“Last year’s playoff loss was a tough one to swallow,” Ramblers coach Dave St. Hilaire said.

Now a chance at revenge finally comes for the Ramblers, who host Oak Hill in a Class D South clash Friday night. Both teams enter the contest undefeated (Winthrop/Monmouth 4-0, Oak Hill 3-0) and tied atop the D South standings halfway through the regular season.

The Ramblers played the Raiders close twice last year, losing 28-19 in the regular season and 13-10 in the postseason. Both those games were played on a Saturday in Wales. Now Winthrop/Monmouth gets Oak Hill on a Friday night at Maxwell Field in Winthrop.

St. Hilaire wants every game to be a big game for this year’s team, which has all the pieces to do things that Oak Hill has done recently, but it’s hard for high school football players to not put a little bit more effort into exacting revenge.

Getting said revenge won’t be easy, however. Declarations of the Raiders’ demise have been greatly exaggerated. Despite losing Dalton Therrien, Levi Buteau and others, Oak Hill has still made it through four of its seven regular-season games unscathed.

Matthew Strout has taken over under center, and he has filled Therrien’s shoes with his sheer size and power, as well as his arm strength when asked to throw. Steven Gilbert and Cruz Poirier have split carries at running back, and Darryn Bailey, Ryan Birkbeck, Brian Thorpe and others have also received touches on offense. That’s led to scoring outputs of 38, 26 and 21, and tha Raiders still haven’t found their stride in some games.

“Offensively, Oak Hill executes very well and are a balanced team,” St. Hilaire said. “We need to not give up long plays and make them work for every yard. Matt Strout throws a nice deep ball and he has a few weapons at his disposal with speed and size.”

The Ramblers counter with an equally dangerous offense. Matt Ingram is a three-year starter at QB, and he is throwing the ball to capable top receiver Bennett Brooks, running backs Alec Brown and Nate Scott, and a host of other skill-position players. The Ramblers have scored 31 and 39 points in two of their games, but just 19 and 14 in the other two. Still, they can score points in bunches any given week.

“We need to be able to both run and throw the ball and minimize mistakes to be successful,” St. Hilaire said.

While Winthrop/Monmouth is coming off its best offensive output of the season, scoring 39 points against Old Orchard Beach on the road, the Oak Hill defense has progressively gotten better. The Raiders opened the season giving up 18 points, but have since given up 14 and 0 in their last two games.

There are also pieces remaining from the defense that held the Ramblers to just one touchdown and caused multiple turnovers in last year’s playoff matchup.

Gilbert is one of those returning pieces on defense, and said after shutting out Medomak Valley last week that the defense “got the job done.

“It was all about heart. We all pushed and all did our jobs 100 percent, all day.”

There will be dozens of players in both green and blue playing their hearts out Friday night. A lot is at stake, whether it pertains to the past, present or future.

“The kids have been working hard and we’re improving every week,” St. Hilaire said. “We’ll be ready for (Oak Hill).”

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