Cony’s Conner Heidle avoids a diving tackle by Skowhegan’s Darrin Gilman during a football game Friday in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

OAKLAND — The Messalonskee and Cony football teams both got jolts last Friday — literal ones.

Lightning in the central Maine sky was seemingly the only thing that could stop the Eagles and Rams in their respective Week 2 contests. Messalonskee breezed past Gardiner 35-0 following a delay, and Cony had its 22-0 win over Skowhegan called in the third quarter following more flashes.

“It was pretty disjointed, honestly,” said Cony head coach B.L. Lippert. “We honestly thought we weren’t going to play. When we were warming up, they said, ‘Boy, it doesn’t look good for the rest of the night,’ so we just had to wait it out. Fortunately, we got some of the game in before more lightning, and we came away with a win.”

The electricity will continue this week as Messalonskee hosts Cony in another key Pine Tree Conference showdown. It’s a matchup that pits one of the conference’s mainstays of the past decade or so with an up-and-comer that has impressed in the early going as it looks to bury its recent struggles.

It’s hard to find a program around with more energy right now than Messalonskee (2-0). It’s been a decade since the Eagles have had a winning season, but after a 2-0 start in which his team has outscored opponent 82-8, Blair Doucette knows his players, alma mater and community are buzzing.

“There’s just a lot of excitement, and you’re really seeing that everywhere you go,” said Doucette, Messalonskee’s first-year head coach. “We had a great turnout at Friday’s game. People in the community are always coming up to me and saying, ‘Good luck.’ People are excited about this team.”


And how could they not be with what Messalonskee has done so far. Offensively, quarterback Tatum Doucette has thrown for 508 yards and eight touchdowns to five different players. Running back Sam Dube has gashed opposing defenses on the ground, running for 291 yards and three scores.

Defensively? Good luck throwing on the Eagles. Drake Brunelle has been one of the state’s top defensive backs, recording five interceptions in just two games. With a linebacking corps led by Dawson Dingus (15 tackles) and Mitch Marquis (18 tackles), running on Messalonskee isn’t much easier.

Messalonskee’s Drake Brunelle hauls in a touchdown pass as Gardiner’s Evan Ahearn tries to defend during a Class B North football game Friday night in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“They’ve got a good secondary, for sure,” said Cony quarterback Parker Morin. “For me, I just have to trust in my guys to go out there and make plays and trust in my ability — be able to see the field, see where their guys are at and throw it where they’re not.”

If Messalonskee is able to stop Cony through the air Friday night, doing so won’t come easily. After missing valuable time a year ago, Morin (9 of 17, 110 yards) and receiver Parker Sergent (five catches, 75 yards) got in a groove last week against Skowhegan as they connected for two touchdowns.

“They’re so versatile; they can run, they can pass it vertically, and they’ve got a short, quick game where they can go down the field,” Doucette said. “We know with their speed, they’re going to be a real challenge for us. We have to play sound defensive football and stay disciplined.” 

Neither Falmouth nor Gardiner were able to fully execute offensively against Messalonskee with the Navigators primarily running the ball and the Tigers getting their limited success through the air. Lippert believes in his team’s ability to succeed at both, though he’s not about to stick to one or the other.


“I’m not sure we ever worry about balance; we do whatever helps us move the ball and score,” Lippert said. “We always say the defense dictates whether we throw or run the football, quite literally on RPOs and on how they align. We’ve won plenty of games when we’ve thrown 60 times, and we’ve won plenty when we’ve run 60 times.”

Cony is also plenty capable defensively. The Rams have one of the area’s top linebackers in Tyler Pelletier, and Doucette is wary of the size, speed and physicality his opponents have with Pelletier and defensive lineman Jonny Lettre, who’s currently the Class A state heavyweight wrestling champ.

A win would send Messalonskee to 3-0 for the first time since 2016. That’s also the last time the Eagles defeated Cony. Messalonskee has lost the past five matchups against the Rams by an average of 25 points per game — something of which Doucette’s reminded his team in the buildup to Friday.

“Our goal all along has been to be in every single game, which we’ve done, and a 3-0 start would mean a lot to these kids,” Doucette said. “It’s something we’ve talked about since we haven’t beaten Cony since 2016, but it’s not going to be easy; we need to play a good, clean game.”

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