Materials and equipment are staged during a turf field project at the football field at Cony High School on Monday in Augusta. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

There’s a finish line in sight for both of the area’s turf field projects.

Both Cony and Gardiner high schools are planning on having their fields ready by the end of the fall season. Cony has the turf and is preparing to install it, athletic director Jon Millett said, with a plan in place to host Lawrence at Fuller Field on Oct. 16.

Gardiner, which had been dealing with lengthy delays to putting in its own surface at Hoch Field, released a memo from superintendent Pat Hopkins and school board chair Becky Fles on Friday that said that the field should be finished by “early November, barring any unforeseen supply or delivery delays.”

The memo acknowledged that the company initially selected to provide and put in the field wasn’t able to do so, causing the delays in a project that the school initially hoped would be finished by the start of the fall.

Gardiner athletic director Nate Stubbert said FieldTurf, which also built Cony’s and Mt. Ararat’s field, took over the project. Stubbert, who spearheaded the effort to bring a turf field to the school, said it was a relief to know the project was nearing completion.

Workers unload materials during a turf field project at the football field at Cony High School on Monday in Augusta. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“I’ll just be happy when this whole thing is over, and we have our own field and it’s something that the kids will be proud of,” he said. “To finally see it come to fruition, I’ll be elated when that day comes and I see our black and orange on the field for the first time. It’ll be well worth it.”

Stubbert said “it’s a hope” Gardiner could host a game before the season ends, but added that it’s a long shot. Football coach Pat Munzing said he’s looking forward to getting his team on the surface, whenever that happens to be.

“There’s no other field that’s as good as Hoch Field when it comes to high school football,” he said. “It’s such a relief to know that, ‘OK, so here we go again, now we’re back in, we’ve got some dates.’ We’re excited. I’ll probably go down and sleep on the thing when it’s finally in there.”

Cony, Millett said, is planning on having field funder Robert G. Fuller Jr., a Maryland resident, on site for the Oct. 16 game.

“The field’s ready for the turf, the turf’s here, they’re laying stuff out in preparation to put it down,” Millett said. “The great thing is we’re watching progress every day, which is really exciting.”

Cony coach B.L. Lippert said the anticipation hasn’t been easy.

“It’s been a challenge. As much as playing games there, I can’t wait to practice there,” he said. “It’s not a fun afternoon of practice if it’s raining on a field that doesn’t really hold water very well.”

The game will be Cony’s senior night, which Lippert said is fitting.

“Going on the road for every game has not been the easiest thing. I’m sure when you’re a senior, you’d like to play in front of your home crowd and on the field you grew up watching people play on,” he said. “Even though Messo (Messalonskee High School in Oakland) is not far away and it’s a great facility and a great host to us, it’s not the same as playing at home.”

 

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Lippert looked at the positives from Cony’s last game, a 21-14 loss to Class A Scarborough in which the Rams tried to fight back from a 21-0 deficit.

“We didn’t play very well, honestly. It should have been 0-0 at the half, we gave up a late touchdown and then they got it to 21-0 on a punt return, and it kind of felt like ‘All right, well, this wasn’t going to be our night,'” he said. “But we rallied, cut it to 21-14 and had the ball with a minute to go and a chance to maybe tie it or take the lead. We just couldn’t mount a drive, but we showed some of our resiliency.”

Cony had to deal with injury issues, as linebacker Isaak Wilson left with what Lippert suspected was an ACL tear and linebacker Logan Tyler hurt his back.

“We had many kids in there that haven’t played at all yet (on) varsity,” Lippert said. “Because of the circumstances we faced, we had them in there, and they’re going to have to play more. It’s been an exercise in learning on the fly.”

 

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Fryeburg defensive back Liam Quinn (11) nearly picks off a pass intended for Kayden Weston (11) during a football game Saturday in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

 

A couple of games this weekend showed the value of special teams.

Wells was excellent in the kicking game in its 49-13 win over Winslow, as kicker Michael Lewinski went 7-for-7 on extra points and he and Brady Fazzina boomed kickoffs and punts, respectively, that had the Black Raiders continuously facing long fields.

“It’s a weapon. We’ve always said that. When you can get a good kicker and a good punter, it’s a giant weapon,” Wells coach Tim Roche said. “When he can put the ball in the end zone, like Michael does sometimes, they’re going to get the ball on the 20-yard line. And that’s not easy for high school teams. You’re used to driving 65, 70 yards. Now all of a sudden it’s 80 yards. That’s a whole new game.”

Fryeburg won a battle with Gardiner 24-6, and was able to tilt field position in its favor thanks to 46- and 44-yard punt returns from Caleb Micklon. Meanwhile, a 10-yard punt by the Tigers in the fourth quarter set the Raiders up at the Gardiner 18 for a scoring drive that made it a two-score game at 16-6.

“Our special teams played, I thought, great tonight,” Fryeburg coach David Turner said. “Not only on punt returns, but on coverage. We flipped field position on punt returns, we flipped field position on kickoffs and we pinned them deep on the kickoffs. … When you’re playing good defense and you can pin teams down and not give up big plays, it makes them drive the field. I think that was the issue tonight.”

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