The beast is gone. And that makes Class D a whole new ballgame.

For the past two years, the biggest prize available to all but one of the Class D teams was the opportunity to get flattened by Wells in the regional final or state championship game. The Warriors won every game they played, won both Gold Balls by a combined score of 103-20 and had their competition searching in vain for a way to slow them down.

Now Wells is in Class C. And Class D supremacy is up for grabs.

Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale quarterback Keegan Choate takes a snap during a game last season in Winthrop. Choate and the Ramblers should contend in Class D South this season. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale could take it. The Ramblers have a three-year starter in quarterback Keegan Choate, who can win a game through the air or with his legs, and whom coach Dave St. Hilaire said has complete control of the offense in his senior season.

“He’s going to put up some really good numbers this year,” St. Hilaire said. “He’s the hardest worker we have on the team. … He definitely is the centerpiece of our team.”

He has an abundance of weapons. The Ramblers are stocked with both speed (receivers Beau Schmelzer and Jacob Sousa) and power (running back Jevin Smith) at the skill positions, and they have an experienced offensive line to open up holes and protect Choate.

“We have nine or 10 guys that can run, can catch the ball very well, run really good routes,” St. Hilaire said. “We’re going to be fast, with a power game if we need (it).”

On defense, Smith and Shane Tweedie are leaders up front. The linebacking corps is low on experience, however, and is the biggest area of uncertainty for a team going into the fall with high hopes.

“We think we’re going to be one of the better teams in the conference,” St. Hilaire said. “If we get everybody giving their full effort and locked in, we’re going to be a very dangerous team.”

Oak Hill is poised for a strong season as well. The Raiders were supposed to be in for a down year last year with freshmen and sophomores dotting the starting lineups, but all Oak Hill did with that youth was come one win away from the state championship game.

I think that we’re going to be competitive,” coach Stacen Doucette said. “I don’t know where we are in the mix. … I think we have more depth. We probably have a lot of talent this year.”

Like the Ramblers, Oak Hill is led by its quarterback. Gavin Rawstron emerged as a dangerous passer and runner this year, and that and and his defensive skills at safety earned some praise from his coach.

“I believe he’s a player of the year candidate for our conference,” Doucette said.

He’ll have running back Sam Lindsay and receivers Caden Thompson and Liam Rodrigue for support. On defense, Oak Hill can rotate nine linemen, and Doucette said that unit, led by Kyle Stilkey, is a strength of the team’s.

“We’re doing pretty well on defense,” Doucette said. “We have to find an identity on offense.”

Madison has a new head coach, Paul Withee, who coached Foxcroft Academy to three Class C state championships. The Bulldogs will no longer run the spread pistol offense, instead going with an open set look with wing-T tendencies. Madison fans shouldn’t take this to mean the Bulldogs are abandoning wide open football.

“We’ll run some gun, absolutely, with some of the kids we have,” Withee said.

Junior Bryce Willette takes over at quarterback for the Bulldogs. Senior Reid Campbell and juniors Christian Cabrera and Kaleb Nichols will be in the backfield. Juniors Thomas Dean and Cameron Cobb give Madison a pair of tall, athletic receivers. Senior captain Dylan Leach, a guard, leads the offensive line.

“We have good size up front and hope to take advantage of that,” Withee said. “We’ve got to stay healthy in the backfield.”

Madison’s roster is bolstered by 10 players from nearby Carrabec High.

In the Little Ten Conference, Mount View knows it has some work to do to contend with the league’s big three: Foxcroft Academy, Bucksport, and Mattanawcook Academy. That said, the Mustangs were a playoff team last season and should contend for a spot this season.

“We had a good offseason in the weight room and had a good 7 on 7 this summer,” coach Rick Leary said. “We hope to go a step further, but we have to stay healthy.”

Health took an early swipe at Mount View when returning quarterback Brady Moulton suffered a shoulder injury in the team’s scrimmage. Sophomore Sawyer Inman will run the offense until Moulton can return. Colby and Kyle Ingraham return to anchor the line on both sides of the ball.

EIGHT-MAN

Maranacook is one of 11 teams making the move to eight-man football, and the Black Bears are waiting to see how that works out.

“It’s really hard (to forecast),” first-year coach Jordan DeMillo said. “You can’t. I don’t know what Mt. Ararat has. I don’t know what Yarmouth has.

“The eight guys I put on the field are very athletic. I’m hopeful for them, but being that it’s eight-man and I’m new to this, they’re new to this, we’re all new to this, I have no idea what the expectations are.”

Garit Laliberte returns at quarterback and was the team’s top threat last year, and six of the 11 offensive starters from 2018 are back. It’s a group that also includes running back Clayton House and receiver Isac Philbrick, and House (linebacker) and Philbrick (safety) will also anchor the defense as well.

The Maranacook football team scrimmages Old Orchard Beach on Aug. 26 in Readfield. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

In the prep MAISAD league, Kents Hill is also making its eight-man debut. The Huskies return the starting quarterback from last year’s 5-3 team in Nick Sebastian, as well as their top cornerback and receiver in Max Macchioni.

Kents Hill also lost 15 of its 24 players from last season, and coach Steve Shukie said the team has a tall task to fill those holes.

“We’re going to see if we can pride ourselves on being the defensive power in the league,” he said. “The points will come.”

 

 

 

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