WINSLOW — It was the kind of injury that many teams would find devastating, but when the Winslow High School football team lost leading rusher Ryan Fredette to a sprained ankle early in Saturday’s regional quarterfinal game against Waterville, the Black Raiders didn’t slow down. Ben Dorval picked up the slack, running for 148 yards and four touchdowns in the 49-13 win.

That success is a testament to the work of Winslow’s veteran offensive line. With four returning starters (Janeski started on the defensive line last season) from 2016 and five seniors, the Black Raiders enter the regional semifinals as one of the top offensive teams in Class C. Winslow (8-1) hosts Maine Central Institute (5-4) Saturday in the regional semifinals.

“We’ve been strong up front. Our running game’s been strong,” Winslow head coach Mike Siviski said.

Winslow’s offensive line is comprised of center Andrew Bolduc, guards Chris Jacques and Andrew Beckwith, tackles Cam Winslow and Keenan Janeski, and tight end Hunter Campbell. With the exception of Winslow, a junior, all are seniors. There’s a familiarity at play, and it shows.

“We’ve all played with each other since we were little,” Jacques said. “It happened pretty quick with us.”

Added Beckwith: “We have to have good communication on the line to really do our jobs well.”

Winslow averages just under 38 points per game. Saturday’s playoff win was the Black Raiders’ seventh consecutive game in which it scored at least 32 points. In the regular season, the Black Raiders averaged 373 yards per game, with 292 of that on the ground. Winslow ran for a season-high 453 yards in week three’s win over Waterville. Saturday’s win over Waterville in the playoff rematch was Winslow’s third consecutive game running for more than 300 yards.

“They’ve been paving the way. We’ve had quite a few times where we get into the second level. That makes a big difference,” Siviski said. “We’re just adapting and hoping everybody steps up. A hole is a hole. Let’s make it.”

Winslow’s offensive line foundation was strong coming into the season. Jacques and Winslow were returning all-conference selections at guard and tackle, respectively. Bolduc recovered from a preseasons trained hamstring, but midseason injuries in the first quarter of the Sept. 29 game at Hermon tested the Black Raiders depth. Jacques went down with a dislocated kneecap and missed two games, tackle Isaac Targett to a torn ACL.

“That’s when we lost everybody and had to stick together as a team,” Winslow said.

The veterans talked the young replacements through the game, a 35-33 Black Raiders win. With a makeshift line, Winslow gained 390 yards, 284 on the ground.

“The Hermon game wasn’t cohesive at all. We had a hard time. Hermon’s a pretty good team,” Siviski said.

Since that game, the Black Raiders have gotten healthy, and offensively are playing some of their best football of the season. In games against Gardiner, Oceanside, MCI, and Waterville, the Black Raiders averaged 39 points per game. On paper, this was Winslow’s toughest stretch of the season. Aside from Waterville, each of those opponents is playing in the regional semifinals this weekend. The Black Raiders are playing well. Siviski thinks they can play better.

“Believe it or not, we’re still trying to eliminate assignment mistakes, things like that. We try to get everybody on the same page. I guess it’s the same for every coach, every school,” Siviski said.

As the competition gets tougher, beginning with the rematch against MCI Saturday, the Black Raiders know what they need to do to continue getting better.

“We have to keep communicating,” Beckwith said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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