Cony running back Ashton Cunningham, left, scores a touchdown against Messalonskee during a Pine Tree Conference game Friday in Augusta. Cony quarterback Riley Geyer (13) and wide receiver Matt Wozniak, right, watch as Messalonskee linebacker Colton Chavarie tries to stop him. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Even before he put on his pads, jersey and helmet and trotted onto the field for his first start with the Cony football team, Riley Geyer was feeling the nerves.

And they weren’t going away.

“I was not ready at all. I was so nervous,” he said. “I’ll admit it, I was really nervous. I had never started a varsity sport besides baseball.”

If those nerves lingered beyond the opening kickoff, Geyer did a good job of hiding them. The sophomore went 13-of-14 in Cony’s 42-0 victory, throwing for 183 yards and a touchdown and running for another score.

“It’s hard. Playing quarterback at all is difficult, particularly in our offense because we ask so much of them,” coach B.L. Lippert said. “As a sophomore, I think that’s heightened even more.”

Knowing that was the case, Lippert made sure Geyer got acclimated quickly. His first eight passes, all completions, were either screens or quick passes, high-percentage plays designed to get playmakers like Reed Hopkins and Matt Wozniak the ball with space to run

— and take the pressure off of Geyer to move the offense.

“We throw a lot of screens and sort of short-game stuff, and you need to be accurate to complete those passes and give our receivers a chance to run,” Lippert said. “It’s not like handoffs, where anyone can do it. He made the right decision.”

The run of completions built the confidence in Geyer, whose ninth pass found Hopkins over the middle and in the back of the end zone for a 21-0 lead.

“My teammates really brought me up,” he said. “After the first couple of plays, I was like ‘Oh, this is fine.'”

Geyer showcased that attitude on his next pass, eluding the Messalonskee pressure, rolling left while patiently waiting for receivers to beat the coverage, and then throwing against his body to Hopkins after the senior found space downfield.

Lippert hopes that confidence will return this weekend as well.

“Tonight he proved that he can handle the offense, and it’ll just be a progression from here,” Lippert said. “On the road at Biddeford next week is going to be a challenge, no question about it. That’s something that he’s never done, starting on the road, and I guess that’ll be the next first of his career.”

• • •

Liam Rodrigue’s 19-yard touchdown catch was a pivotal play in Oak Hill’s 21-19 victory over Yarmouth, but the junior may have made an even bigger impact with his leg.

Rodrigue punted six times for a net average of 34.8 yards a kick, pinning the Clippers within their 30-yard line four times and keeping an Oak Hill team that had scored only seven points and rushed for only 19 yards through three quarters within striking distance.

“We feel that Liam’s one of the better kickers we’ve had,” coach Stacen Doucette said. “And punting, he did shift the field position. … It’s important. Flipping the field is important. And on kickoffs too, on kickoffs he pinned them inside the 10 I think twice.”

Rodrigue’s last punt provided both the game’s turning point and an element of drama. Summoned to play quarterback for a series after Gavin Rawstron left with cramps, Rodrigue began to cramp up as well at the end of the series, but he still limped back to punt with Oak Hill trailing 19-7 and just under two minutes to go in the third quarter.

Rodrigue went down in discomfort after the kick, but the ball still ended up at the Yarmouth 7, pinning the Clippers once again. The defense held, a Caleb Treadwell return brought the ball to the Yarmouth 13, the Raiders scored two plays later and the comeback was on.

And Doucette knew the role Rodrigue played in it.

“He’s a weapon,” he said. “We’re excited to have him.”

• • •

After a breakthrough season last year, the Maranacook football team is picking up where it left off.

The Black Bears won their opener Friday night, scoring an 8-0 victory over an Old Orchard Beach team that was in Class D a season ago. The win was another positive step for Maranacook, which reached the Class E final last year after a winless season in Class D in 2016.

“We’re definitely taking some baby steps here in the right direction,” said coach Walter Polky, whose team lost to the Seagulls 43-7 in 2016. “It’s good to see that the kids are competing and playing hard, and it pays with the result.”

Maranacook got the only touchdown it needed on a 2-yard Garit Laliberte run. The Black Bears also got a safety, and Polky said he was encouraged to see his defense hold up in what he described as a physical contest.

“That was one thing I was kind of nervous about, how our team would respond to a team that was a Class D team coming up,” he said. “We did well with the challenge. We played very physical the whole game.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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