Cony running back, Elijah Klaiber (10) heads through the Messalonskee High School defensive line during a Set. 24 game at Messalonskee High School in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

When people were coming their Class B predictions, Cony’s B.L. Lippert thought one team in particular wasn’t getting enough attention.

“The sleeper, at least in this neighborhood because they’re not nearby, is Windham,” he said on Aug. 12. “They’re really good. I’ve seen some preseason lists that are just really way off. Windham is definitely a top two or three team in our league.”

If people were sleeping on the Eagles, they’re wide awake now. That happens when a team takes a conference by storm with the top scoring offense and defense as Windham has done, averaging 42 points scored and 6.5 points against per game en route to a 4-0 record and the top spot in Class B North.

“They’ve got great depth, they do just about everything you would ask for from a program,” Lippert said. “It’s a tough task, no doubt about it.”

At the same time, the Rams are sitting at 3-1 having lost only to Class A Scarborough and by only seven points, so Windham coach Matt Perkins knows his team can’t expect to be in for another runaway victory.

“They know how good Cony is, and they know it’s a test,” he said. “It will be probably our toughest test yet. They are well aware of how good they are, for sure.”

Both coaches attributed their teams’ early success to intangible factors beyond Xs and Os. Perkins said the Eagles’ depth has shown itself to be a significant strength in the early going.

Windham quarterback Rob Ledbetter laterals the ball to Max Arbor, not pictured, during Friday’s game in Fairfield. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“We are not just hanging our hat on a couple of guys that carry us,” Perkins said. “We have so many kids that can play and have to play in certain vital situations, and have stood up.”

Lippert pointed to his team’s resilience, as the Rams have withstood injuries to quarterback James Presti, running back Aidan Coulombe and linebacker Isaak Wilson.

“The fact that they’re the No. 1 team is an exciting challenge for this team,” he said. “And with all the injuries too, it helps in a weird way to unify you. Like ‘Hey guys, we’re all in this together,’ ‘next man up’ type of mentality. … There’s a camaraderie around sort of an ‘us against the world’ type thing with these injuries.”

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

When: 1 p.m., Saturday

Where: Veterans Field, Messalonskee

Windham coach Perkins on Cony: “They look very physical to me on film. … When a team jumps out physical on film, they usually are, and maybe more. They get off the ball well, the offensive line and defense, they’ve always run that stack (on defense) and they do a good job with it, they swarm to the ball really well. All things that I want our team to do.”

Cony coach Lippert on Windham: “They’re really balanced offensively, they can run the ball at you pretty consistently. They’ve got a big, physical offensive line, and a couple of different backs that can really find creases and take it to the house, and a really good pass game. They use their tight ends really well in the pass game. … They play a 3-4 defense, they’re really stout against the run, they’ve got athletes on the back end. They never seem to be out of position.”

Three keys for Windham

• Wrap up and bring down. Cony likes to get its offense going with quick passes either over the middle or to the side with screens, and has always been a good team at generating yards after the catch. Against a team that likes to spread the field the way the Rams do, tackling in space becomes even more crucial.

• Force Cony to drive. Cony is playing with a backup quarterback and without its top running back to start the season, which makes it tougher to keep making the plays necessary to sustain drives. If Windham can take away the big play and force the Rams to string together short gains, the odds become favorable to get a stop and keep them off the board.

Messalonskee running back, Giovanni Caccamo (11) is taken down by a host of Cony defenders during a Sept. 24 game at Messalonskee High School in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

• Watch out, especially early. No one likes a trick play more than Lippert. The Cony coach always has something up his sleeve for these big games, especially early in an effort to get a quick lead and early momentum. Don’t get caught napping.

Three keys for Cony

• Win the line of scrimmage. Windham has been able to bully its opponents so far, and will certainly look to be the more physical team Saturday. If the Rams can’t measure up in the trenches, it’ll be a long day.

• Get Ashton Dennett involved. The senior wideout has been a playmaker on a weekly basis for the Rams, with the exception of a rain-soaked win over Messalonskee. The Eagles will likely make it a priority to negate him, so Cony might need to be creative with ways to get the ball in his hands.

• Win the turnover battle. This is the No. 1 scoring offense in the conference, so giving Windham extra chances is an absolute no-no. Winning the turnover battle is critical, and while hanging on to the ball is important, so is capitalizing on chances to end a Windham possession. Dropped interceptions or an inability to jump on fumbles could loom large.

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