Saturday, May 18, 2013
AUGUSTA -- The well-wishers are growing with each day and after each victory. Members of the Cony football team say they can feel a buzz in school hallways and in the community.
Staff photo by Andy Molloy TALKING ABOUT WINNING: Cony Football coach Rob Vachon speaks with his team Tuesday during practice in Augusta. The Rams are 3-1 in and in the midst of their first three-game winning streak since 2007.
"It's awesome," Cony junior quarterback Ben Lucas said. "There is a lot of hype now. People are getting behind us. I hope it keeps up."
Cony (3-1) has often struggled in the Pine Tree Conference's Class A division, but enters Friday's showdown with unbeaten Brunswick (4-0) on a three-game winning streak. It is the first three-game winning streak for Cony, which went 2-7 a year ago, since 2007. The Rams have seemingly transformed from an afterthought to legitimate contender overnight.
The Rams have an easy explanation for the turnaround: They grew tired of losing.
"We were getting it handed to us every single game," Cony senior wide receiver Chandler Shostak said. "It was embarrassing. We had to get serious, and we did."
There are, of course, more tangible reasons why the Rams are in prime position to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
The offensive line is in its second year together. Players finally took advantage of an offseason weight lifting program, something coach Robby Vachon pushed for years. The defense got tougher, and Lucas emerged as one of the premier quarterbacks in the conference.
Put it all together, and Cony is a winner again.
"We get more confident each week we play," said Vachon, whose team is 25-59 in the last 10 seasons. "We played a lot of young kids last year and the experiences they gained were invaluable. Coupled with our offseason conditioning, we just got better."
Added Lucas, who leads the conference with 1,018 passing yards and 13 touchdowns: "I think it's surprising to some, but not really to us. I knew we were capable of doing this. I knew we could have a season like this. We had a great offseason, and it's carried over."
The offense also benefited from a pair of seven-on-seven camps it participated in during the summer.
Vachon took a group to Leavitt as well as a league in the Portland area to help fine-tune the team's productive spread offense.
"Ben is a lot more confident in the pocket," right guard Alex Boucher said. "We can see it. He's improved so much. He's poised back there and is doing the job."
The offensive line -- left tackle Kyle Elvin, left guard Nicholas Benner, center Isaac Gingras, Boucher, right tackle Wes Benner -- are either juniors or seniors.
The unit has held up against some strong defenses, giving Lucas ample protection. The line also opened up a ground game, led by Brandon St. Michel, that is something the Rams needed for Lucas to be effective.
"This has been building up," St. Michel said. "Last year we were a little young but we aren't anymore. We got into the weight room. We got bigger, stronger. I know I feel a lot more confident in the offense. We just committed ourselves this season."
The defense is also vastly improved.
A weakness on last season's team, the defense is allowing 19.3 points a game. The Rams allowed about 35 points a game last season.
"The defense has been huge for us," said Shostak, who plays defensive back. "The defense last year, we didn't do too well. We've had a lot of people step up. Ben is a lot more productive for us. We have enough weapons on offense. We're not a secret anymore, but we feel good about ourselves. Hopefully, we can keep it going."
Bill Stewart -- 621-5640