It has been two months since the lowest point of the season for the Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale/Kents Hill football team.

Now, going into their next game, the Ramblers are riding higher than they have all season.

The bottom of the valley was a Sept. 16 “home” game against Wells, which was played at Hoch Field in Gardiner as the Ramblers waited for their new turf field to be completed. They lost that game 41-0 — the only one of their three losses that was by more than one score.

“I thought we matched Wells’ physicality defensively, but not on the offensive side of the ball, nor on special teams. Wells is a physical team,” Ramblers coach Dave St. Hilaire said. “The kids know for us to be successful, we have to be physical in every phase of the game and from start to finish.”

That was the start of a two-game losing streak, with the Ramblers falling to Oak Hill 20-12 as they christened the new Charlie’s Field the following week.

Since then, however, the third-seeded Ramblers (7-3) have reeled off six straight wins, including last week’s redemption victory over the Raiders in the Class D South semifinals. They’ll get another chance at revenge Friday when they travel to No. 1 Wells (6-3) for the regional final.


“We have improved in every area,” St. Hilaire said. “Two of the most important improvements have come with our kicking game and improvement in pass coverage. We are far better now in both areas than we were in Week 3. Improving those areas and winning six games in a row has us confident in what we can accomplish.”

Both those improved areas were on display in last week’s 17-14 semifinal win, as Brody Adams made a key interception late and Gabe Robinson kicked the game-winning 30-yard field goal as time expired.

That pass defense will be put to the test again by Wells, which had three touchdown passes from Brooks Fox in the regular season meeting, with Riley Murphy catching two and Connor Whitten the other.

“Wells has always been a very good running team, but Wells now has a quarterback that can throw the deep ball,” St. Hilaire said. “We have to be able to put pressure on him and not let him just stand back there and pick us apart.”

St. Hilaire said running the ball out of the Wing-T formation is still the Warriors’ bread and butter, and the Ramblers can’t let Wells run wild up and down the field.

Winthrop, meanwhile, will need to be able to move the football on offense, especially on first down.


“We have to win first down. We need 4 yards or more on first down, and not have penalties to put us in second- or third-and-long,” St. Hilaire said. “We are not a big passing team, but we’ll need to hit a few to keep Wells from loading up the box versus the run.”

Cody Cobb and Carter Rivers have formed a dynamic running back duo for the Ramblers, and quarterback Braden Branagan has used his legs when needed.

That backfield will need some help from the big guys up front against Wells.

“Wells’ front eight is extremely physical and flows to the ball really well. If we don’t stay on our blocks, it’ll be a long night for us,” St. Hilaire said.

Beating Wells won’t be easy for the Ramblers, but not much has been easy for the team and program this season. That’s part of what has gotten the Ramblers to the regional final, though.

“We have had a ton of adversity this year, and the adversity has been just about every week,” St. Hilaire said. “The kids have been resilient and have made some great strides in not letting things they can’t control affect their performance on the field. We have also come from behind to win three times this season and in each game things looked pretty bleak for us to come back and win.

“The kids have learned how to win and they’re ready to go for Friday.”

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