WINTHROP — Winthrop/Monmouth football is serious about its adoption of the Wing-T.

After a transitional season that improved from a four-game losing streak to its conclusion, a playoff loss at Old Orchard Beach, the Ramblers decided to step up their game by joining some of the best practitioners of the time-tested offense in New England.

A group of 16 ventured to Coach John Rotsko’s overnight camp at Marshwood in Berwick. Among the other teams represented: The Hawks, reigning Class B state champions, and Concord-Carlisle of Massachusetts.

As he observed and probably even learned a few new wrinkles himself, Winthrop/Monmouth coach Dave St. Hilaire had a revelation while watching junior Matt Ingram direct the Ramblers.

“He was the best quarterback there,” St. Hilaire said.

That, alone, would be enough to make the Ramblers one of the favorites in Class D South. But with two of the Ramblers’ top backs, one of their leading receivers and four starting offensive linemen also back in the fray, Winthrop/Monmouth could return to the form of its undefeated regular season in 2013.


There are certainly different expectations than a year ago, when St. Hilaire accepted the job the week before the start of training camp and quickly installed the offense he’d favored as middle school coach.

“Getting all the kids that hadn’t run it before to get it down (was a challenge),” Ingram said. “The freshmen and sophomores had all run it before, but the juniors and seniors hadn’t, so they had to get used to that.”

Ingram’s comfort level grew by leaps and bounds as a sophomore.

The Ramblers concluded the regular schedule with four consecutive wins, including an exhibition, and erupted for more than 400 yards of total offense to throw a scare into OOB.

From there, the quarterback stepped up his offseason game, attending a passing camp run by former Canadian Football League QB Quinton Porter of Portland.

“At some times last year it was the deer in the headlights. The Dirigo game (Week 3) last year is when he started to make decisions and run with the ball for first downs,” St. Hilaire said. “His throwing motion has changed. He’s at the top of his class. He’s so comfortable. He has great footwork.”


Stir those ingredients together and it’s easy to see why this won’t be your grandfather’s Wing-T. Junior split end Bennett Brooks caught seven touchdowns from Ingram a year ago.

“We’ve got some weapons, and we’ll try to get the ball into their hands this year. It’s not going to be grind-it-out,” St. Hilaire said.

Winthrop/Monmouth could go in that direction, if it had to.

Running backs Alec Brown and Dustin Tripp each averaged more than five yards per carry. Brendon Dunn, Hunter Hamlin, Jack Vickerson and Josh Ward all return up front.

Dunn, the center, also gained a wealth of confidence from the Marshwood camp.

“Everything they do is very similar to us,” Dunn said. “It’s a little different terminology, but it helped a lot, because it was working with guys who have been doing it for a long time.”


The line’s learning curve is every bit as steep in the still-developing offense, and perhaps even more complex.

“It’s a lot more pulling with the guards and stuff,” Dunn said. “It was difficult to learn, but once you get the hang of it, it works well. It’s just working out the kinks. It’s coming together nicely.”

Winthrop/Monmouth coaches and players use everything at their disposal to fine-tune the particulars.

“They’re getting it. We’re slowing it down,” St. Hilaire said. “We’re working against barrels to show them the rules. We’re giving them homework assignments: Here are the plays, here are your rules, now you connect the dots.”

Only three seniors graduated from the starting offense, so Ingram has a year under his belt with almost everyone.

The Ramblers got the equivalent of at least that much time together during their ambitious summer.


“It was a lot of repetition,” Ingram said. “I think it’s going to help us a lot, because we’re all confident. We’re all powerful. We’re all fast.”

Once again, the toughest games come early for the Ramblers.

They open with Lisbon at home. Two weeks later begins a three-game gauntlet of Dirigo, Maranacook and Oak Hill.

“We’ve got great kids with the right mindset,” St. Hilaire said. “We’re more comfortable with the offense this year. We’re faster. We’re quicker.”

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