The schedule hasn’t been kind to the Winthrop/Monmouth football team. Now, with the calendar about to flip from September to October, it’s trying to make amends.

The Ramblers sit near the bottom of Class D’s South region, battered at 1-3 after run-ins with some of the best teams in the class. First it was Wells, last year’s Class C champion, followed by matchups with Old Orchard Beach, Madison and Spruce Mountain — teams that are a combined 13-3 heading into this weekend.

Now, however, it’s time for a reprieve. Winthrop/Monmouth gets 1-3 Ellsworth this weekend and 0-4 Poland the next, marking a perfect opportunity for the Ramblers to pull themselves back into the playoff race.

“With what we have coming up, it’s something that if we do play well, it’ll give us some confidence,” coach Dave St. Hilaire said. “Where those other games, it was just you hope you don’t get behind early, because if you do, that’s going to take the energy from our side.”

The Ramblers were handled by Wells and Madison by a combined 93-8 score, but they handed Old Orchard Beach its only loss, and St. Hilaire said Friday’s loss to Spruce Mountain was as much about his team’s execution as the Phoenix’s play.

“Defensively, we didn’t tackle well. It was probably the worst tackling I’ve seen from us, and tackling hasn’t been an issue for us this year,” St. Hilaire said. “But it certainly was (Friday) night. I think they converted, I don’t know, maybe five or six fourth downs. We had them stopped quite a few times and we’d miss two or three tackles on one play.”

Winthrop/Monmouth has also struggled to get its run game going, which, for a team that bases its offense on an ability to churn out yards on the ground, has been crippling throughout the slow start.

“When we can’t establish the run, it makes passing that much more difficult,” St. Hilaire said. “We’re not a pass-first team; we’re a team that needs to rely on our run first. … It’s been something we’ve been struggling with all season. We haven’t had the holes up front open up, we’re not getting to the second layer (of the defense) and we’re not always hitting the hole as quick as we need to.”

• • •

A potentially big win for Cony came with two potentially bigger losses.

Linebacker Mike Wozniak and defensive lineman Jake Mills left the Rams’ 32-8 win over Mt. Blue within minutes of each other at the end of the second quarter, with each suffering season-ending ACL tears while defending a Cony fumble and interception, respectively.

“Our team certainly was a little bit shell-shocked, to be honest with you,” coach B.L. Lippert said. “It was a pretty somber sideline.”

The two were starters, and worse, two of the team’s key players. Mills led the team in sacks, while Wozniak entered the game as the team’s leader in tackles.

“I would think our run defense (took the biggest hit) just because Jake’s done a really good job setting the edge and Michael’s just got really good instincts … filling C gap and chasing plays across the field,” he said. “It’s something that’s going to test us, there’s no doubt about that.”

The timing of the injuries meant Cony got a head start on making up for the players’ absence. Mills was a two-way starter on the defensive and offensive lines, and defensive tackle Devon Thomas took his place at center while Allyx Chabot filled in at defensive end. Jakob Arbour, who wasn’t starting on either side of the ball before taking over at right tackle two weeks ago, will start both ways now after sliding over to Wozniak’s spot at linebacker on defense.

Lippert was happy with how all three looked, but said the team could shift players around to find the best mix.

“There could be some times we kind of mix around the personnel to get some guys on the field,” he said. “What it really does is just sort of shorten our bench. We just don’t have the depth going into games you hope that you have. That’s going to be the most significant thing. We’ve talked about looking at some of the freshmen that have played well, and maybe start suiting them up on Friday nights.”

• • •

The losses haven’t come by much at Gardiner this season. The Tigers are 1-3 in Class C South but have been competitive throughout the season, scoring 60 points while giving up only 63 and losing their three games by eight, 12 and three points to Cape Elizabeth, Leavitt and York — teams that are a combined 9-3.

The oh-so-close nature of the games manifests itself in the Heal points standings, where the Tigers sit in third place above Cape Elizabeth, Morse and Lake Region (all 3-1), and coach Joe White said confidence is still high despite the team’s inability to break through on the scoreboard after an opening win over Morse.

“We’re still very upbeat and positive about what we’re doing and where we’re going,” he said. “We’re in every game, there’s no question. And the kids were confident that they were going to be coming into the season.”

The defense hasn’t been the issue. It’s been the offense, which has either been flat at times or has been hurt by ill-timed miscues, such as a block in the back penalty that negated a long touchdown run against York that might have sealed a win.

“Offensively, we’re consistently shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties, lack of execution, ripping off big runs and big plays only to have them called back,” he said. “We haven’t quite polished our offensive set, and we want to do that. Defensively, we’re in great shape. Offensively, we just have to continue to rep and cut down on mistakes.”

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