It was perhaps the most memorable play from the Cony football team’s victory over Gardiner in the latest chapter of the teams’ long-running rivalry. And it involved a bit of a gamble.

With time ticking away early in the fourth quarter, Cony ahead only 7-6 and Gardiner believing more and more in their chances of pulling off the upset, Rams coach B.L. Lippert rolled the dice. With Cony inside the red zone, he moved quarterback Riley Geyer to receiver and let wideout Dakota Andow, without any time to warm up, take over at quarterback.

The reasoning from Lippert’s perspective was simple: Let one of the team’s best athletes make a play.

“If he played receiver, he’d be one of the better ones in the league, probably,” he said of Geyer. “A long time ago, somebody pretty smart told me ‘In big moments, think players, not plays.’ … Think of your best player, and try to get him the ball.”

It took three tries, but the third one clicked. Geyer made a 26-yard catch on a 3rd-and-26 throw down the left sideline from Andow, setting up 4th-and-inches from the 3. Geyer returned to quarterback to pick up the first down with a 2-yard run, then dove into the end zone on the next play for the score that made it 15-6 and crippled the Tigers’ chances.

It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, but not an improvised play design.

“In 7-on-7, we did that too,” Geyer said. “At the beginning of sophomore year, I started at receiver, and then me and Dakota kind of switched.”

“We hadn’t practiced it all week. We practiced it the Windham week,” Lippert said. “In that long-yardage situation, we went to Riley and he made a big play.”

On the first play, Andow rolled right away from Geyer’s side, and a holding penalty moved the ball back from the 19 to the 29. On the second, Andow threw to Geyer, but Wyatt Chadwick made a play to knock the ball away.

On the next try, however, Geyer won the battle.

“Third try’s a charm, I guess,” he said. “Dakota threw a good ball on that one.”

 

• • •

 

No one in Class D South, and few teams across the state, have been hotter than Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale. The Ramblers have won seven straight games, scoring an average of 45.4 points per game in that stretch, and raced to the No. 1 seed for the region.

That seed, however, comes with a bye. Which means a team on a roll now has to sit and wait two weeks to play another game.

Coach Dave St. Hilaire, however, isn’t worried about rust setting in.

“We actually get pretty crisp in practices,” he said. “I’m not worried about the bye at all.”

He acknowledged, however, that it’s a change of pace from the normal rhythm of preparing for a specific team.

“It certainly feels different. It’s been a different weekend, not having to break down film of the opponent,” he said. “We can take and look at our film and clean up some staff. … We’ve got a couple of other wrinkles that we’ve been working on the last couple of weeks that we’ll break out during playoffs.”

Even at 7-1, St. Hilaire said there are some areas that can be tidied up before the Ramblers take the field again.

“We got a little mixed up on a couple of the kickoffs (last week against Spruce Mountain) and had too many guys on one side of the ball. We were fortunate that they didn’t break that one,” he said. “Offensively, they exposed us a little bit with our blocking up front. We’re going to look to clean some of that stuff up.”

 

• • •

 

Few teams helped themselves more last Friday than Skowhegan did.

Sitting in seventh place in Class B North going into the final week, Skowhegan was staring at a potential matchup with either Brunswick, to whom it lost 48-7, or Cony, which won the regular-season matchup 35-7. Instead, with a 51-34 win over then-No. 6 Mt. Blue, Skowhegan leap-frogged the Cougars into the fifth spot and a showdown with No. 4 Windham (4-4).

Coach Ryan Libby acknowledged that the Eagles are likely a better matchup for his group out of the playoff gate than either the Dragons or Rams would have been.

“On paper, it helps. Theoretically, playing (the No.) 4 versus playing the 2 is a better matchup,” he said. “But we were looking forward to just being in the playoffs and making sure we were ready to go against anybody. Windham I think is a decent matchup for us. … They’re really run-heavy, which is what our defense has done really well the last few weeks of stopping.”

Libby focused more on the victory Friday, which involved Skowhegan rallying from a 28-17 hole at halftime.

“On Friday night, the kids were definitely through the roof,” he said. “And they earned it. They played hungry all night long. We were down 21-3 at one point and they just were unfazed.”

The win gave Skowhegan a long-awaited win over a winning team and playoff contender. Libby’s group had played some quality teams tough, most notably Lawrence in a 35-28 loss, but they had all resulted in close calls, while all the wins were over teams at the bottom of the standings.

On Friday, however, Skowhegan finished the job.

“We really needed that win against a team that has also won, just to show each other that we could do it,” Libby said. “We all kind of believed it. … We just needed to see it happen.”

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