Skowhegan quarterback Adam Savage stretches across the line for a touchdown as he is tackled by Lawrence’s Parker Higgins (32) during a football game Sept. 2 in Fairfield. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — The Cony football team’s Week 3 opponent is everything B.L. Lippert thought it would be when the schedules came out back in May.

Lippert, Cony’s head coach, was singing Skowhegan’s praises as the team to beat in the Pine Tree Conference back when the schedules were released in May. Now that the games have begun, the River Hawks’ performances have only validated that belief.

“To quote Dennis Green, ‘They are who we thought they were,’” Lippert said. “On film, you can see that they’re big, they’re tough, and they’re really sound defensively. We know we’ve got a big challenge going up there.”

Friday’s game at Skowhegan Area High School is another that will go a long way in determining the hierarchy in Class B North as the regular season’s midway point nears. For the Rams, it’s a chance to prove they belong with the PTC’s elite, and for the River Hawks, it’s an opportunity to show they’re a step above the rest of the league.

Skowhegan opened the year with a 41-21 road win over a Lawrence team that had been picked second in the PTC preseason poll. The River Hawks then scored five touchdowns in the first half en route to a 35-0 win over Brewer last Friday despite missing starting quarterback Adam Savage.

In both games, Skowhegan’s defense smothered its opponents’ vaunted ground attacks. The River Hawks held Fitzpatrick Trophy candidate Parker Higgins to just 51 yards on 11 carries against Lawrence and prevented Brewer’s Jaxon Gross and Cam Hughes from getting any traction in the run game.


“I think the key for us these first two weeks has been to maintain that limited run,” said Skowhegan head coach Ryan Libby. “I think that’s the key for us again this week. If we can stop them and the run game and stop them from making those big plays, we’re going to be golden.”

Cony faced possibly the state’s toughest Week 1 opener as it traveled west to take on Oxford Hills, a state finalist a year ago in Class A, and fell in a 42-6 defeat. The Rams bounced back last week as they returned home and earned a 28-7 victory over Massabesic.


Oxford Hills’ Grayson Foster takes down Cony’s Conner Heidle during a Sept. 2 game at Gouin Athletic Complex in Paris. Brewster Burns photo

The Rams are athletic at the quarterback position with Dom Napolitano and Davyn Flynn splitting time under center. In Napolitano, Cony’s likely starter, Skowhegan will be facing a quarterback with a dimension to his game the River Hawks have yet to see this season.

“They’ll be really the first dual-threat offense we’ve faced this year,” Libby said. “They’ve been able to run the ball and pass the ball successfully, so we’re going to emphasize that good line play up front. We’ve done well in the trenches the first two weeks, so we’re focusing there again.”

For Skowhegan, the quarterback situation is still up in the air. Adam Savage is the starter for the River Hawks when healthy, but he missed the team’s Week 2 game with an ankle injury. Whether Savage or backup Brendan Dunlap plays, Libby said, might come down to a game-time decision.

Even if Savage isn’t able to go Friday night, don’t expect Skowhegan to take much of a step back offensively. Dunlap excelled against Brewer as he threw and ran for two touchdowns each, and Lippert knows his team is in for a battle regardless of which quarterback lines up under center.


“They’ve just got great depth to them,” Lippert said. “This senior class is one we’ve been hearing about since they were in about fifth grade. With their playmakers and then the LePage twins, this is a year they’ve been gearing up for for a long time. You could even argue that they were the most talented team in the league last year.”

A year ago, Cony and Skowhegan opened the season with a showdown that would become one of the games of the year. The Rams trailed the River Hawks 35-21 in the second half before two touchdowns (and a successful 2-point try on the latter) gave Lippert’s team a 36-35 win.

Although Skowhegan was able to take a big lead in that game, a key, Lippert said, was a 21-6 first-half advantage for the Rams that kept the team in the game despite 29 straight points from the River Hawks. Scoring first, he added, will be essential if Cony wants to pull out a tough road win Friday.

Doing so, though, has been tough to do against Skowhegan this season. Scoring first has been something the River Hawks have stressed constantly, and Libby’s team has done that in establishing double-digit leads in the first quarter against both Lawrence and Brewer.

“Having the ability to get up a little bit early and run the ball effectively has been big for us,” Libby said. “Against a team like Cony, you don’t want to get down against them early, so hopefully, we’re able to follow that same script.”

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