The Deering football team is 2-0, which is not surprising. The Rams were 8-3 last season and, as has been well-documented, about a foot away from playing in the Class A state final.

Having played on winning teams, often times the returning players are well-prepared to continue the winning ways. Those who are stepping into starting roles played against last year’s standouts in practice and got toughened up. They’re eager to contribute.

If a team didn’t suffer wholesale graduation losses, chances are it will be pretty strong once again, with the starters it does have returning and those reserves ready to step in.

The Rams are solid with returning players like two-way senior lineman Alex Stilphen, running back/linebacker Nick DiBiase and wide receiver/defensive back Renaldo Lowry.

Two players who have been instrumental in Deering’s start are quarterback Matt Flaherty and running back Trey Thomes.

Both seniors, they’re getting their first significant playing time — Flaherty because he played behind All-State quarterback Jamie Ross last season — and Thomes because he was injured. Flaherty did start at safety last season but is not playing there now because he’s playing quarterback.

Flaherty has shown a strong and accurate arm, while Thomes has exhibited elusive moves and an ability to run between the tackles.

Both rushed for close to 100 yards in Friday night’s 28-20 win over Windham. Flaherty scored two touchdowns and passed for two more. He completed nine of 11 passes for 128 yards.

Once again, the Rams are athletic, fast and tough. Their linemen don’t have the size of some of the other lines in Western Class A, but with a few exceptions they’re rangy with good strength, like Stilphen.

SCOTT THIBEAULT, the senior running back at Scarbor-ough, rushed for 274 yards in the opening game, then followed it up with another impressive performance when he gained 229 yards in a 23-12 loss at Sanford.

Mike Fallon, coach of the Redskins, was certainly impressed.

“The Thibeault kid is a special back,” said Fallon. “You only get a few of those in the league each year. But his balance is tremendous, his vision is tremendous. We had a really hard time with his cutback stuff.”

Sanford won because Scarbor-ough had four turnovers in the first half — losing two fumbles and two interceptions — and because the Redskins have a pretty special back of their own.

While the Red Storm concentrated on stopping Sanford’s Alex Shain, holding him to 86 yards after he rushed for 264 in the opener, Jon Schroder came through with 140 yards and three touchdowns.

“Jon’s a special kid,” said Fallon. “He’s a very, very competitive kid, one of the most competitive kids I’ve coached in a long time.

“They spent so much time trying to bottle up Alex that we needed to go to other weapons. And Jon is one of them. That was huge.”

MASSABESIC’S OFFENSE usually begins with a fake or actual handoff to its fullback, who charges head-first into the line. Usually such an offense relies on a pounding, 200-pound-plus back who can run over defenders.

Massabesic has Sam Chaves.

“He’s probably 150 pounds, soaking wet,” Mustangs Coach John Morin said.

Yet Morin relies on Chaves to keep defenses honest. Massabesic has two breakaway threats in quarterback Jake Desrochers and flanker Casey Nava. But the Mustangs often go to Chaves inside.

He carried the ball 20 times for 73 yards Friday night in Massabesic’s 31-28 win over Bonny Eagle.

Ignore Chaves, and he can break loose. He had seven carries for five or more yards on Friday. Focus on Chaves, and the Mustangs have room on the outside.

“When they bit down on Sam, it really opened up some of the perimeter,” Morin said.

Seventy-three yards rushing may not make the headlines, but Chaves’ fearless runs into the middle of the line made the Mustangs’ victory possible.

BONNY EAGLE had to go without starting running back Nick Adkins because of an ankle injury. But the Scots found another threat in Matt Burnell, who moved from receiver to the backfield.

Burnell gained 146 yards on 10 carries Friday night in a loss to Massabesic. He also caught two passes for 46 yards. And his 58-yard punt return was one of the four touchdowns he scored.

“Guys get hurt, guys have to step in. Matt Burnell was fantastic,” Bonny Eagle Coach Kevin Cooper said. “Too bad, with his type of effort, he had to come out on the losing end.”

WAITING AT THE high school to greet the York football team after a 28-17 loss at Cape Elizabeth on Friday night was sophomore Ross Hogan and his parents. Hogan left the game strapped to a straight-board moments before halftime after a violent collision resulted in what Coach Randy Small described as a severe concussion, and he was taken to Maine Medical Center.

“It was like Christmas morning,” Small said of the reunion. “The kids hugged him, the coaches hugged him.”

Two other York players, senior Jared Petruzzella and sophomore Sean Kelly, were also checked for possible concussions, Small said, but both seem to be OK and, unlike Hogan, are likely to play Friday against visiting Fryeburg Academy.

Capers Coach Aaron Filieo said he spoke with officials at the game, who assured him his players did nothing flagrant.

“I talked to the referees and I saw both hits,” Filieo said. “Emotionally, a couple of the things that were said, it’s tough.”

THE NYA BOYS edged Greely 26-29 in cross country Friday in a meet at Royal River Park in Yarmouth that also included Poland.

“Against their full varsity squad, I can’t remember the last time we’ve beaten Greely,” said NYA Coach Peter Sillin, whose team also knocked off another perennial Western Maine Conference powerhouse, York, in the season opener a week earlier.

NYA’s top six runners are all seniors. Cam Regan won Friday’s 3-mile race in 16 minutes, 44 seconds. Evan Kendall, Alex Coffin and Rudy Guliani placed 4-5-6 within 15 seconds of each other. Brian Trelegan and Grant McPherson took 10th and 11th, respectively.

Greely also placed five runners among the top 10, but putting four runners before Greely’s third runner gave NYA the edge.

Coffin is the only newcomer to the NYA team, having played soccer previously. But he does have experience on the track.

“A lot of our kids live in Cumberland,” Sillin said, “so this was for neighborhood bragging rights, for sure.”

— Staff writers Tom Chard, Mike Lowe, Kevin Thomas and Glenn Jordan contributed to this report