AUGUSTA — Two of the Pine Tree Conference’s most surprising success stories will meet up tonight.

On one hand, there’s Windham, which went 0-8 last year but has raced out to a 3-1 start in its first season in Class B and climbed to the top of the B North standings. Then there’s Cony, which lost nearly every starter on defense and most of its running backs and receivers but hasn’t skipped a beat, jumping to a sparkling 4-0 start.

Something will have to give tonight, but neither coach is willing to dress up the early October tilt as some season-defining matchup.

“It’s been more just opportunity,” Windham coach Matt Perkins answered when asked what his message was for his team. “Last year, these guys were oh-fer. That was a big change, we had an 11-year run as being a top team in the state of Maine. … For a lot of these guys, it’s new. We just try to face each week as an opportunity. Here’s this week, how do we handle it?”

“We almost never talk to them too much about (the stakes). First of all, I can never figure out what the ramifications of this game would be,” Cony coach B.L. Lippert said. “It’s too hard to forecast. … At this point, you just play the schedule that’s ahead of you. We’ve had a really good season so far just focusing on the single game that’s in front of us.”

Here’s a closer look at the Cony-Windham matchup

When: 7 tonight

Where: Windham High School field, Windham

Cony coach B.L. Lippert on Windham: “They’ve got some athletes, and they’re pretty young, they’re like us in that way. … They’re multiple on offense, and they’re well-coached. They’re in the right gaps defensively, they don’t run a million plays offensively but what they do run, they run well. So you can tell that they’re well-coached, and they execute in the kicking game, so that’s something we have to be aware of this week.”

Windham coach Matt Perkins on Cony: “They’re very athletic, and they do a good job of utilizing all those athletes. You see some games where teams have good athletes and you say ‘Jeez, that kid really stands out but he doesn’t get the ball,’ where I think B.L. and Cony do a good of knowing their talent and finding a way to utilize it.”

Three keys for Cony

• Be smart with Jamal Cariglia. The Rams get one of their top ballcarriers back in Cariglia, who missed the first four games after a strong sophomore season and an impressive preseason, but they’ll have to find the right balance. On one hand, they don’t want to underutilize a player who can make a difference, but on the other, overloading a player who hasn’t had any game experience yet this season is a risk as well.

• Be careful on kick coverage. In Windham’s first win against Gardiner, the game changed early when, after a Tiger touchdown, the Eagles’ Ben Elliott took the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. With two good teams going at it, momentum is big, and the Rams don’t want to give theirs up with a mistake on special teams.

• Keep up the good work on the road. Cony didn’t lose a road game last year, and the Rams have looked good in a pair of wins away from Alumni Field this season. They’ll have a challenge tonight against an Eagles team that is happy to be back home after two straight road games.

“We’ve preached kind of being road warriors the past few years, and last year we were pretty good,” Lippert said. “It’s a mentality of you’ve got a business trip, and you’re going to go down and get it done.”

Three keys for Windham:

• Don’t get caught napping. Few playcallers in the state challenge defenses like Lippert, who loves to dial up trick plays. He had a pair of wide receiver passes ready last week against Lewiston, and both went for six. The Eagles need to remember that each screen, toss or even handoff could be something more.

• Stretch the defense horizontally. Cony’s defense is pretty tough up the middle, and the Rams like to bring pressure up the gut. When Lewiston had success running the ball, it was usually by using its speed on the outside to get around the defense and then down the field. Windham should have some sweeps, tosses or stretch runs ready to try to get around the end and hit the highway outside.

• Take away Adrian Larrabee. The senior has six touchdown receptions in four games, and caught eight passes for 95 yards against Lewiston last week. If Windham can take him away, either through a 1-on-1 matchup or bracket coverage, it can force quarterback Riley Geyer to look away from his primary target and have to go with a second or third look.

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