WINTHROP — Dave St. Hilaire said it best: Charlie’s Field is a special place here.

Such a place has been needed for the Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale football team’s head coach, his players and everyone in this town. Even if a small getaway from the tragedy in Lewiston last week in which three members of the Winthrop community were killed, that getaway was certainly felt on a night the Ramblers played some of their best football of the season in a 43-8 win over Lisbon.

“These guys come out, and this is a sanctuary for them — a place where they can just get together and play football, whether it’s a game, a practice, whatever,” St. Hilaire said. “We have a player who lost an uncle, and we wanted to show him we had 47 players, their coaches and an entire community behind him. That’s how we roll; we’re a family.”

The Ramblers showed it, outpacing the Greyhounds from start to finish in this Class D South quarterfinal showdown. The home team got 141 rushing yards and three touchdowns from Carter Rivers and 133 yards and two touchdowns from Cody Cobb in a dominant ground performance to advance to meet Oak Hill in Saturday’s semifinals.

No. 3 Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale (6-3) scored on just the third play of the game as Braden Branagan hit Ben Porter for a 53-yard pass. After forcing a turnover on downs, the Ramblers went 55 yards on seven plays, stretching the lead to 13-0 on a 1-yard run by Rivers late in the first quarter.

Lisbon’s Jeff Tuplin, left, tries to tackle Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale’s Ben Porter from scoring a touchdown during a Class D South quarterfinal football game Tuesday in Winthrop. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

After a 10-yard run by Cobb midway through the second quarter made it 20-0, sixth-ranked Lisbon (2-7) immediately hit back as Emmett Mooney took the kickoff 89 yards for a score. The Ramblers, though, would restore the three-score lead on a 4-yard Cobb run with 1:10 remaining before halftime.


“We make a great team,” Rivers said of his duo with Cobb. “He’s a great blocker, too. When I’m running, I’ll just go, stretch and hit the outside, and when I see him there, and I know he’s going to hit for me. I know when I can’t go, he’ll go. We’re unstoppable together.”

Rivers scored from 19 yards out midway through the third quarter, after which a Lisbon muff into the end zone resulted in a safety to put the Ramblers up 36-8. A 48-yard score by Rivers with 13 seconds left in the third quarter provided the final points as the game went to running time.

In all, Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale amassed 376 yards to Lisbon’s 140 with 297 of the home team’s yardage coming on the ground. Branagan completed 3 of his 4 pass attempts for 79 yards with Porter catching two of those passes for 60 yards. Avry Jones had two sacks for the Ramblers, who had four total.

“We’re just working together really well right now,” said Rivers, who has officially returned to form for the Ramblers after missing three games in the middle of the season. “We want this; we want this for our seniors to go on a good note. It’s all mentality, and we have the right mentality right now.”

The game, like the field hockey semifinal between Winthrop and Hall-Dale before it, featured a moment of silence before play began and balloons honoring the 18 victims of last week’s shooting placed in the south end zone. Both teams also wore helmet decals with Lewiston’s location on a map of Maine affixed with a heart.

Both teams were hit hard by last Wednesday’s events. Lisbon was the town in which shooting suspect Robert Card’s body was found late Friday night, concluding a manhunt that lasted more than 48 hours. One Winthrop High School student, freshman Aaron Young, was killed in the shooting. 


“It’s been a tough week, but it came down to our community supporting us and us getting behind each other,” Cobb said. “There was a lot of anger, frustration and sadness, but I think there was also a lot of excitement and energy to play. We just focused it all, and it worked out for us.”

The 50-50 raffle at Charlie’s Field raised a total of $1,900 with the winner giving the entire amount to Young’s family. After an announcement of the total raised was made over the public-address system, a generous stranger presented a $100 bill to the table behind the announcer’s booth to make it an even $2,000.

As for the football side of things, Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale has now won five straight games since starting the season 1-3. The last team to beat the Ramblers was the very Oak Hill team they’ll play Saturday, which claimed a 20-12 win in the matchup Sept. 23 in the first football game on the Charlie’s Field turf.

That game will be personal for the Ramblers. Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale led the Raiders 12-0 in that Week 4 matchup before Oak Hill scored three unanswered touchdowns to claim the win. This Ramblers team, though, is a much-improved unit from the one that left that game at the bottom of Class D South.

“We’ve just been getting better and better each week,” St. Hilaire said. “Those first four weeks were some ugly, ugly football, but the guys have worked harder and harder and have really come to understand what it takes to be successful. Being with these kids, it’s a fun time right now.”

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