Boston High School: Cheverus

Maine statewide football preview

September, 4, 2013
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The football landscape has changed with the addition of a fourth class and reorganization everywhere. Here's a look at the top contenders in each class in 2013:

Class A East
MaineAsk anyone outside of Lawrence Bulldog territory, and that person would probably tell you the two best teams in Maine high school football last year were Thornton and Cheverus. This year, under the new alignment, they have the chance to meet in the Class A state final.

Cheverus was undefeated last fall until losing to Thornton, 20-13, in the regional final. The Stags graduated Fitzpatrick Trophy-winning running back Donald Goodrich and quarterback Liam Fitzpatrick, but should keep rolling. The top returning runner is Cody O'Brien (76 carries, 400 yards, 5 TD), and he's backed by Joe Fitzpatrick and Will Hilton, and new quarterback Ethan Jordan. Kicker Patrick Mourmouras booted 48 extra points as a sophomore a year ago.

Offense will be a key for Portland, which scored a total of 13 points in four losses last fall. The Bulldogs may be able to solve that problem themselves, as they bring back Justin Zukowski (180 carries, 991 yards, 11 TD), Jayvon Pitts-Young (79 carries, 472 yards, 3 TD) and quarterback Ryan Ruhlin. Another one to watch is Ronald Hargrove, a transfer from Concord-Carlisle Regional in Massachusetts.

Bangor will be an interesting case this season. The Rams had the burden of high expectations every year – partly because of their history, and partly because of a school size that theoretically gave Bangor a much deeper pool of players than its opponents.

Those expectations were blasted away last year by a 30-point loss to Lawrence and a 34-point loss to Cony. Football is still a big deal in Bangor – the Bangor Daily News wrote a preview story on the Lawrence-Bangor preseason meeting, then covered the game (a 13-6 Lawrence win) as well – but how will the Rams fare against the bigger southern Maine schools?

In an interesting subplot, Xavier Lewis is back at Bangor. Lewis played for Bangor before helping Lawrence to the state final in football and the regional final in basketball during the past academic year.

Windham and Deering look to bounce back from graduation losses, while Edward Little, Lewiston, and Oxford Hills look to improve.

Class A West
Thornton went with a 1-2 punch last fall of Andrew Libby (151 carries, 1,008 yards) and Nick Kenney (164 carries, 940 yards). With Kenney graduated, Libby could easily get in the neighborhood of 25-30 carries per game, and none of Thornton's opponents are excited about that. On the down side, quarterback Eric Christense (973 yards passing, 402 rushing) has graduated, and the Golden Trojans didn't have shutdown defense even last year, when all but two of their opponents scored at least two touchdowns. Still, Libby and Cody Lynn are stalwarts on defense, and if Thornton averages 38.7 points per game again, a couple touchdowns the other way won't matter.

Scarborough didn't play Cheverus last year, but looked pretty good against every other team on its schedule save Thornton. The Red Storm lost 35-7 to Thornton in the regular season and 49-14 in the playoffs. Scarborough brings back Dan LeClair (69 carries, 353 yards, 5 TD) and running/receiving threat Charlie Raybine.

Bonny Eagle could make a leap from last year's 2-6 record. The Scots opponents had a combined record of 43-21, but they still never lost a game by more than 17 points. Now they've added running back Jon Woods as a transfer from Gorham, along with some experienced talent like Zach Dubiel and Joe Bissonette. You can make an argument that Bonny Eagle's season might have turned out much differently if the Scots hadn't been plagued by bad snaps and turnovers in an early-season loss to Thornton last year. This season might show what Bonny Eagle is capable of.

Sanford had one of the best backs in the state last season in Alex Shain (201 carries, 1,426 yards, 27 TD), but the Redskins still scored a total of 32 points in their four losses, including a 42-16 first-round playoff setback to Scarborough. If Josh Schroder (86 carries, 457 yards, 6 TD) and new quarterback Chase Eldredge can't find a way to score against the top teams, a defense led by linebacker Colby Perigo may spend too much time on the field.

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: Maine

May, 8, 2013
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Waterville senior Bethanie Brown is coming off a winter season where she posted new state records in the mile and 2-mile. She was also state champion in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 last spring. She also found time to be a state finalist in the Poetry Out Loud competition and blog for a high school running website, and she recently won the 2013 Maine Principals' Association Award, which takes into account a student's academic excellence, outstanding school citizenship, and leadership.

MaineBrown will be running for the University of Connecticut this fall. She recently took time to answer some questions about UConn and her high school career.

Q: What made you decide on the University of Connecticut?

A: "It was a number of things. Overall, out of all of the colleges that I looked at, it seemed to be the best fit for me. Recruiting junior year and especially last summer and fall was a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I got multiple calls every week last summer, and got to talk to a lot of coaches about their college, the team, and their coaching style. I finally narrowed it down to my top five, and those were the ones I took official visits to. After visiting each one and thinking about all the pros and cons of each school, I felt like UConn was the best fit. The University is big, so I’ll have lots of options open for majors, which is important since I’m sort of undecided. I really like the coach, and I feel like her coaching style will work well with my personality. I met the team and really liked them, and I also know some people in Connecticut so it won’t be as nerve-wracking to live there without my parents."

Q: You mentioned in one of your blogs about running laps and seeing the same neighbors walking their dogs five times. Obviously, there's some drudgery in running. What kinds of things do you do to stay motivated?

A: "Yes, I tend to joke about that. Since one loop of my neighborhood is 0.9 miles, it’s kind of like a giant track! It’s fun to see all my neighbors when I’m out running. We’ll say hello and even chat sometimes when I finish my run. It’s nice to have neighborhood support. Obviously, running loops can get boring at times, so when I feel bored I switch it up and run other routes. But, as a track person, I like running in circles! During the track season I usually run near the high school instead of in my neighborhood, so that gives my running a little bit of variety.

"In terms of staying motivated, it’s not that hard because I like to run. There are days when I’m tired, and maybe not as anxious for my run as on other days, but I know the importance of continuity in training, and so I just do it. But I usually look forward to racing and going to practice, because running is something that I genuinely enjoy."

Q: You and the Waterville girls have had such an incredible run during your high school years. Do you find yourself thinking a lot about how your high school career is almost over?

A: "I don’t think it’s really hit me yet that this is actually my last high school track season. It feels so normal to be a part of the Waterville track team! It has been an incredibly exciting experience to go into each year aiming for a state title as a team. It creates a supportive, focused atmosphere, because each person knows that they need their teammates to do their best in order to win. As a freshman, I was intimidated by the team of older kids who were so good at their events, and so knowledgeable and serious about track. I remember being nervous to compete, but really enjoying being a part of such a successful team. Now, I guess I’m the older, serious track athlete. It feels strange to think I won’t be there next year to help out the team. I will miss it so much, even though I’m excited for next year too. It’s been so fun."

Q: Ian Wilson is regarded as one of the best coaches in the state. What makes him so good at what he does?

A: "He’s really serious about track, and he devotes a lot of time to the team. He studies and continually learns more about the sport, so even though he never ran track, he is really good at helping his athletes to have good mechanics. He can look at someone who has never run track before, and know what they will be good at. He has made a lot of individual state champions, and, well, the team championships speak for themselves. It might seem like Waterville has a lot of talent, but really, it’s that kids who have just as much talent as any other kids in any other school are spending 6 days a week at track practice, running and doing strength work, and working really hard to improve.

"Every meet, he emphasizes the importance of getting better each week. He plans tough, demanding workouts for his team, and the team toughs it out because they respect him and are motivated by him and his goals for the team. Not only is he good at the training side of track, he is also really good at the psychology of it too. He tells motivating stories, puts motivational quotes on the practice plan every day, and knows how to make his team feel confident in their abilities. He has a good sense of what motivates certain individuals, and what helps them specifically to do well.

"As a freshman, I was a little scared of him, I will admit. Scared because he seems very intimidating. In reality, he knows what he’s doing, and isn’t actually as scary as I thought he wasthat is, as long as you stay clean from drugs and alcohol, wear practice uniforms, never miss practice without permission, and give 110% effort in practice and at meets. He’s the coach you’ll hear bellowing from the sidelines at track meets. Trust me, it’s like magic. When he yells, you do go faster. Even if you feel like you’re giving your all, you just find another gear. It’s sort of like a lion’s chasing youbut instead it’s Wilson yelling at you. Overall, he’s just a really experienced, knowledgeable, motivating coach. I feel very lucky to have been able to work with him."

Q: Bill Stewart wrote a column in the Morning Sentinel, urging people to go watch you run so they could see greatness. What were some of the reactions you had when you read that column? Did your teammates kid you about it?

"My parents told me about it and read me some quotes from the article, because they really liked it, but they didn’t have me read it. They are saving it for me to read at the end of the season. They don’t want to put too much pressure on me. I’ve gotten a lot of comments from members of the community who saw the article and thought it was very nice, so I’m excited to read it. A parent of one of my friends told me that he liked seeing that article because he had been telling people at work for a while that they should come and watch me run."

Q: Alex Jenson is such a key part of your team, and she's out for the season with an injury. What's it like to watch a teammate go through that?

A: "It’s really hard because I know it must be so frustrating for her to watch other people compete, and not be able to. It’s her senior year, and she has loved being coached by Wilson, and has been such a key part of our team even since freshman year. I live near her, and so we have been friends since she moved to Waterville in fourth grade and we rode the bus together. I’ve always been impressed with her talent and work ethic, and I know that she’ll find a way to stay positive through this disappointment because she’s really tough."

Q: What kind of goals do you have for this season?

A: "My goal is to improve! It sounds so simple, but it can be difficult to keep finding ways to improve yourself. And when you finally get a PR, it feels so good! It’s a feeling of accomplishment to know that you just ran faster than you have ever run before. This season, I started off with a lifetime PR in the 3200 (two-mile) of 10:22, and so I’d be thrilled to improve that time. In my races I have to run at the front a lot, which is different than running with a pack of girls, and can be hard to do sometimes. So, another goal is to just be really focused and tough even when I’m just racing the clock."

NEW INDUCTEES FOR MAINE SPORTS HALL OF FAME

The Maine Sports Hall of Fame inducted 10 new members at its annual banquet May 5 at the Augusta Civic Center. Included on that list are four people who are inducted based on their contributions to Maine high school sports:

- Skowhegan field hockey coach Paula Doughty, who has won 438 career games and 14 Class A state championships. Doughty has twice won the National Coach of the Year award, and her teams have won 11 of the last 12 Class A state titles.

-Cony girls basketball coach Paul Vachon. Now the athletic director at Cony, Vachon compiled a 451-40 record while coaching the Rams. He won 11 regional and seven Class A state championships.

-Football coach John Wolfgram, who has won a total of 10 state championships at four different high schools. Wolfgram's Cheverus team won 34 consecutive games from 2010 to 2012. That broke the previous state record of 31, set by Wolfgram's South Portland team from 1995 to 1997.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

With spring season under way, here are eight athletes you should know about. This isn’t meant to be a list of the best athletes in their sports, but it is clear that all of them can be expected to be at the top of their game this season:

Ryan Rebar, Foxcroft baseball: An outstanding three-sport athlete, baseball is Rebar’s best sport. He’s a pitcher and shortstop. “A sign of a top notch pitcher is the ability to put up great numbers even when he does not have his best stuff,” says Marc Calnan of Examiner.com. “Ryan Rebar does that. I have covered many games that Rebar has pitched between high school and American Legion in the last four years. I have not seen any situation overwhelm him. As a shortstop, he is as smooth as anyone in any class.”

Sonja Morse, Cony softball: Softball is still a game dominated by talented pitchers, and Morse carried Cony to the state title last year and could do so again this spring. Morse went 13-0 with 0.50 ERA last season, with 146 strikeouts in 87 innings. At the plate, she hit .479 and drove in 30 runs in 22 games. In the state final against South Portland, Morse retired the first 20 batters before losing her perfect game on a two-out single in the seventh of Cony’s 2-0 victory.

Patrick Ordway, Waynflete tennis: Ordway won the state singles title as a sophomore, and seemed poised to do it again last spring. He was the No. 1 seed and breezed into the semifinals, losing a total of five games in his first three matches. But in the semis, Ordway was stunned by fifth-seeded Jordan Friedland of Lincoln Academy, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4. Friedland went on to win the state title, and is back as a senior to defend his title. Their teams don’t meet in the regular season and can’t meet in the playoffs, but if Ordway and Friedland meet in the state singles tournament, it will be a fun match to watch.

Maisie Silverman, Brunswick tennis: Silverman was the state singles runner-up as a freshman in 2011, and took the title last year as a sophomore, defeating Falmouth senior Annie Criscione, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Silverman was also tested in the tournament by Waterville’s Colleen O’Donnell and Falmouth’s Olivia Leavitt, both of whom are back this year. Brunswick is also out to defend its team Class A state title.

Nicco DeLorenzo, Kennebunk lacrosse: The name rolls off the tongue, but he’s more than just a name. According to a preseason feature article in the Portland Press Herald, DeLorenzo, a junior at Kennebunk, has already verbally committed to play at Colgate. DeLorenzo had 120 ground balls last season, and is a presence as a long-stick midfielder.

Lauren Steidl, Cape Elizabeth lacrosse: Steidl is coming off a season in which she scored 58 goals and dished out 26 assists as the Capers reached the Western B championship game. Steidl will play for Princeton next year. She’s actually one of two 50-goal scorers on the Cape Elizabeth roster. Talley Perkins, who will play at Boston University next season, had 50 goals last year.

Alex Shain, Sanford track and field: Shain was a Fitzpatrick Trophy finalist after rushing for 1,400 yards and scoring 28 touchdowns for the Sanford football team this fall. He does the running thing pretty well in the spring, too. Shain is the defending Class A state champion in the 100 (11.33 seconds) and the triple jump (42 feet, 6.75 inches). He was also part of the school’s state champion 4x100 relay team, and placed fifth in the long jump (20 feet, 0.25 inches).

Bethanie Brown, Waterville track and field: Brown has one of the best résumés of any runner around. Last spring, she won the Class A state title in the 1,600 (4 minutes, 55.23 seconds) and 3,200 (10:34.79) then went out and won both of those events at the New England championships. She also helped Waterville’s 4x400 relay team win the state title. The winter, she set Class B state indoor record in the mile and 2-mile. Brown is headed to the University of Connecticut this fall. In a preseason column, the Morning Sentinel’s Bill Stewart wrote, “As you fill the calendars with what you hope to see this spring, particularly when the weather pleasantly warms, do yourself a favor and go see Waterville senior Bethanie Brown run. Do it. You won’t be disappointed.”

New England Roundup: Maine

April, 1, 2013
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The middle of a recent school board meeting turned into a gripe session about the Winslow athletic director.

MaineIn early March, Travis Lazarczyk of the Morning Sentinel wrote a column about the situation of Johnny Lagasse, a sophomore wrestler at Winslow, who was seeded second in his class but did not compete at the regional or state meets. According to Lazarczyk's column, Lagasse was reported as failing an English class taught by Mark Pelletier, which would have made Lagasse ineligible to compete.

“Johnny emailed his English teacher, Mark Pelletier,” Lazarczyk wrote. “On Friday afternoon, Pelletier double-checked the grade. Pelletier said he found a calculation error that caused not just Lagasse, but the entire class, to receive a failing grade.”

When wrestling coach Kevin Fredette was not notified in time, Lagasse was ineligible for regionals, which made him ineligible for states. Lazarczyk wrote that because the school had an in-service day, Lagasse could not go directly to athletic director Carrie Larrabee to fix the mistake.

“Even so, Larrabee and Pelletier were both at Winslow High School that day,” Lazarczyk wrote. “After hearing from the Lagasse family, Larrabee could have gone to Pelletier's classroom to double check the grade.”

The last year has been tumultuous for Winslow athletics. Last spring, girls basketball coach Tom Nadeau resigned suddenly after compiling a 76-40 record over six seasons.

“Maybe, under different circumstances, I might not have stepped down,” Nadeau told the Sentinel. “Without getting into a lot of detail, I think there comes a time when one knows it's time to move on, and I think that time has come for me.”

Just two weeks later, Winslow softball coach Steve Blood resigned in preseason. Blood had won three state titles over three different coaching stints. In an interview with the Sentinel, Blood cited numerous complaints, including the administration not doing enough to field a junior varsity team that spring. Blood also said the school rarely had buses ready on time for road games, and that he felt compelled to mow the outfield himself three times the previous season.

On the other hand, Larrabee's recent hires have been well-received. She hired Lindsey Welch to replace Nadeau, and Welch was named Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B Coach of the Year. Jared Browne led Winslow to the Eastern B tournament this season, and new softball coach Steve Bodge, who stepped in just before preseason, is a well-liked coach with experience.

This winter, boys’ hockey assistant coach Andrew Cyr was removed from his job for reasons that have not been made public. Cyr's supporter's started an online petition, and the page “Save Mr. Cyr” on Facebook has nearly 800 “likes” (Winslow High School currently has less than 500 students).

A post on the page asked Cyr's supporters to come to a Winslow school board meeting in late March. More than an hour into the meeting, the board members tried to go into executive session to discuss another matter. A few dozen people who had come to support Cyr began yelling that they needed to be heard. When Superintendent Eric Haley and a board member explained that they couldn't discuss Cyr because he wasn't present and hadn't asked for a discussion, the crowd turned on Larrabee, who was at the meeting.

Residents brought up the Johnny Lagasse situation, and Haley apologized for it. As residents criticized Larrabee, saying among other things that the school should investigate whether she is pulling her weight, Haley did not show any signs of agreeing with the residents or defending Larrabee, who was in the audience.

BANGOR'S SANDERSON WINS TRAVIS ROY AWARD
Bangor forward Parker Sanderson won the Travis Roy Award, given annually to the top Class A senior player in the state. Sanderson had 25 goals and 26 assists this season, leading the Rams to the Eastern A final.

Sanderson is the first Bangor player to win the award since it was instituted in 1996. The other finalists were Scarborough's Nick Bagley, Grant Carrier of St. Dominic, and Cam McLain of Cheverus.

The best line of the day came from Carrier, a goalie at St. Dom's. The Lewiston Sun Journal reported that Carrier, in thanking his parents during his speech, said, “For those who don't know, St. Dom's tuition is not chump change, no matter who you are, and a set of new goalie equipment can be equal to the price of a used car.”

DOUBLE DUTY FOR MESSALONSKEE COACH
Tom Sheridan is preparing for another season as the Messalonskee boys' lacrosse coach. That's not unusual – he's in his 19th year. What is unusual is that he's also coaching the University of Maine at Farmington men's lacrosse team, which began its regular season two weeks before Messalonskee's first practice of the spring.

Sheridan is officially UMF's interim coach. He said there was one conflict where he would have had to be at two games at the same time, but that UMF changed that game.

“That's my life,” Sheridan joked to the Morning Sentinel. “I'm a three-season coach. Now I coach four teams.”

New England Roundup: Maine

February, 1, 2013
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Rangeley girls basketball coach Heidi Deery said of Doug Lisherness, “You don’t see a lot of coaches like him nowadays.” That’s probably an understatement.

MaineLisherness, 64, is retiring at the end of this season after coaching the Mt. Abram girls for 26 years. He won Class C state championships in 1991 and 2007.

Lisherness is the bridge to a different era. If his team wasn’t hustling, he would say it -- bluntly. But if he felt it was deserved, he would quickly hand out praise. After a poorly-played loss, he might say to a reporter answering the phone, “Yeah, you can help me. You can come coach my team.” One time, calling a newspaper with the score after a big win, he yelled into the phone, “This is Doug Lisherness over at Abram! We kicked their butts!”

He also had to be more resourceful than most coaches, and his current team is a great example of that. The varsity and JV practice at the same time, each taking half the court. The JV team is winless this season, so much of practice is spent on individual drills with the varsity players. That’s easier than it sounds, because the Roadrunners are down to six varsity players. Still, Mt. Abram is 7-9 and will make the Western C tournament.

Lisherness is adamant that he is done coaching for good after this season. A lot of coaches pride themselves on being teachers, and Lisherness is the same way.

“I’ve always said there’s nothing any more satisfying than to work on (something) in practice, and to go and see your team execute it during the game,” Lisherness told the Morning Sentinel. “I love teaching the game of basketball, and I love seeing them develop throughout their high school career.”

BEGIN, MASSEY WIN GAZIANO AWARDS
Thornton offensive lineman Bobby Begin and John Bapst defensive lineman Kurt Massey won the Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Offensive and Defensive Lineman Awards. Both were standout two-way players this season, and Begin was a captain on the Thornton team that won the Class A state championship. The Gaziano awards are given annually to the top senior offensive and defensive linemen in the state.

Begin and Massey each received $5,000 scholarships. The four other finalists for the two awards each received $1,000 scholarships.

Begin, who has a 3.96 GPA, hopes to attend the University of Maine, but will not play football. Massey, who has a 3.7 GPA, hopes to play in college, and is looking at Maine, Merrimack, and the University of New Hampshire.

BIG TURNAROUND AT HYDE
The Hyde girls basketball team lost 48-35 to Old Orchard Beach on Tuesday. That normally wouldn’t be noteworthy, but it was the first loss for the Phoenix this season -- after finishing 0-16 last winter.

First-year coach Richard Polgar, who coached at the George School in Philadelphia the last six seasons, has the Phoenix in the No. 3 spot in Western D behind perennial powers Richmond and Rangeley.

Hyde does not play Richmond or Rangeley during the regular season, but could be a dark horse in the Western D tournament. Old Orchard Beach plays in Class C, and a few weeks before beating Hyde, the Seagulls defeated Richmond, 55-48.

“I think the chemistry of this team is incredible,” Polgar told the Portland Press Herald. “It’s one of the best teams I’ve coached in that aspect, in the way the girls play together and bring out the best in each other.”

SCARBOROUGH IS BOYS AND GIRLS HOCKEY TOWN
Scarborough has a chance to have dual state champions in boys and girls hockey this winter. The Red Storm boys are 12-1 under veteran coach Norm Gagne, who has won six state titles and nearly 600 games in his career. Four players have at least 20 points -- defenseman Nick Bagley (26), and forwards (Garrett McDonald (26), Trevor Murray (22), and Jack Rouselle (20). Goalie Dalton Finley has a 1.18 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.

The Scarborough girls have been even stingier. Their record is 14-1-1, and they’ve allowed a total of nine goals in 16 games. Goalie Devan Kane, a junior, made the Maine Sunday Telegram all-state team as a freshman and as a sophomore.

GIRLS BASKETBALL TOP 10
1. McAuley (15-0) - Lions were undefeated last season, and are on their way this winter.

2. Deering (14-1) - Rams have proven they can win by scoring or grinding.

3. Cheverus (13-2) - Lost by four to Deering and by 21 to McAuley.

4. Scarborough (12-3) - Handled everyone on schedule except three teams above.

5. Edward Little (12-3) - If Red Eddies can put it all together, they’re the best in Eastern A.

6. Bangor (12-3) - Rams have won six in a row and eight of last nine.

7. Presque Isle (15-0) - Class B Wildcats are averaging 71.7 points per game.

8. Mt. Blue (10-5) - Inconsistent lately, but driven after crushing OT loss in last year’s playoffs.

9. Lawrence (11-4) - Center Nia Irving and point guard Dominique Lewis are among best freshmen in state.

10. Mt. Ararat (12-3) - No stars, but well-coached and can score inside and out.

BOYS BASKETBALL TOP 10
1. Hampden (15-0) - Broncos have allowed under 40 points in each of last five games.

2. Portland (13-2) - Might be the best of a deep Western A.

3. Deering (12-3) - Was cruising before losing last two games and scoring under 40 in each.

4. Falmouth (14-0) - Yachtsmen have run over the competition in Western B.

5. South Portland (13-2) - Beat Deering by 16 and Westbrook by 18, but can Red Riots sustain it?

6. Westbrook (12-3) - Could make case Blue Blazes should be higher after road win at Portland.

7. Lawrence (11-4) - Coach Mike McGee’s final team is among his best.

8. Edward Little (14-1) - Red Eddies haven’t faced Hampden and lost to Lawrence by 14.

9. Bonny Eagle (12-3) - Scots can light it up, but if you hold them under 60, it’s anyone’s game.

10. Bangor (11-4) - Young Rams are exciting and have experience in close games.

BOYS HOCKEY TOP 10
1. Scarborough (12-1) - Four different players tied for team lead with 11 goals.

2. Falmouth (9-2) - Yachtsmen have won last three games by an aggregate score of 33-3.

3. Lewiston (9-2-1) - Blue Devils have allowed 18 goals in 12 games.

4. Bangor (9-2) - Senior Parker Sanderson has 35 points in 11 games.

5. Greely (7-4) - Class B Rangers have held their own against Class A foes.

6. St. Dominic (7-3-1) - Saints are erratic, but can play with anyone.

7. Cheverus (8-2) - Junior goalie Jason Blier has a .935 save percentage.

8. Biddeford (5-6-1) - Tigers have had their moments against a brutal schedule.

9. Messalonskee (11-1) - Showdown with Greely looms on Saturday.

10. Camden Hills (10-0) - Steamrolling the competition, but schedule is suspect.

New England Roundup: Maine

January, 25, 2013
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Max McHugh, a standout soccer and girls' basketball player at Central High School, suffered a broken leg recently as the result of a head-on auto accident. Shortly after, the school had a “white-out” night at a home game, where fans were asked to wear white in support of McHugh and her family.

MaineMcHugh was a key figure in Central’s Class C state championship last season. She played solid defense on Hall-Dale’s Carylanne Wolfington (now a freshman at Colby College) and hit two free throws with 11.4 seconds left for the final points in Central’s 40-39 victory.

The driver of the other car was Tanya Clement, of Corinth. The Bangor Daily News reported that Clement’s 6-year-old daughter was still hospitalized eight days later from her injuries as a result of the accident.

Bangor television station WABI reported that according to the police report, “McHugh admitted she was changing a song on her I-pod and not paying attention.”

GOODRICH WINS FITZPATRICK TROPHY
Cheverus star Donald Goodrich won the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy, given annually to the top senior football player in the state. Goodrich, who ranks 58th in a class of 122 students, played two years at Cheverus after transferring from York following his sophomore year.

Goodrich rushed for 8.65 yards per carry, 1,722 yards, and 22 touchdowns this season. On defense, he had seven sacks. Cheverus had won 34 consecutive games before losing to eventual Class A state champion Thornton in the state final.

The other finalists for the award were Sanford’s Alex Shain and Cony’s Chandler Shostak. Shain rushed for over 1,400 yards and scored 28 touchdowns, while Shostak had 58 receptions for 853 yards and 12 touchdowns, while also intercepting 11 passes on defense.

TRACK AND FIELD ONLINE
Track and cross country coach Derek Veilleux has created an outstanding website for Maine high school track and field at http://me.milesplit.com. Veilleux coaches the Scarborough boys in indoor and outdoor track, and Cape Elizabeth in cross country.

Veilleux told the Morning Sentinel he spends about 30 to 40 hours per week putting information on the site. He also frequently updates his Twitter account (@MaineTrackXC).

“I’ve got a regular full-time job, and then I coach in the afternoon,” Veilleux told the Sentinel. “This is done late at night and early in the morning.”

The site has regular updates, as well as lists of the top times and performances across the state in each event. Several athletes also contribute blogs. One of those is written by Waterville’s Bethanie Brown, who was recently named Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year for Maine and will be heading to the University of Connecticut in the fall. Brown was the first Maine high school girl to run a mile in undr 5 minutes in a competition.

Brunswick’s Alex Nichols, the defending Class A indoor boys champion in the 400 meters, also blogs for the site. Here’s an excerpt from his latest blog:

“Oh but wait, that sounds like a boring meet doesn’t it? You’re right, it was. That is until our bus, cruising at 50 mph down the highway, was assaulted by a large turkey. ... A turkey had crashed directly into the bus windshield, shattering it, and hitting the bus so hard that the rear-view mirror INSIDE the bus had been shattered. We slowed down and pulled off to the side of the highway to wait for another bus, which took approximately an hour. While we were waiting, an SUV came flying down the highway towards us. I don’t understand how it is even possible not to see a school bus on the highway, but he jerked out of the way at the last second, spun a full 360 degrees, and ended up in the snow bank 200 meters in front of us. For those of you who don’t know how far 200 meters is, you’re on the wrong website. Anyways, we finally got home in one piece and went out to eat. I obviously got a turkey sandwich.”

LOAN MEASURE AT NOKOMIS FAILS
Regional School Unit 19, which includes Nokomis Regional High School, recently asked voters in its eight communities to approve a $2.9 million loan. The communities denied a $3.6 million loan on Election Day. After making approximately $750,000 in cuts, RSU 19 asked for the reduced loan.

Among the cuts originally slated were all sub-varsity sports at the high school in winter and spring sports, and travel to away games for winter and spring varsity teams. The teams and travel were all restored for this school year by private fundraising.

EASTERN A GIRLS' BASKETBALL UP FOR GRABS
Whoever wins the Eastern A tournament will be a huge underdog against Catherine McAuley High School. The Lions are the defending state champions, and have three talented six-footers, as well as one of the state’s best point guards in Allie Clement.

But the team that comes out of the East will have the advantage in number of close games. There are at least six and as many as nine teams that are more or less even, depending on the day. Every team in the league has at least three losses.

Mt. Blue is one of the league’s favorites. Within the span of a week, the Cougars defeated previously unbeaten Mt. Ararat by making all 18 of their foul shots over the final three minutes, then lost in double overtime to a .500 Skowhegan team, then edged Brewer, another .500 team, in overtime. And Skowhegan? Three days after knocking off Mt. Blue to earn a leg up on one of the final playoff spots, the Indians lost 56-51 to Hampden, which was 0-11 entering the game.

Cony is holding on to the final playoff spot at 7-6. The Rams got that high by defeating Edward Little, a team that was 10-2 at that point. Cony also lost to Lawrence, 51-50, on a 23-foot 3-point heave by freshman Dominqiue Lewis with two seconds left. Cony has no one taller in its regular rotation than 5-foot-8 Josie Lee, but the Rams take about to 25 to 30 3-pointers per game, and the tournament is played a few miles from their school at the Augusta Civic Center.

No. 1 seed Edward Little is 10-3, with those three losses by a total of eight points. In contrast, Presque Isle is the top-ranked team in Eastern B. The Wildcats are 13-0, and exactly one of those wins has been by less than 25 points.

New England Roundup: Maine

December, 28, 2012
12/28/12
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Earlier this month, we reported on Denis Collins, the Bangor High School hockey coach who resigned after a player allegedly urinated into a jug on the team bus and the subsequent investigation by the school.

MaineRecently, Collins spoke about both his second meeting with administrators, and a later meeting with school superintendent Betsy Webb.

On Dec. 14, three days after the alleged incident on Bangor's trip to Presque Isle, Collins resigned, and says he was told at that point by school administrators to "man up" and stay on as coach.

Collins said there was another meeting on Monday, Dec. 17. He said he went in with the idea of remaining as Bangor's coach, but was told by school administrators that they were accepting his resignation.

According to Collins, Bangor principal Paul Butler became upset during the meeting.

"The conversation got extremely heated between the principal and myself, to the point where I felt that it was best that I not be in there," Collins said. "He was very, very aggressive to me. He was hostile. It was not a safe environment. I resigned under duress, because I felt it was not a safe environment for me to be there."

Butler is not commenting publicly on the whole incident. He recently told the Bangor Daily News, "Denis has already shared beyond what I can share because I'm bound by confidentiality."

Collins met with Webb on Dec. 21. He said he outlined things he had done for the program, including putting in money out of his own pocket. He said the meeting ended during a conversation that "got off track" about policies. At that point, Collins said, Webb replied, "I'm done with this" and the meeting ended.

"I'm waiting for a response from the superintendent of schools," Collins said. "Am I fired. What's going to happen?"

Collins said he believes the school will obtain legal counsel. Asked if he himself would consider getting legal counsel, Collins said. "If they try to sweep under the carpet that the principal was hostile with me, I think I will."

Collins said he still follows the Bangor team, which is 4-0, but has not played at home since his resignation. He said he keeps in touch with several players on the team.

"Do the kids talk to me? Absolutely," he said. "I have about seven or eight of them who will call me from the Bangor team."

Boys' Hoop Top 10
1. Hampden - Broncos allowed 13 points through three quarters in showdown with Lawrence.
2. Deering - Labson Abwoch and Dominic Lauture lead an explosive offense.
3. Portland - Balanced offense helped Bulldogs in close wins over Bonny Eagle and Scarborough.
4. Edward Little - Red Eddies are averaging 70.4 ppg.
5. Falmouth - Five new starters, but Yachtsmen have still won every game by at least 18 points.
6. South Portland - Red Riots are unbeaten with defense and point guard Tanner Hyland.
7. Bonny Eagle - Star guard Dustin Cole is coming off a 42-point game against Gorham.
8. York - Wildcats haven't been tested; that will change Jan. 3 vs. Falmouth.
9. Bangor - Only team to play Hampden tough so far.
10. Lawrence - Bulldogs have bounced back from Hampden debacle; may be sleeper in February.

Girls' Hoop Top 10
1. McAuley - Of first five wins, only one was by less than 49 points.
2. Deering - No team's scored more than 35 against Rams, let alone 40 or 50.
3. Scarborough - Red Storm still rolling under new coach.
4. Presque Isle - Wildcats may get a test in upcoming game with Mt. Desert Island.
5. Cheverus - Lady Stags scoring almost 60 ppg, allowing 23.2.
6. Mt. Ararat - Eagles could be undefeated when they face Brewer on Jan. 11.
7. Edward Little - Red Eddies could win Eastern A if they clean some things up.
8. South Portland - Next week will tell whether Red Riots truly belong on this list.
9. Lake Region - Lakers can score with anyone, and play defense, too.
10. Bangor - Rams next three games (Oxford Hills, Edward Little, Lawrence) will reveal a lot.

Boys' Hockey Top 10
1. Thornton - Lost to Class B Greely, but still a talented group.
2. Lewiston - Devon Beland and Kyle Lemelin lead powerful Blue Devils offense.
3. Scarborough - Red Storm have a deep offense and goalie Dalton Finley helps them win close games.
4. Falmouth - Only losses are by a goal apiece to Lewiston and Scarborough
5. Bangor - Rams lost coach, but have yet to lose a game.
6. St. Dominic - 1-2-1 in first four games, but they were against top four teams on this list.
7. Greely - Rangers have scored 23 goals in four games.
8. Biddeford - Tigers face Thornton and Falmouth in next two games.
9. Brunswick - January will be the real test for Dragons.
10. Camden Hills - Windjammers have four players with at least five goals.

New England Roundup: Maine

December, 17, 2012
12/17/12
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For most teams, the Maine high school basketball season began Dec. 7. Here’s a look at how the classes shape up

MaineClass A Boys: The West looks like a three-team race between Portland, Deering, and Bonny Eagle, with South Portland ready should there be an opening. Junior Justin Zukowski is Portland’s top all-around player, and he has help in Nick Volger and Jayvon Pitts-Young. Deering tries to beat you inside, with six-six Labson Abwoch, and six-four Thiwat Thiwat, both of whom are from the Sudan and moved to the United States at an early age.

Hampden was upset by Deering in the state final, and even though the Broncos return only two starters, they were still the pick for first place in Eastern A’s preseason coaches poll. Edward Little, Lawrence, and Bangor, all programs with strong traditions, could each challenge Hampden. Lawrence relies on forward Spencer Carey and guard Xavier Lewis, a transfer from Bangor.

Class A Girls: Western A has at least four strong teams in McAuley, Scarborough, Cheverus, and Deering. Oddly enough, none of them play each other until January. Point guard Allie Clement leads two-time defending state champion McAuley. Add in three six-footers and a talented guard in sophomore Olivia Dalphonse (a transfer from Bonny Eagle), and this team should go far in the tournament again.

In the East, Edward Little, Mt. Ararat, and Mt. Blue should fight it out for the top spot. Edward Little’s top scorer is guard Ashlee Arnold, and the Red Eddies have some motivation after blowing an 11-point halftime lead and losing to Cony in last winter’s regional final. Mt. Blue has balanced scoring, and guard Gabby Foy is a player who can run up a lot of points in a short time. Brewer was the big surprise in the early going, beating Mt. Blue on a three-pointer at the buzzer, then knocking off Lewiston the same way three nights later. Bangor has the height and athleticism to play with anyone, while Oxford Hills, Skowhegan, and Lawrence could be sleepers in a deep league.

Class B boys: Falmouth and York are two of the tallest and best teams in the West. York has five players six-four or taller; Falmouth has three at least six-five. Falmouth didn’t return any starters this season, but began the year with three lopsided wins. To go with York’s height, the Wildcats have senior guard Adam Bailey, who hit 11 three-pointers in York’s first four games this season.

Expectations are very high at Oceanside, which finished 12-8 last season but returns four starters and is loaded with height. The Portland Press Herald even said that, “Anything short of winning Eastern Class B would be a disappointment.” Winslow is expected to be a playoff team, but Oceanside beat the Black Raiders, 80-53, on opening night. Medomak Valley, Camden Hills, and possibly Caribou and Presque Isle will also look to get hot at the right time.

Class B girls: Defending regional champ Lake Region is probably the favorite again. Tiana-Jo Carter averaged 15 points and 17 rebounds per game last winter, and the Portland Press Herald reports she has already received full scholarship offers to Division I schools. The Lakers are so deep at guard that freshman CeCe Hancock stepped in and had 11 points and nine assists in an early-season win over Waynflete. York, Gorham, Spruce Mountain, and Wells could all make a run at Lake Region. Leavitt might not have all the pieces to go all the way, but the Hornets have one of the most entertaining players in the state in senior Kristen Anderson, who will play at the University of New Hampshire next season. Anderson can shoot from 30-35 feet out, and often does.

In Eastern B, Presque Isle is the decided favorite. The Wildcats finally got past Nokomis last winter and squeaked past Lake Region to win the state title. Presque Isle’s first three games this season were wins by scores of 39, 63, and 38 points, and that’s a good indication of how their regular season will go. The Wildcats are never very tall, but they throw lots of quick guards at you and can shoot from long range. Nokomis, which won’t face Presque Isle during the regular season, may have the best chance to defeat the Wildcats in the playoffs. The Warriors have three fine guards in Lindsay Whitney and twins Kylie and Kelsie Richards, and a good low-post option in Anna MacKenzie.

Class C boys: Dirigo has won four consecutive Western C titles, and until someone gets past the Cougars, they have to be considered the favorites again. Even after graduating seven seniors from last winter’s state champions, Dirigo was still picked first in the Mountain Valley Conference coaches poll. Boothbay is probably Dirigo’s toughest competition in the MVC, and Waynflete, which competes in the Western Maine Conference, could be a dark horse.

Houlton went 8-10 last winter, but may just be the No. 1 team in Eastern C. Kyle Bouchard, who can play pretty much any position, leads the Shiretowners. Among Houlton’s early wins this season was a seven-point victory on the road against a good Class B Presque Isle team. Penquis Valley and Lee Academy — which is currently on probation from the Maine Principals’ Association for recruiting violations — are also threats for the regional crown.

Class C girls: The Mountain Valley Conference is deeper, but the Western Maine Conference has the best player (Margaret Veroneau) and maybe the best team (Waynflete). The Flyers have a top-notch coach in Brandon Salway, and bring back all five starters. They’re good enough that they almost beat Class B Lake Region, losing by five on the road. Madison, Lisbon, and Monmouth are also contenders. Mt. Abram should have been in that mix, but the Roadrunners had some players decide not to return, and apparently don’t have everything they need to play with the top teams.

Calais, led by guard Madison McVicar and center Paige Gillespie, is the favorite in the East. Orono, Dexter, and Narraguagas are also in the hunt.

Class D boys: Forest Hills is known for a lot of things, like being closer to the Canadian border than any other high school in Maine, and having kindergarten through 12 all in one building. The Tigers also have a great basketball team. Senior Evan Worster already has over 1,000 points, and everyone returns from a team that went to the Class D state championship game this winter. The Tigers will get tested this season, as Valley, Greenville, and possibly Hyde all have the potential to cut down the nets after the Western D final in late February.

When Jonesport-Beals won the state title last season, it did so with a total high school enrollment of 58 students. It helped immeasurably that one of those was six-foot-five Garet Beal, the state’s Gatorade Player of the year. Beal will play at the University of Maine next season, and already has back-to-back 40-point games this season. The second of those was in overtime against Deer Isle-Stonington, a team that could challenge the Royals again this winter. Woodland could also give Jonesport-Beals a scare.

Class D girls: It looks like Rangeley and Richmond will battle once again for the Western D title. Rangeley, a school with about 80 students, has three six-footers in sophomore Taylor Esty, freshman Blayke Morin, and transfer student Emma Gunic. Richmond has its own six-footer in Jamie Plummer, the daughter of Colby College baseball coach Dale Plummer. Rangeley won the first meeting this season, 56-54 in overtime.

In the East, Washburn won the state title last winter with no seniors and three juniors. The Beavers did lose their coach when Mike Carlos was not rehired after winning two consecutive state titles. There were widespread rumors of parents being unhappy with Carlos, who is now coaching at East Grand. When Carlos was not rehired, superintendent Ed Buckley released a statement to the Bangor Daily News which included the line, “we do not measure the success of our athletic teams by the number of contests they win but whether it is a positive experience for all our students.” Diana Belskis Trams is now coaching the Washburn girls. Van Buren could give Washburn a run in the East. The Crusaders’ star is junior guard Parise Rossignol, who verbally committed to the University of Maine as a sophomore.

New England Roundup: Maine

December, 3, 2012
12/03/12
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Nick Janes remembers how it used to feel to be a Marshwood football player, and he remembers when that changed.

MaineAt one time, the Hawks had one of the best football programs in the state. But Marshwood hadn’t been to a state title game since 1989, and finished 2-6 and out of the playoffs in 2011.

“You felt secluded,” said Janes, a senior running back and defensive back on this year’s Marshwood team. “Like, everybody knew you were, but no one really cared.”

Marshwood hired coach Alex Rotsko before this season. In addition to coaching at American International College and Ithaca, Rotsko had won 11 Super Bowls in 19 years as coach of Longmeadow High School in Massachusetts.

“The first practice, you looked at him, he just looked confident,” Janes said. “You didn’t want to lose for him.”

For Janes, the moment he realized things were different came in a preseason scrimmage against Portsmouth (N.H.) High. Marshwood struggled to move the ball, and Rotsko told his players what was wrong and how to fix it.

“The next play, we ran for like a 20-yard gain,” Janes said. “I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

Marshwood eventually made it to the Class B state championship game, losing 44-42 to Mt. Blue. It was clear Marshwood is back.

“You could feel the whole community coming around you,” Janes said.

Rotsko, who was also athletic director at Longmeadow, was friends with former Marshwood coach John Caverly, so he was aware when the Marshwood job became open.

“My wife and I own a home at York Beach, and we were coming up here anyway after I retired,” Rotsko said.

As usual, Rotsko installed the Wing-T offense, a run-based system built of multiple weapons.

“We ran it at Longmeadow,” he said. “The 19 years that I was there, we ran it 18 years and had 18 winning seasons. You can guess what happened that one year.”

“We used to run the spread offense,” said Dan Lizotte, a senior fullback/linebacker. “I thought we had the size to run a tighter offense. We just powered it up the middle. I liked it.”

With his favorite offense in place, Rotsko said there were two clear differences for him between Maine and Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, you have to play three games in 12 days at playoff time, including the annual Thanksgiving rivalry, while Maine simply has a game each week. The other notable difference is the size of the rosters.

“The school that I came from was not a real big school,” Rotsko said. “We probably had 500 boys, and 100 played football. I was used to dealing with 105, 110 kids. I came here, we had about 60 kids at the first practice. Out of those 60, 40 or so were freshmen and sophomores.”

Marshwood’s first two games in the regular season were against York and Mountain Valley. York was returning 18 starters from a playoff team, and Mountain Valley is a perennial powerhouse. Rotsko said he was told those were the two teams that Marshwood had no chance to beat, but the Hawks won both games, defeating York 28-12 and Mountain Valley, 19-12.

“It was unbelievable,” Janes said. “Everybody was really excited. It felt surreal.”

Less than a month after its second win, Marshwood lost a former teammate. Troy Pappas, the quarterback in 2011 and a freshman at Bates College, died Oct. 5, six days after falling down a stairwell.

“I’ve thought of him every day,” Janes said. “It’s tough to go through something like that, so he’s always on my mind. Playing with him for three years, you get used to him being there.”

The Hawks took the field just a couple hours after Pappas’ death, and defeated Cape Elizabeth, 20-0, to run their record to 5-1. They did not lose again in the regular season, and after beating Cape Elizabeth again in the quarterfinals, knocked off Wells, 15-13, and York, 21-20 to win the Western B title.

“I feel like Troy was there watching over us, making sure we won by the skin of our teeth,” Lizotte said. “Everyone felt that was it.”

A lot of key players are back for Marshwood next season, like quarterback Cameron Roll, running back Brett Gerry, and linemen Tyler Gagnon and Beau Blanchette.

“I thought it was a great season,” Rotsko said. “It couldn’t have gone any better. I think everybody’s already excited for next year.”

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: Maine

November, 13, 2012
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Nick Richardson knows some of the top players in his sport, people like Nate Coolidge and Chris Pothier.

Maine“Whenever I talk to them,” Richardson said, “there’s always a point where we encounter, ‘You can’t play because you’re a boy.’ ”

You see, Richardson’s favorite sport is field hockey, and for many people, that doesn’t fit with the image they have of a young boy and man-to-be in the United States. While field hockey is popular for males in many other countries, that’s not the case in the U.S., and especially not the case in Maine, where Richardson is not allowed to play for Kents Hill, his high school team.

Ironically, Richardson’s path to becoming a field hockey player is the typical American sports story. His father, Randy, coached Kents Hill for 10 years and now coaches Lewiston, where he took the Blue Devils from 2-9-3 to 9-6 in his first season. His sister plays field hockey at Smith College, and when Nick was a toddler, the players on his dad’s team put a small field hockey stick in his hands.

“I can honestly say I’ve been playing since I could walk,” said Nick, a senior. “I love being able to move the ball around the field without touching the ball with your physical body. I would like to stay involved with the game as long as I can still walk.”

Richardson was able to play in middle school, when, as he tells it, no one minded that there was a boy playing because he was small and slow and not that good anyway. He’s improved to the point where he’ll play as part of the USA U-17 men’s team in a series Nov. 27-Dec. 2 in California against Canada.

But no matter how good he is, he can’t play in a high school game. Richardson originally attended Maranacook, a school that falls under the Maine Principals' Association (MPA). Kents Hill is an MPA in some sports and plays in the Maine Association of Independent Schools' Athletic Directors conference -- neither of which allow boys to participate in field hockey.

“The minute that I started to get physically bigger,” Richardson said, “I started to get, ‘Oh, we don’t want the boy to play.’ It forced me to look higher, which in hindsight, I’m grateful for. If I had kept playing with high school girls, I never would have thought about playing on a national team.”

A quick Google check will find other boys facing the same resistance. Keeling Pilaro, a 13-year-old boy in New York, was kicked off his field hockey team because people thought he was too good. This past weekend in Massachusetts, Walpole beat Dennis-Yarmouth in a high school playoff game. Dennis-Yarmouth’s goalie is a boy, and Walpole coach Marianne Murphy told The Boston Globe that he shouldn’t be allowed to play.

“They have a sophomore girl goalie on the bench that’s been displaced because they’re playing a boy,” Murphy told the Globe. “It’s something I feel strongly about and it’s disappointing to know other teams have come against them and lost because of it.”

If you follow field hockey long enough, you realize that the men who are involved in the sport are really into it, because they have to have the passion to overcome other people’s perceptions and stereotypes. Richardson is the same way. To stay sharp, he plays in Boston on weekends, driving seven or eight hours round-trip through the traffic to play pick-up for two hours with the Minutemen club team. He’s excited that he’ll also play with the Cape Ann Coalition U-19 boys’ indoor team this winter.

“I’ll be able to play indoors with the Minutemen nine-to-11 and train with Cape Ann one-to-three,” he said.

When most people think of Olympic athletes, the image is of children making everything else in their lives secondary to train for their sport. With United States men’s field hockey, that’s really not the case. There are so few players that, unlike with other countries like Germany and the Netherlands, there is no chance of a core group playing together for years. Coolidge, for example, didn’t play the sport until he was 12, and ended up on the U.S. Olympic team.

That’s where Richardson wants to end up as well. The training center for the U.S. team is in Chula Vista, Calif., and you don’t even have to look at a map to know that’s a heckuva long way from Maine. Richardson has thought through that process. He’d be a junior in college in 2016, and he’s probably have to take a year off.

“In the perfect world, I would love to walk on to the Astroturf in Rio De Janeiro in the 2016 Olympics with the U.S. men’s team,” he said. “I’d love to be able to do it again in 2020. It’s definitely realistic, definitely possible, but very, very challenging.”

IT’S STATE CHAMPIONSHIP FOOTBALL TIME
The state football championships are set for Nov. 17 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Here’s a quick look back at the regional finals:

Class A: Cheverus had won 34 games in a row and the last two state championships, but Thornton upset the Stags, 20-13, as Andrew Libby rushed 28 times for 130 yards and three touchdowns. Cheverus fumbled the ball on a fourth-and-goal play at the Thornton 1 and later missed a 32-yard field goal. The Stags reached the Thornton 23 on their last drive, but ended up at midfield after three straight sacks by the Golden Trojans defense.

Thornton will take on Lawrence, which had its troubles with underdog Cony. The Bulldogs had overpowered Cony, 27-6, earlier in the season, but this time Cony took a quick 10-0 lead and still led 10-3 at halftime thanks to four Lawrence turnovers. In the second half, it was Cony’s turnovers that made the difference, as Spencer Carey picked off two passes by Cony quarterback Ben Lucas to set up two touchdowns. The second was a 47-yard run by Josh Doolan that salted away a 20-10 Lawrence victory.

Lawrence was the last Eastern A team to win a state title, defeating Gorham, 14-13, in 2006. That was also the last Class A state championship game decided by less than two touchdowns. The West has won nine of the last 10 state titles.

Class B: After squeaking by Wells, 15-13, in the semifinals, Marshwood held off York, 21-20, to win the Western B title and reach the state championship game for the first time since 1989. Marshwood quarterback Cameron Roll rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns and also threw a touchdown pass. Brett Gerry also rushed for 108 yards for the Hawks. Still, it took some luck for Marshwood to win. Trailing 21-14, York scored on a 2-yard run by quarterback Ross Hogan with 2:25 left in the game. The Wildcats made the extra point, but were penalized five yards for having only six men on the line of scrimmage. The re-kick hit the upright, the Hawks recovered the onside kick, and Marshwood had the win.

Marshwood is coached by Alex Rotsko, a legend in Massachusetts football after winning 11 Super Bowls at Longmeadow. Rotsko is in his first season after the Hawks went 2-6 last fall.

There was no such drama in Eastern B, as Mt. Blue cruised to a 42-14 victory over Waterville. Calan Lucas and Chad Luker led a Mt. Blue attack that rolled up 367 yards on the ground. Lucas rushed 17 times for 148 yards, while Luker had 74 yards and four touchdowns. Waterville made it a game for a little bit, cutting a 21-0 lead to 21-14 with two touchdowns in a span of 14 seconds late in the first half. Mt. Blue added a touchdown in the third quarter and then two more in the game’s final seven minutes.

Class C: Winslow held off Dirigo, 17-6, in a game that was 3-0 into the fourth quarter. Then Justin Martin, Winslow’s 6-foot-5 defensive back, intercepted a pass and returned it 23 yards to the Dirigo 6. Winslow scored on the next play, and Martin later returned another interception 73 yards for a touchdown.

In the Eastern C game, Donnie Boyer ran for 266 yards and three touchdowns as Foxcroft defeated John Bapst, 33-7. It was actually one of the closest games of the year for the Ponies. Aside from a loss to Bucksport (and Foxcroft won the rematch in the playoffs, 45-0) the Ponies have won every other game by at least 35 points. Foxcroft is averaging 46.7 points per game this season, and that includes that 13-0 loss to Bucksport in the regular season.

FINANCIAL CRISIS AT NOKOMIS
Nokomis Regional High School in Newport recently took the step of cutting all its junior varsity programs for winter and spring high school sports. The school will also not provide transportation for the varsity teams to away games, forcing students to find their own transportation.

Nokomis is the high school in Regional School Unit 19, which includes eight towns. RSU 19 superintendent Greg Potter, who took over in July, said the school unit is in a financial crisis because of mismanagement and accounting mistakes by the prior administration.

Voters in RSU 19’s eight towns were asked to approve a $3.6 million loan on Election Day. The referendum failed by a total of 353 votes, and RSU 19 began implementing the cuts the next day. According to information on the RSU 19 website, cutting the JV programs and eliminating transportation is estimated to save a combined $58,000. RSU 19 will also cut several full and part-time positions.

“Disappointed is, I don’t think enough of a description for how I feel,” Nokomis athletic director Earl Anderson told the Morning Sentinel. “I’m beyond disappointed.”

The Nokomis girls' basketball team has a record of 56-9 over the past three seasons, and went to the regional final in February. Nokomis also reached the 2012 regional final in softball.

DOUBLY SWEET WINS FOR SCARBOROUGH
It was almost like the Maine Principals’ Association was thumbing its nose as Scarborough. Here were the Red Storm, with teams in both the Class A girls and Class A boys’ state finals. Those games would be played at the Weatherbee Complex in Hampden, and Google Maps pegs that as a 133-mile drive, one-way. The Class B and C state finals, meanwhile, were played in … Scarborough.

If “bus legs” were a factor, it didn’t show. In the boys’ final, Scarborough defeated Mt. Ararat, 4-0. In the girls’ final, Scarborough outlasted Bangor, 2-1, in double overtime on a goal by Sarah Martens. It was the third straight year Scarborough and Bangor had met in the girls Class A state final.

With the double wins, Scarborough became only the second team to win both Class A titles outright in the same year. Waterville captured both Gold Balls in 1983.

New England Roundup: Maine

October, 23, 2012
10/23/12
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Christine DiPietro scored 10 goals for the Fryeburg Academy field hockey team this fall. Over the winter, she also placed sixth in the slalom and 15th in the giant slalom at the Class A state championships.

MaineDiPietro is also legally blind. She told the Portland Press Herald that she doesn't drive a car, that she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at age 4, and that her vision has gotten worse over the last few years.

DiPietro, a senior, recently played her last field hockey game for Fryeburg as the Raiders lost 1-0 to Leavitt in a Western B semifinal game. Fryeburg field hockey coach DeDe Frost said she made a point of not publicizing DiPietro's vision until this season.

"I wanted them to be so shocked when they found out that she's the one that kicked their butts around the block and scored the goals, and that's what Christina's always wanted," Frost told the Press Herald.

"I can honestly say I've accepted it," DiPietro said. "I always have. But when people feel bad for me, I'm just like, 'Why? You don't have to.'"

LOOKING AT THE FOOTBALL PICTURE
Class A East: If you follow football in Maine, every year you hear at least one person proclaim that Cony is his sleeper team. The ritual is as inevitable as Cony's disappointment against those expectations.

This year is different. The Rams are 6-2, and have one of the pest quarterback-receiver combinations in the game in Ben Lucas to Chandler Shostak. Lucas has thrown for over 2,000 yards, and 10 of his touchdown passes have gone to Shostak, who also has eight interceptions on defense.

Still, the best team in the league is Lawrence (8-0). The Bulldogs had tough tests over the last two weeks, but posted a 27-6 victory over Cony (intercepting Lucas five times) and a 34-7 victory over Brunswick. The Bulldogs have an excellent shot at playing in their fourth Class A title game in seven years.

Class A West: With a 21-0 victory over Deering, Cheverus (8-0) set a state record with 32 consecutive Class A victories. The Stags' toughest competition is Thornton (7-1), and the Golden Trojans gave Cheverus a game at home on Oct. 13, losing 28-14 before an announced crowd of 4,011.

Class B East: This could also be a two-horse race, although Hampden supporters would argue the notion that Mt. Blue (8-0) and Leavitt (7-1) are destined to meet in the regional final. Mt. Blue defeated Leavitt 20-12 at home earlier this month. If Leavitt has a weakness, it's probably pass defense, and Mt. Blue is well-known for its pass-happy spread offense. Hampden (7-1) lost 27-17 to Leavitt on opening night and did not face Mt. Blue this season.

Class B West: Maine uses a formula called Crabtree points to determine playoff seedings. The formula simply adds your winning percentage to the combined winning percentage of your opponents. When the regular season ended Saturday, Marshwood (7-1), Westbrook (6-2), and York (6-2) all had the same number of Crabtree points. Add in Greely at 7-1 and Wells at 6-2, and this could be a very interesting playoff bracket.

Class C East: Foxcroft has scored the most points in the state (371) and allowed the fewest (35). The catch is the Ponies are not undefeated. They dropped a 13-0 shocker to Bucksport (6-2). On the other hand, John Bapst (7-1) and Orono (6-2) both defeated Bucksport rather handily, but were no match for Foxcroft. The Ponies blasted Orono, 42-0, then went to Bapst and beat the Crusaders 40-0 the next week before falling to Bucksport.

Class C West: Winslow (7-1) has been the best team in the league since getting back over a dozen ineligible players. Oak Hill is also 7-1, and posted a dominating 33-0 victory over Dirigo (6-2) on Saturday. But when Winslow played Oak Hill, Winslow had too much strength up front and led 27-6 at halftime on the way to a 34-18 win. Maranacook (5-3) looked like a state title contender early in the year, but lost three straight to end the regular season and will have to play its first playoff game without quarterback Caleb Castonguay, who was ejected for fighting in a 27-8 loss to Poland in the season finale.

FOOTBALL TOP 10
1. Cheverus - Last three games have been closest of season, but Stags have still beaten everyone by at least 14 points.
2. Thornton - Leads SMAA in scoring and looking forward to playoff rematch with Cheverus.
3. Lawrence - No one has come within three touchdowns of Bulldogs.
4. Scarborough - Red Storm returned 10 starters from a 3-6 team, but finished 6-2.
5. Mt. Blue - Only two teams have held Cougars and QB Jordan Whitney under 40 points.
6. Cony - Junior QB Ben Lucas has thrown 29 TD passes. Defense is also solid.
7. Brunswick - RB Jared Jensen has rushed for nearly 1,900 yards.
8. Leavitt - Hornets' defense has been sensational against the run.
9. Messalonskee - Eagles trying to bounce back from stunning 37-14 loss to Bangor.
10. Hampden - Broncos have reeled off seven straight wins, six by at least 28 points.

HISTORIC YEAR FOR FIELD HOCKEY
It has been a season for records in Maine high school field hockey. Entering this fall, the single-season record for goals in one season was 116, set by Dexter in 2003. Only one other team had scored over 100 goals in one year.

This year, both Skowhegan and Messalonskee have broken that record. Skowhegan has outscored its opponents, 142-1. Messalonskee holds a 121-8 edge on its opponents.

As you might imagine, the league is top-heavy. Skowhegan's only goal allowed was scored by Messalonskee, and the Indians have seven of the eight goals Messalonskee has allowed. Mt. Ararat was the No. 4 seed in Eastern A this year, and entered its playoff game against Skowhegan with an 11-4 record. Skowhegan led 7-0 at the half and went on to an 11-0 win.

The two teams also have two of the top scorers in the country, and those two are putting their own names on the records. Megan Fogarty scored 42 goals on that 2003 Dexter team to set the state mark. Heading into Tuesday's regional final between Messalonskee and Skowhegan, Messalonskee's Kristy Bernatchez has 43 goals, and Skowhegan's Makaela Michonski has 42.

If Skowhegan can win Tuesday, the Indians will have one more game afterward, and Michonski has an outside shot at Fogarty's career record of 109 goals. Michonski currently has 104 career goals.

Of course, that one game afterward would be the state championship, and it could be against Scarborough. The Red Storm has not allowed a goal through 16 games this season. Since the Maine Principals' Association began holding state tournaments, the only team to go through an entire season without allowing a goal was Winslow in 1998. That squad was later inducted into the Maine Field Hockey Hall of Fame as a team.

PLAYERS REACH 100-GOAL MARK
Two Maine girls’ soccer players recently reached 100 goals for their careers. Central's Max McHugh hit the century mark with her fourth goal in a 7-0 win over Lee Academy. Meaghan Cavanaugh of Calais also has 100 goals this season.

McHugh and Cavanaugh are believed to be the 11th and 12th Maine high school girls’ soccer players to score 100 goals.

KENNEBUNK COACH RESIGNS OVER ZUMBA SCANDAL
The Kennebunk Zumba prostitution case is receiving national attention, and when local police recently released the names of 21 "Johns," one of them was 52-year-old Donald F. Hill, the boys’ ice hockey coach at Kennebunk High School the last 14 years.

Alexis Wright, 29, is accused of using her Zumba fitness studio for prostitution. A police affidavit claims Wright has a client list. Lawyers involved in the case have said the list has over 150 names.

New England Roundup: Maine

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
3:11
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In summarizing Brunswick in its preseason football capsules, the Portland Press Herald ended with this note about the team's offense:

Maine"The Dragons run the wing-T and spread things out as much as possible."

That was indeed the plan in preseason. But before the first game against Bangor, the plan changed to, simply, give the ball to Jared Jensen, and make holes for him.

"That really wasn't the plan until the Bangor week," Brunswick coach Dan Cooper said. "I just thought, 'I don't think we could beat these guys unless you get the ball every time.' "

Since then, Cooper has stayed with that strategy, and Jensen is this year's breakout star in Maine high school football. Through four games, all Brunswick wins, he has 119 carries for 1,296 yards -- that's 10.9 yards per carry -- and 16 touchdowns.

"I figured I'd be getting the ball a lot because we had some people out at the beginning of the season," Jensen said. "But I didn't think I'd be getting the ball that much."

Jensen, a senior, has started at defensive back since he was a sophomore. He started a couple games at running back at the end of last season, but still finished with only 129 yards on 21 attempts.

"We knew he was good last year," Cooper said. "We didn't know he was going to be this good. It seems like as the game goes on, people start getting tired. He doesn't."

Jensen stands about 5-foot-11 and weighs around 180 lbs. Remarkably, he wrestled at 152 lbs. last winter, when he won his second consecutive state championship. The added weight hasn't affected Jensen's speed or endurance.

"He gets up in the holes so fast, and he can cut," Cooper said. "He cuts left and right, doesn't lose his balance. He just has a knack for knowing what to do."

"Really, our goal is to get a hole for me for five or seven yards," Jensen said. "If I can get that, I can go wherever."

Even while being the bulk of Brunswick's offense, Jensen is the defensive captain from his cornerback spot. Against Edward Little, he ran for 332 yards and four touchdowns, and also intercepted three passes, returning one 61 yards to set up the clinching score.

"I don't really come off the field that much," Jensen said.

Jensen has been contacted by the University of Maine and the University of New Hampshire about playing next season. So far, only one thing has slowed him down: Against Skowhegan, he missed part of the game with leg cramps. Otherwise, he's been ready to be the main guy, as long as the game is close.

"I think the week of practice really helps with that," Jensen said. "I'm a little sore the next morning, but I'm good to go the whole game."

ASSAULT CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST MESSALONSKEE COACH
Messalonskee football coach Wes Littlefield was suspended last week over an incident in practice. The school and local police began investigations, and Littlefield resigned within 24 hours. On Tuesday, Littlefield was charged with a misdemeanor simple assault in connection with the incident.

Littlefield was in his 10th season as Messalonskee coach and had a 43-40 record, including 3-0 this fall. He told the Morning Sentinel what happened in practice was "a little incident with a kid that was blown out of proportion."

Assistant coaches Rob Rodrigue and Chapin LaBelle led the Eagles in their first game without Littlefield, a 41-0 victory over Oxford Hills. LaBelle was named interim head coach on Tuesday.

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: Maine

September, 12, 2012
9/12/12
1:43
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The high school football season in Maine started Aug. 31. Here’s a look at how each class shapes up this fall:

MaineClass A
In the East, Lawrence won the Pine Tree Conference Class A last season and has posted two convincing victories this fall, including a 42-12 win over a Bangor team that is usually one of the best in the PTC A. While the Bulldogs probably won’t have a 1,000-yard rusher, they have six good backs, led by Anthony Sementelli and Josh Doolan. Bangor transfer Xavier Lewis adds more depth to the offense. Against his old teammates, Lewis had three touches and scored two touchdowns.

In contrast, Brunswick will rely almost completely on running back Jared Jensen. After rushing for 129 yards all of last season, Jensen ran for 428 yards on opening night and 283 the next week, giving him 711 yards in two games.

Messalonskee will look to its lines to challenge for the top spot in the PTC A. The Eagles run the double-wing on offense, with back Corey McKenzie getting most of the carries, and have one of the best rushing defenses in the conference.

Cheverus and Thornton are the two best teams in what should be a deep Western A. Cheverus has won 26 straight games and two consecutive state titles. The Stags returned 10 starters this year, including fullback Donald Goodrich, who scored five touchdowns in last year’s state championship game.

“I think we’re as good as we were last year,” Goodrich told the Portland Press Herald. “We did lose some big players but the other guys have done a nice job replacing them.”

Thornton plays Cheverus on Oct. 13, and that’s already shaping up as the game of the year. The Golden Trojans return the entire backfield from a team that won nine games last year. Foremost among those backs is junior Andrew Libby, who scored 16 touchdowns last season and is a threat to go the distance anytime he returns a punt. Quarterback Eric Christensen is another key player in an offense that has big-play potential. If the offense can’t get the job done, kicker Brandon Briggs (14 touchbacks last fall) has a strong leg.

Windham could be a dark horse candidate. The Eagles are led by twins Joe and Shawn Francoeur on the lines, and quarterback Damien Shepard is a threat running or passing. Unlike many teams in the West, Windham wants to beat you with strength instead of speed.

Class B
Leavitt defeated Mt. Blue 22-21 in double overtime in last year’s PTC B final, and these could be the two best teams in the league again this fall. Leavitt has a pair of 300-pound tackles, and an offense led by Brian Bedard and Josh Faunce. The Hornets have won 35 consecutive games in the regular season.

Mt. Blue lost most of its starters at skill positions but brings back quarterback Jordan Whitney, who threw 25 touchdown passes last fall. This season, Whitney has completed 22 of 29 passes for 416 yards.

Hampden will look to challenge those teams behind running back Logan Steward and quarterback Matt Martin. Gardiner has a do-everything quarterback/kicker in Dennis Meehan, but line play will be the true test for the Tigers. Waterville began the season with two strong victories, but the Purple Panthers will have to prove that they can beat the top teams before they can be seen as a contender. They’ll get that chance this week against Gardiner and Sept. 29 against Leavitt.

The West looks to be up for grabs. Westbrook was 5-5 last fall, but began this year by drilling perennial power Mountain Valley, 30-0, then knocking off defending state champion Wells, 28-20. Senior running backs Ben Grant and Cale Bollig do most of the work on the ground, and Collin Joyce is a factor running or receiving. Wells graduated all but three starters, but Dante Fanning and Drew Shelley are the big backs in a powerful offense.

Greely opened the season with two lopsided victories. The Rangers run the triple option on offense, and quarterback Drew Hodge is also a dangerous passer. Marshwood, coming off a 2-6 season, has already matched that win total and could be a sleeper team. Mountain Valley, despite starting the season 0-2, could pose problems by the end of the season.

Class C
The Little Ten Conference is not the place to go if you want to see close games. Five teams started off the season 2-0, and all 10 of those wins were by at least 20 points.

The four big contenders are Bucksport, Foxcroft, John Bapst, and Orono. Bucksport has a powerful offense, with quarterback Matt Stewart and running back Nic Bishop the top weapons. Foxcroft returns running back Don Boyer and Ryan Rebar (8 TDs receiving and 8 INTs as a cornerback last fall).

John Bapst has impressive speed at the skill positions, but must replace the graduation of quarterback Deven Romain and his top two receivers. Orono has a great backfield tandem of Christian Mowrer (15.9 yards per carry this season) and Norton Revell (15.5 yards per catch).

The big story in the West was Oak Hill’s 33-7 victory over Yarmouth, which had won 24 consecutive games. That win cemented the Raiders, who were 3-6 in 2011, as a true contender in the Campbell Conference. Oak Hill has good size in the line for top running backs Alex Mace and Kyle Flaherty, both of whom are sophomores.

Yarmouth will still contend behind quarterback Brady Neujahr and a running game paced by Matt Klepinger and Thomas Lord. So will Maranacook, with quarterback Caleb Castonguay, a running and passing threat. Traip has only about 20 players on its roster, but two of them are stud running backs in Corey Aldecoa and Devon Draker. Dirigo and Winslow could also make a run.

Maine Statewide Top 10
1. Cheverus - Stags have outscored opponents 85-6 in two games.
2. Thornton - Golden Trojans coming off 67-7 pasting of Gorham, face No. 9 Bonny Eagle next.
3. Windham - QB Damien Shepard has four touchdowns running, two more passing.
4. Lawrence - Bulldogs have outscored opposition 65-0 in first halves of games this fall.
5. Scarborough - Red Storm, 3-6 last fall, stunned Bonny Eagle 35-18 last week.
6. Portland - Bulldogs didn’t get inside Cheverus 30 in 42-0 loss, but looked great against Massabesic.
7. Mt. Blue - Cougars beat Madison/Carrabec 41-28, but led 41-0 at half before pulling starters.
8. Leavitt - Hornets keep rolling with 36-0 blanking of Belfast.
9. Bonny Eagle - QB Tyson Goodale has ran or thrown for all nine of team’s touchdowns this fall.
10. Westbrook - Blue Blazes overpowered Mtn. Valley, then beat defending state champ Wells, 28-20.

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New England Roundup: Maine

June, 25, 2012
6/25/12
3:17
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Longtime Bangor High School boys' basketball coach Roger Reed reluctantly resigned recently after being informed by the administration to make a choice between coaching and serving in the legislature.

MaineLeonardi Reed, 73, submitted his resignation a day before winning the Republican primary to represent House District 23 in the Maine Legislature. Reed will face Democrat Richard Thomas in the Nov. 6 general election for the right to fill the seat formerly held by Rep. David E. Richardson, who is also a Republican.

Reed, who retired this spring after a 47-year career as a teacher, hoped to continue coaching the Rams. In 27 seasons he led them to eight Class A state championships. In a career than began at Bangor Christian Academy, Reed has a career record of 571-201, a .740 winning percentage. After going 7-11 in his first year at Bangor, Reed’s teams posted 26 straight winning season including a 14-6 mark last winter. The Rams won their eighth state title under Reed in 2011.

Reed wanted to continue coaching next season but was told Bangor principal Paul Butler that demands of time and travel to Augusta would be too great to do both jobs. The Legislature is in regular session during the winter months.

“Somewhere and sometime ago, it was decided that I wouldn’t be allowed to do both,” Red told the Bangor Daily News. “I really don’t think that it has anything to do with logistics. I was assured by all who encouraged me to run that I would have no reason to give up coaching.”

Butler, who played for Reed in the late 1980s, said he asked several people if someone could serve in both capacities and do justice to both jobs. He determined than it wasn’t “It was an honest, good-faith decision. I think Bangor High School athletes and our program deserve 100 percent of a person’s attention, and I just felt that it was untenable for somebody to do both,” he told the BDN.

“Once I made the decision, I waited until after the season and asked Roger to choose us,” Butler said. “I wanted, and offered, to have Roger back as coach and gave him until June to make that decision. I told him the only time I ever rooted against him was going into the primary.”

WESSEL WINS JOHN WILKIN AWARD
Scarborough High School senior Ben Wessel won the Dr. John Winkin Award, presented annually to the state’s top baseball player at the senior all-star game. Wessel sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament which prevented him from pitching the Red Storm in the second half of the season but he returned to the lineup as a designated hitter and helped the team to the Western Maine Class A title.

Wessel led the Southern Maine Activities Association in batting average (.486), slugging (.943), on-base percentage (.600), RBI (21), triples (4) and home runs (2). As a pitcher the right-hander went 6-0 with a 0.62 earned run average and struck out 45 batters in 34 innings.

He expects to undergo Tommy John surgery in July and will attend the University of Rhode Island this fall.

GEAUMONT NAMES MISS MAINE SOFTBALL
Thornton Academy senior Julia Geaumont could have won the Miss Maine Softball Award as a pitcher or a hitter. She excelled at both. Geaumont got the good news at last week’s senior all-star games. The award is presented annually by the Maine High School Softball Coaches Association.

This season Geaumont went 14-2 on the mound with an 0.84 earned run average and 136 strikeouts. At the plate, she batted .679 with 10 home runs and 38 RBI. Geaumont, who will attend Bowdoin College next fall, was also named Gatorade and Southern Maine Activities Association player of the year.

SANFORD NAMES NEW MASCOT
Soon after its boys track and field team won the Class A state championship, Sanford High School announced its new mascot.

Superintendent David Theoharides reported the new mascot will be the Spartans. Students in grades seven through 12 voted on four new nicknames — Spartans, Pride, Stampede and Cardinals. The Spartans claimed 587 votes to 423 for Pride, 202 for Stampede and 113 for Cardinals. The new mascot will go into effect starting with the 2012-2013 school year.

Sanford’s school committee voted 4-1 last month to retire the Redskins mascot, the last high school in the state with such a nickname.

STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Baseball and softball championships in four classes were decided on June 16 at venues in Bangor and Windham. Eastern Maine teams swept the softball championships while East and West split for the baseball titles.

Class A Baseball
Messalonskee 6, Scarborough 3: The Eagles took advantage of seven errors by the Red Storm to win their first Class A title. All six of Messalonskee’s runs were unearned. The Eagles turned two double plays including a memorable one in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Sam Dexter dove for a ball in the hole, relayed it to second to younger brother Jake who threw to first. Messalonskee finished at 15-5, winning its last 10 games.

Class B Baseball
Falmouth 2, Foxcroft 0: Ninth-place hitter Ryan Conley ripped a two-run double in the second inning to lead the Yachtsmen to their first state title since 1998 and their first in Class B. Starter Thomas Fortier pitched a complete game, holding the Ponies to two hits while striking out six. Falmouth finished at 17-3.

Class C Baseball
Dirigo 6, Calais 1: The Cougars took an early lead and senior Ben Holmes preserved it to give the Cougars their second title in three years. Dirigo took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second, the big hit a two-run double from Caleb Turner. Holmes finished with eight strikeouts in running his season record to 12-1. Dirigo finished at 19-1 overall while three-time reigning Eastern champion Calais closed at 18-2.

Class D Baseball
Bangor Christian 7, Buckfield 3: Sophomore Cody Collins drove in four runs on a pair of singles and a double to lead the Patriots to their first baseball title. The Eastern Maine champs scored five runs in the first inning en route to the win. They finished at 19-2 while Buckfield closed at 17-2.

Class A Softball
Cony 2, South Portland 0: Junior Sonja Morse pitched a one hitter and struck out 10 to lead the Rams to their first state title since 1983. Morse lost her no-hitter with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. She also issued a walk but both runners were picked off as she faced the minimum number of batters. Cecelia Fuller singled home both Cony runs in the fifth inning.

Erin Bogdanovich allowed three hits and struck out 13 for South Portland (17-3). Cony finished at 20-0.

Class B Softball
Old Town 4, Fryeburg 1: Junior Kendra Hayward struck out 15 and contributed a two-run double to lead the Coyotes to their first state championship. Hayward allowed three runs in four Eastern Maine games while striking out 38 batters in 28 innings for fifth-seeded Old Town. The Coyotes finished at 17-4 while defending Class B champion Fryeburg closed at 18-2.

Class C Softball
Bucksport 2, Dirigo 0: Cassidy Adams pitched a two-hitter to lead the Golden Bucks to their first Class C title. The Bucks, who dropped down a class this season, reached the Class B title game last year before losing to Fryeburg. They last won a Class B title in 2006 and have gone five for eight in championship games. The win completed a perfect season at 20-0.

Class D Softball
Penobscot Valley 4, Richmond 2: Jenna Hope’s two-run single in the third inning capped a three-run rally to lead the Howlers to their first state championship. Winning pitcher Kayla Dube allowed four hits, including three bunt singles, while striking out 14. Penobscot Valley finished at 19-1, while Richmond, playing in its third straight state title game, finished at 16-2.

LACROSSE
Class A Boys
Scarborough 9, Cheverus 4: Ryan Pallotta scored five goals as the Red Storm rolled to its third straight state championship. Scarborough finished at 14-1.

Class B Boys
Falmouth 7, North Yarmouth 4: Charlie Fay scored three goals to lead the yachtsmen to their second straight state championship. It was Falmouth’s third win this season against North Yarmouth and also the second straight time the Yachtsmen have beaten the Panthers in the state final.

Class A Girls
Scarborough 11, Brunswick 9: Mary Scott scored four goals to lead the Red Storm to their third consecutive state championship. Scarborough (15-1) also defeated Brunswick (14-2) in last year’s state final by a score of 13-11.

Waynflete 16, Freeport 5: Martha Veroneau had four goals and five assists to lead the Flyers, who were playing in their fourth straight championship game. Sadie Cole added five goals and Walker Foehl scored four for Waynflete (14-1) which rallied for wins against Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth in the regional tournament.

New England Roundup: Maine

June, 8, 2012
6/08/12
12:53
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Abbey Leonardi concluded her stellar high school running career last Saturday with a pair of wins at the State Class A track and field championships. The Kennebunk senior won the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races despite missing a month of training this spring with a strained tendon in her leg.

MaineLeonardi finished the 1,600 in 4 minutes, 56.87 seconds, a little more than five seconds off her state record pace in 2010. She caught Lawrence’s Erzsebet Nagy on the final lap and held her off down the stretch.

“I missed more than a month of training," Leonardi said, "so it was just more about being mentally tough."

Leonardi won 3,200 later in the meet in 10:45.49, again a few seconds off the state record she set in 2010. In four years, Leonardi has posted four cross country individual championships and 12 outdoor track titles. She holds state records in 1,600, mile, 3,000, 3,200 and the two mile.

She is widely considered Maine’s best female high school runner since Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won the inaugural women’s marathon at the 1984 Olympics. This year Leonardi finished fourth in the prestigious Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals, setting a PR of 17:35.30 in the 5,000 meter event.

“What we’ve tried to do is not go too crazy with her in high school and chase every big meet,” her father Jack said.

Abbey will attend the University of Oregon next fall on a running scholarship and will step on campus with plenty of gas left in her tank. She hasn’t run indoor track in high school nor has she over-trained.

“I actually think she can get a lot better,” her dad said. “We’ve tried not to stress her too much. I think Abbey’s at the low end of the top kids in high school in terms of mileage.”

Her dad got her started in running and said he got up to speed in training methods as she progressed. He credits middle school coach Mike LeBlanc as an important influence. As she’s grown older, Leonardi has trained with Kristen Barry, a former 2:40 marathon runner and Falmouth’s Sheri Piers, the top American female finisher in this year’s Boston marathon.

“She definitely has some physical talent but she works as hard as anybody at it,” jack Leonardi said of his daughter. “She’s really methodical about what she does. She’s pretty educated about what she’s doing.”

Leonardi won’t complete in this weekend’s New England meet in Saco, but will follow a training regimen to get her ready for cross country season next fall. Her only appearance in the new England cross country meet was her freshman year when she finished first. Oregon is one of the country’s strongest track and cross country school. Last fall, the Ducks placed fifth in the NCAA cross country meet and return five of their top seven runners.

“She had lots of opportunities (to attend other schools),” Jack said, “but she definitely is choosing to jump into the big pond. If she didn’t give the biggest stage a chance, she wished she would have.”

Leonardi, who has a twin sister, is a straight A student who also loves to cook.

“She’ll probably end up studying business and hope to apply that in some food area,” her father said.

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New England Roundup: Maine

May, 13, 2012
5/13/12
11:25
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It didn’t take Luke Fernandes long to get on the baseball radar screen, a result you could say of the radar gun.

MainePlaying in a Perfect Game tournament in New Jersey for pro and college scouts, Fernandes clocked 93 on the radar gun, a pretty big deal when you consider he had yet to begin his sophomore year at Marshwood High School. Later that summer, playing at the Lynn Invitational in Lynn, Mass., Fernandes and his fastball caught the eye of a Boston College coach who happened to be at the tournament.

Two days later he visited the campus and talked to head coach Mike Gambino. He had yet to play his sophomore year yet was offered a 3-for-4 scholarship and made a verbal commitment to play for the Eagles. Now a senior at Marshwood, Fernandes expects to report to Chestnut Hill this fall, unless he receives a call from a Major League team looking to take him fairly high in the draft. He’s already filled out surveys for 10 professional teams.

“That will be a decision he has to make,” said Eric Fernandes, Luke’s father and high school coach. “We really believe in Coach Gambino at BC.”

Fernandes, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound, right-hander, experienced arm trouble last year and didn’t pitch because of weakness in his shoulder.

He came back through rehabilitation but then developed some elbow soreness. His dad had him on a 70 pitch count when he faced defending Class A state champion Cheverus a couple of weeks ago, but after a shaky start he settled down and pitched into the seventh inning, finishing with 101 pitches.

Marshwood and Fernandes won the game 6-3 after he fell behind 3-0 early but settled down and pitched hitless ball through the middle innings.

“The first inning I just had the wrong approach,” he said. “I wasn’t spotting fastballs and I wasn’t changing speeds effectively.”

Eric Fernandes said Luke’s best pitch is his slider.

“It can be devastating on a right-hander as well as burying on a lefty’s hands,” Eric Fernandes said.

Fernandes throws a two-seam fastball to create movement on his pitches. He worked with former Red Sox reliever Bob Stanley in a Stratham, N.H. for a few years to develop his repertoire.

“Luke and he gravitated toward each other,” Eric said. “Bob really got him command of that two-seamer.”

Luke plays shortstop, or sometimes first base to save his arm, and is capable of playing college ball as a position player as well as a pitcher. Boston College has agreed to take a look at him in the field as well as on the mound.

“There’s something to be said for going out and playing every day,” said Luke, who admitted he’s a pitcher at heart.

“(It’s) the one-on-one stuff with the hitter and having better stuff than he does,” he said.

Fernandes has also developed a changeup which remains a work in progress.

“The only three well-hit balls off him have been on changeups,” Eric said. “He left it up.”

The Hawks are 7-2 and in first place in the Class A West standings. In addition to Fernandes, they also pitch Jake Verrill, who is headed to West Point next fall to play football and possibly baseball. Troy Pappas, who is headed to Bates College, also pitches while catcher Matthew Bernier made the Under Armor tea that is headed to Florida.

Fernandes hasn’t accepted any offers to visit schools since committing to Boston College. He likes the idea of “just knowing I had a place to go.”

A four-year player on the basketball team, baseball is his first love and his been since he was young kid.

“Baseball for me has been kind of where I can go and leave everything else (behind),” he said. “Winning games and competing.”

A, SORT OF, LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
With an enrollment of just 110 students it’s sometimes difficult for Van Buren High School to fill out spring baseball and softball rosters.

The baseball team played with the minimum nine players in 2005 and 2006 and reached the Eastern Maine Class D final in 2006. They Crusaders didn’t have enough to field a team in 2009. This spring, the seasons of the baseball and softball teams were again in jeopardy.

The softball team, it turned out, didn’t have enough players for a varsity team, while the baseball team had just 11 players.

Boys aren’t allowed to play softball under Maine Prinicpals’ Association rules, but girls can play baseball. And three softball team members — senior Naomi Maldonado, sophomore Kayla Durette and freshman Amanda Sytulek — decided to join the baseball team. Maldonado, in fact, doubled and singled in the team’s opening day 13-3 loss to Wisdom.

“I wanted to play, I was pretty disappointed when they said there wasn’t going to be a softball team,” Maldonado told the Bangor Daily News. “I thought it was a good opportunity. I didn’t have to think long about doing it at all.”

The girls were accepted withouth protest by the boys on the team who prefer a full roster to none at all.

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