Tuesday, March 11, 2014
AUGUSTA — The Cony football team still feels the sting of losing the Pine Tree Conference Class A championship game to Lawrence last fall.
Staff photo by Joe Phelan Cony running back Reid Shostak, right, avoids a diving tackle by Messalonskee defensive back Jake Dexter during a game on November 8, 2013 at Alumni Field in Augusta.
Staff photo by Joe Phelan Cony wide receiver Tayler Carrier, right, stiff arms a Messalonskee defender during a game on November 8, 2013 at Alumni Field in Augusta.
For Oak Hill, it’s been nearly three decades since it last played for a state championship.
The Rams and Raiders can make some history with victories in their respective conference championship games.
No. 2 Cony (7-2) will play at top-seeded Brunswick (7-2) in the PTC B championship game at 7 tonight at Crimmins Field. No. 2 Oak Hill (8-2) will host No. 4 Dirigo (7-3) in the Western D Campbell Conference championship game Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
“The kids are excited, the school is excited and the community is excited,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said. “We’re looking forward to it. It’s been a long time since the program was in this position.”
Oak Hill is hosting a conference championship game for the first time since 1984.
Cony and Brunswick are meeting in the playoffs for a second consecutive season. They squared off in the PTC A semifinals last season, with Cony grabbing a 22-21 victory.
Now, the PTC B title is up for grabs tonight.
“It’s really a special thing to be back in an Eastern Maine final two years in a row,” Cony standout senior quarterback Ben Lucas said. “We have unfinished business.”
The Rams and Dragons feature high-powered offenses, although they gain yardage through different means.
Cony features one of the most dangerous passing attacks in the state, led by Lucas.
The 6-foot-4 Lucas has completed 174 of 285 passes (61 percent) for 2,670 yards and 33 touchdowns. All are single-season Cony records. Tayler Carrier, Jonathan Saban and John Bennett are the primary targets in the passing attack.
“It’s great for our program to be in an Eastern Maine two years in a row,” Cony coach Robby Vachon said. “We are the only sport playing in the high school right now. The kids are feeling really good. We look forward to playing Brunswick again and getting another shot at them.”
Added Brunswick coach Dan Cooper: “I think we’ll see all the things we’ve seen from Cony. They’ll have those five wide receivers spread out all over the place.”
The teams met in mid-September with Brunswick taking a 54-38 win at Crimmins Field. The game featured plenty of offense but not much else.
Brunswick rolled up a whopping 576 yards of total offense. Alex Bandouveres and Lucas McCue each rushed for 150 yards.
The Dragons raced out to a 30-12 lead at the half before Cony stormed back in the second half. Lucas threw three of his five touchdown passes in the second half before Brunswick cemented the victory with a late scoring drive.
“We threw the ball 58 times that night,” Vachon said. “We threw for 463 yards and five touchdowns, too. They couldn’t stop us and we couldn’t stop them. Hopefully, we can control the run.”
Added Lucas: “We expect another shootout really. Both teams are pretty good offensively. We can throw it around the field and they can really run it. Our (defense) has got better since the last time we played them, though.”
McCue and Bandouveres both suffered from a variety of injuries that limited them throughout the season. Both were healthy against the Rams in September, and both will play tonight.
McCue has rushed for 786 yards and 11 touchdowns on 102 carries. Bandouveres has rushed for 449 yards and eight touchdowns.
Cony knows its fate will rest with a defense that has struggled to contain the run at times this season.
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