runs up the middle in the season opener. Leaning on Barker and Meader and gaining some tough yards early could soften the Rams up front and open some holes by the second half that aren’t there in the first.

• Wrap them up.

Cony’s receivers thrive not so much on burning secondaries, but on making defenders miss after the catch and taking off for big gains. Cougar defenders will have to limit those extra yards.

“We’ll have to be able to tackle in space,” Quirion said. “We’re going to have to be pretty balanced on defense. We can’t over-commit to the run, we can’t over-commit to the pass.”

Three keys for Cony:

• Get Sousa into a comfort zone.

It’s been an up-and-down start to the season for Sousa, who’s playing his first year under center for Cony. The senior had things click last week, however, and the Rams’ offense came to life as a result. Sousa has utilized screens and rollout passes to get into a rhythm, and doing the same tonight could get the Rams marching early.

• Keep it up on D.

Last year, Cony had trouble matching up with teams in the trenches, which meant its productive aerial attack was often playing from behind or pressured into winning shootouts. This year, the Rams have been far more sturdy on the line, and have gotten contributions from all three tiers to stop the run. If they can bottle up the Mt. Blue ground game early on, command of the game shifts to the Cony sideline.

• Feed off the crowd.

It’s homecoming at Cony, so the atmosphere will be more charged than usual. Draw on the fans’ enthusiasm for some early scores, which could in turn make for a more hostile environment for the Cougars to play in.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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