Boston High School: Kennebunk

Lucas leaves championship legacy at Cony (Maine)

February, 13, 2014
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When Ben Lucas started classes at Cony High School, the Rams hadn’t won a football state championship since 1932. That streak stayed intact through his junior year. But as a senior, under coach Robby Vachon and offensive coordinator B.L. Lippert, Lucas threw for 3,357 yards and a state record 41 touchdowns. He capped that by throwing for 347 yards – 307 of them in the second half – and directing a game-winning 99-yard drive in the final minutes to defeat Kennebunk in the Class B state final. Lucas finished his career with 7,575 yards passing, and a state-record 89 touchdowns.

MaineHe also won the Fitzpatrick Trophy, the award given annually to the top senior football player in the state.

Lucas is heading to the University of Maine, where he’ll be one of five quarterbacks on the Black Bears’ roster. Lucas took some time to answer questions about his magical season, why he chose UMaine, and why he’s been a three-sport athlete throughout high school:

Q: Cony hadn’t won a state championship in a long time before this season. Was that history something you were aware of when you were playing as a freshman and a sophomore?

A: “It had been something I was aware of, but with the history of Cony Football, it seemed like we could never reach that goal until my junior year when Coach Vachon and Coach Lippert reminded us of it daily. But breaking huddles with it, and putting signs around the weight room that said 1932 pushed us to work harder.”

Q: What are some of the things that made the Cony football team successful this season?

A: “I think one of the things that doesn’t get talked about as to why we were so good was the bond we had as teammates. It was truly a brotherhood. We always hear about our team from a playing point of view, but the biggest reason why we were so good was how close we were. And how much we trusted each other and had each other’s back. And still, now even football has ended, we are just as close as during the season.”

Q: How often do you think about the state game against Kennebunk? Are we talking every day? What do you think about when you think about that game?

A: “I think about the state game every day and talk about it every day. And sure I always talk and think about the 99-yard drive. But was really special was the buzz of the community after. How we really united the town of Augusta, and the bus ride back, and getting a parade and police escort through town, showing up at Cony at 1 a.m., with our whole food court packed with people, and just seeing the support we got.”

Q: When you wrote your speech for the Fitzpatrick Trophy banquet, what were the things you really wanted to make sure you included?

A: “I really wanted to make sure I talked about my teammates, family and the process Cony football went through to get where we are now, and that we want to stay here.”

Q: A lot of players who are being recruited by Division I colleges in one sport will focus only on that sport. Yet you play basketball, high school baseball, and Legion baseball. Why is that important to you to play those other sports?

A: “I take pride in being an all-around athlete and I love all those other sports. Being a three-sport athlete is a cool feeling, and all the other sports help me become a better football player -- and I've been playing for so long, it’s hard to give up.”

Q: What are your plans for college? What’s going into that decision for you?

A: “I will be attending UMaine, majoring in either politics or government, as well as being on the football team. Maine was the best fit for me because I want to see how good I can be. It's the best school talent-wise I was being recruited by so I want to go there, work hard and prove that I can play at the next level.”

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

June, 8, 2012
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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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Peabody's Rocha is Gatorade X-C Runner of the Year

January, 12, 2012
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In its 27th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN HS, today announced Catarina Rocha of Peabody High School as its 2011-12 Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. Rocha is the first Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year to be chosen from Peabody High School.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the racecourse, distinguishes Rocha as Massachusetts’s best high school girls cross country runner. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year award to be announced in January.

The 5-foot-4 junior captured third place at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional championships this past season with a time of 18:19.9. Rocha also qualified for the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships where she finished in seventh place, crossing the line in 17:38. The 2011-12 Boston Globe All-Scholastic co-Runner of the Year, she won the Division I individual state championship with a time of 18:12.

Rocha has maintained an A average in the classroom. An officer in her school’s student council, she has volunteered locally as a peer tutor on behalf of Challenger Sports, an area physical activity program for children with special needs.

“Catarina Rocha is a leader on her team and in the classroom,” said Peabody athletic director Phil Sheridan. “I have had the opportunity to watch her in all facets of life and she is very serious about her training, her studies and her commitment to helping others.”

Other New England recipients:
CONNECTICUT - REID WATSON, GLASTONBURY
The 5-foot-4 senior raced to the State Open individual championship this past season with a time of 18:35. Watson also won the Class LL state title, breaking the tape in 19:03, and took first at the Hartford Riverfront Invitational, the Stratton Brook Invitational and the Central Connecticut Conference Championships. Watson finished 15th at the New England Cross Country Championships and earned 25th at the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional championships.

Watson has maintained a 3.64 GPA in the classroom. A peer tutor in her school, she has volunteered locally on behalf of youth sports programs and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in addition to fundraising to benefit the American Cancer Society.

“Having Reid on the team is like having another coach,” said Glastonbury head coach Brian Collins. “She’s been a great inspiration to all levels of runners. She took over a young and inexperienced team and helped guide them to a very successful season.”

Watson remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.

MAINE - ABBEY LEONARDI, KENNEBUNK
The 5-foot-1 senior raced to a fourth consecutive Class A individual state championship this past season with a time of 18:27.19. The state’s three-time returning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Leonardi placed second at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional championships in 18:05.7 in addition to finishing fourth at the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in 17:35.3. Also the four-time Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year as named by the Maine Sunday Telegram, she captured first place at the Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions and Western Maine Class A Regional Cross Country Championship Meet this past fall. With her three Gatorade State Track & Field Athlete of the Year trophies, Leonardi becomes the first athlete from any state to win Gatorade honors seven times in the award program’s 27-year history.

Leonardi has maintained an A average in the classroom. In addition to donating her time as a member of her school’s Captain’s Club to promote healthy lifestyle choices among her peers and area youth student-athletes, she has volunteered as part of fundraising efforts on behalf of displaced civilians in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

“Abbey is the most focused athlete I have seen through my many years in this profession,” said Kennebunk High head coach Mike Dinehart. “Her practice regimen is a model for any athlete who wants to succeed. Not only does she challenge herself to garner the requisite hours to perform at such a high level, she is also able to apply that same work ethic to academics.”

Leonardi has verbally committed to an athletic scholarship at the University of Oregon beginning this fall.

NEW HAMPSHIRE - COURTNEY HAWKINS, MILFORD
The 5-foot-1 junior raced to the Meet of Champions individual state championship this past season with a time of 18:34.1. The Runner of the Year as named by the Nashua Telegraph, Hawkins placed 13th at the New England Cross Country Championships in 18:52 in addition to finishing 30th at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional championships in 19:35.8. Hawkins captured first place at the Manchester Invitational large school race. She finished 21st at the 2010 Meet of Champions as a sophomore.

Hawkins has maintained a 3.71 GPA in the classroom. A member of the National Honor Society and National Art Honor Society, she has volunteered locally at a summer day camp, as part of a holiday gift-giving campaign and on behalf of the St. Joseph Hospital Breast Care Center. Hawkins has also donated her time in association with conservation land cleanup efforts, with Project Linus to benefit needy children and as a youth athletic instructor. She has served as a fundraiser for the Gate City Striders track program, New England Pediatric Care and the American Cancer Society.

“Courtney is a true gem,” said Milford High head coach Mike Wright. “Not only is she a great athlete, but she is extremely coachable, dedicated, and loved by her opponents.”

RHODE ISLAND - MOLLY KEATING, LA SALLE ACADEMY
The 5-foot-4 senior raced to a third consecutive All-State Meet individual championship this past season with a time of 18:25, leading the Rams to second place as a team. A three-time First Team All-State selection as named by the Providence Journal, Keating placed second at the New England Cross Country Championships in 18:11 in addition to finishing 10th at the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional in 19:09.9. She also captured first place at the 2009 and 2010 Class A meet as a sophomore and junior.

Keating has maintained an A average in the classroom. She has volunteered locally on behalf of her church, her school’s peer-mentoring program and multiple charity-fundraiser road races.

“One of the things I can easily say about her is that throughout her entire career, she’s had a tremendous, tremendous work ethic,” said Jim Doyle, head boys cross country coach at Bishop Hendricken High. “At one point, she had a terrible setback when she suffered a stress fracture, but she overcame that, rebounded again this year and was outstanding all year long. That’s the way she’s been for four years. I’ve always been impressed with her.”

Keating remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.

VERMONT- ELLE PURRIER, RICHFORD
The 5-foot-3 junior raced to her second straight Division 3 individual state championship this past season, breaking the tape in 19:11.9. The state’s returning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Purrier won the New England Cross Country Championships with a time of 18:01 and the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional championship in 18:30.6. She also earned titles at the Essex Invitational, the Harwood Invitational, the Burlington Invitational and the Northern Vermont Athletic Conference Championships.

Purrier has maintained a 3.93 GPA in the classroom. She has volunteered locally on behalf of youth track programs and has delivered care baskets to elderly residents of the community.

“Elle is able to push herself unlike any student-athlete I’ve ever met,” said Richford head coach Andrew Hathaway. “The push comes from within, whether or not there’s a watch on her.”

New England Roundup: Maine

January, 2, 2012
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Three players who have won state championships were recently selected as finalists for the Fitzpatrick Trophy, awarded annually to the top high school football player in the state.

MaineSpencer Cooke of Cheverus, Louis DiTomasso of Wells and Jordan Hersom of Leavitt were the leading vote-getters among the 12 semifinalists who were nominated last month. The winners will be awarded the trophy Jan. 15 at a banquet at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland.

Cooke is the second straight Cheverus player to be a finalist. Last year, quarterback Peter Gwilym won the Fitzpatrick Trophy after leading
the Stags to their first Class A state championship in 25 years. Cooke played a big part in the state final, scoring four touchdowns.

A running back/defensive back, Cooke rushed for 1,117 yards and scored 19 touchdowns this year. In the eighth game of the regular season
against Deering he broke a bone in his lower leg that kept him from the regional playoffs.

He made a brief appearance in this year’s state title game, which the Stags won going away, 49-7.

DiTomasso, a fullback/linebacker, led Wells to the Class B state championship in which the Warriors stopped Leavitt and Hersom, 21-13. He rushed for 116 yards in that game, finishing with 1,350 yards and 19 touchdowns for the season. He also recorded 133 tackles on defense.

Hersom was a four-year starter for the Hornets, moving to quarterback his junior year. He started both ways when the Hornets won the Class B state title his sophomore year and led them to state title appearances the last two seasons. Over that span, he’s 22-2. The quarterback/safety rushed for 10 touchdowns and competed 72 percent of his passes for an additional 16 touchdowns. Also had 56 tackles and two interceptions. Hersom’s cousin Jack Hersom won the Fitzpatrick Trophy as a quarterback for Lawrence High School in 2007.

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New England Roundup: Maine

October, 26, 2011
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Madison Memorial High School senior Seth Sweet has established himself as the top high school golfer in the state.

MaineSweet recently won his second straight Class C state individudal title, shooting a 2-under par 70, the lowest in any class. Last summer he was one of two Maine golfers to qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur. He also finished fourth in the Maine Amateur last year and, when he was 12, he was the youngest qualifier ever for that tournament. He recently answered questions about himself and the game he loves.

Q: How did you get started in golf?

A: "My dad introduced me into the game when I was 2 years old. He brought me out to a little par three course with a plastic set of Little Tikes golf clubs. I didn’t play that often but he brought me to the golf course just enough so I could really get a liking for this game. After a while I knew there was something about this game that was special and I knew it would be able to take me places."

Q: When did you first get hooked on the game?

SWEET
SWEET
A: "I first became serious around the age of 10. I played my first tournament when I was 7 but did not realize what it took to really become an elite golfer. I started playing several tournaments when I turned 10, and began to practice a lot harder. I tried to take my game to the next level and set different levels of goals that I needed to achieve."

Q: Who have been your greatest influences in the game?

A: "My dad has definitely been the biggest influence in my game. He taught me everything I needed to know to become who I am today. He made it so I could play in every tournament I wanted to play in, and would do everything for me. My mother has also been there supporting me and always telling me that if I want it I can get it. She is always there to watch me play tournaments, and I couldn’t do it without them. My brother Zack also has been there to push me as he is a good golfer and always taught me how to act, as well as made me the best I could ever be. My swing coach has also been able to bring me to the tip top in my game and has taught me how to play this game like the pros.

Q: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date?

A: "I believe my greatest accomplishment has been making the U.S. Junior Amateur in Bremerton, Washington where I played two great days to make a playoff to make the cut for match play. Unfortunately, I missed the playoff, but was the proudest to place 55th best junior in the nation. I may not have met my goal, but was very pleased with how I played."

Q: How often do you play and practice?

A: "I play every day and practice every day. In order to be the best you have to have the club in your hand acting like it is your lifeline."

Q: What do you work on?

A: "Lately I work on the short game because I am able to hit the ball on the green, but where I am going to save strokes is making the putts for birdies. I will also work on hitting the ball in different shapes, I usually hit a draw but I understand that I need to be able to hit the cut to be one of the best as well. I believe that short game is where the pros make it look easy and win the tournaments."

Q: Where will you attend school next year?

A: "I have recently just verbally committed to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia."

Q: How did this come about?

A: "I had a friend from Rhode Island who is a freshman there and had told the coach about me. He must have put in a good word for me because the next week I got a call from the coach and it eventually led to an official visit offer. I visited the campus and fell in love with it and
fell in love with the golf facilities this school has to offer."

Q: What are your short and long-term goals in the game?

A: "My short term goal for golf is to really become a better player and win my state amateur, and qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur again. My long term goals are to become a golf professional and play on the PGA tour, I do realize this will be a tough task but I am ready to make a run for it. I also want to be in a scoring spot all four years in college and be a key asset in our successful team.

Q: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

A: "My strengths are definitely being able to drive the ball, chip the ball and putt the ball. I hit the ball about 290 yards down the middle and my short game has grown incredibly and improved greatly. I also am able to keep a great state of mind while playing golf which is to my advantage. I believe my weakness is paying too much attention to other people, I shouldn’t watch my competitors, but I do and get caught up in their game a little too much."

Q: Who is your favorite pro golfer and why?

A: "My favorite player used to be Tiger Woods because I idolized his work ethic, he won his tournaments by out-working his competitors and there was no question that he did every week. I also loved watching how he worked on the golf course he made himself expect the best of the competitors so he would not be surprised when they hit a good shot. My new favorite player is Bubba Watson, I enjoy how he hits the ball so long and is changing the game with his stride in great length. I also like how he has fun while he is playing and is very personable while he is playing. It is truly an awesome thing for him to be able to enjoy the game the way he does."

Q: What other activities or sports do you enjoy?

A: "I enjoy playing basketball with a passion; it is a very fun game for me and keeps me in shape during my long winter up in Maine. I enjoy running, and weight lifting as it keeps me in shape and I enjoy doing that every day."

Q: What are your plans for the summer before college?

A: "I plan on playing in 5-10 golf tournaments and practice my short game and the little details golf demands you to do. I am going to play in the big tournaments in the state and going to qualify for some USGA events. I just want to keep my competitive edge and make my game in fine tune for the fall college season."

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New England Roundup: Maine

October, 11, 2011
10/11/11
2:04
PM ET
Paula Doughty is in her 31st year as field hockey coach at Skowhegan Area High School. She’s posted a career record of 414 wins, 80 losses and 17 ties and her teams have captured 12 Class A state championships, including last year’s. Prior to losing in the state final in 2009, the Indians had reeled off eight state titles in a row.

MaineDoughty was named National Field Hockey High School Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2008 and more than 80 of her players have gone on to play in college. One of her players has been a first-team national All-American while two have made second team All-American and 22 have been regional All Americans.

Q: How did you get into coaching?

A: "I was in college from ‘70-74 and I officiated. I graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington and student taught in Skowhegan. In August they called me and said there was a job opening and they also needed a field hockey coach. I played in high school and I officiated so I had quite a lot of experience and I knew the game."

Q: What attracts you to the sport?

A: "It’s evolved into a really fast, fabulous sport. It’s just become better and better. First we lost the offsides, advancing became incidental and the obstruction rule is lenient today. In field hockey it takes years to develop the stickwork to be able to play. I also like it, and this sounds sexist, because it’s a women’s sport in the United States."

Q: When did Skowhegan turn the corner?

A: "Probably in the late ‘80’s. We were really good in the ‘70s, then soccer came in. I was really hurting for athletes. All the athletes went to soccer but then it balanced out."

Q: How has the program stayed so strong?

A: "I work very hard. I have three of our four coaches who have worked with me forever. I would say a shared coaching philosophy and consistency. We do the same thing K through 12 and I work with everybody K to 12."

Q: How big is the youth program?

A: "It’s growing, but it’s growing statewide, it’s not just us. Today we had a tournament for fourth, fifth and sixth graders and there were 12 teams here and every town brought 30 kids. One thing about field hockey in Maine, there’s a lot of opportunities and we can compete. It’s hard for Maine kids to compete in a lot of things but in field hockey we’re doing really well. A lot of kids feel entitled but Maine kids aren’t like that. They work really hard."

Q: How many of your players have played in college?

A: "We’ve had about 80 kids play in college. My first player was Kim Jewell Bodwell in ‘78 and she played at the University of Maine. Our first Division I player was Wendy Obert in 1989 and she played at Northeastern. Right now, we have nine (playing in college) and we have three seniors who are going D-1 next year."

Q: How has the game changed?

A: "It’s changed in every way. It’s faster, it’s more skilled. The amount of penalties are nothing what they used to be. You’ve got to be very, very skilled. It’s fun to watch. Today the game is a turf game. We play on turf as much as we can. It’s no longer a grass game. We practice in the gym a lot. Our field is as close to turf as you can get, but it’s still grass."

Q: How is this year’s team?

A: "It’s a great team. The last 14 years have been great teams. The kids I have now are much more versatile. Even five or 10 years ago, they were one-dimensional ... Most of my kids I can put in any position. Messalonskee is very good. They’re going to be our biggest competition in the state. It’s too bad we’re both in Eastern Maine. But in sports you can’t take anybody for granted."

Q: How long do you want to coach?

A: "I’ll coach as long as I think I can. I’ll retire from teaching in a while but I’ll keep coaching. I’m smart enough to know if I’m not as good as I was."

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New England Roundup: Maine

June, 17, 2011
6/17/11
5:15
PM ET
Kennebunk High School junior Abbey Leonardi not only set a goal to repeat as 3,200-meter champion at last Saturday’s New England Track and Field championships, she was intent on breaking the meet record.

MaineWhen the field started too slowly, Leonardi went to the front and stayed there, finishing in 10 minutes, 19.03 seconds to beat the old record by more than six seconds.

“I was hoping I wouldn’t have to lead from the start,” Leonardi said. “At the 200 I felt the pace was slow. I was trying to run between 5:08 and 5:12 for the first mile.’

Leonardi had competed against many of the runners in the field and hoped they would push her a little more.

“I definitely had the record in the back of my head,” she said. “Last year I was only a second off.”

Next up for Leonardi is the New Balance Outdoor Nationals this weekend in Greensboro, N.C. Last year she placed fourth in the 3,200 in 10:26.

After that, Leonardi plans to take a short break before building a base for the cross country season.

At 5-foot-1 and 100 pounds, Leonardi doesn’t appear to be a lion on the track or cross country trails. But she emerged as the premier female high school distance runner in New England shortly after winning the N.E. cross country title her freshman year. She’s repeated since then in New England while dominating fellow runners in Maine.

Leonardi said by the end of either the track or cross country season, she’s ready for a change but at the same time admits longer distances are her forte. To that end, she and her father Jack are taking a conservative approach to her training.

“The most important thing in my mind is not to try to go too crazy this year, from getting too aggressive, too early in her career,” Jack said. “Nothing has been more important than that.”

Jack Leonardi oversees his daughter’s training in a very general sense, even less so since she become older and more knowledgeable.

“I oversee what goes on,” Jack said. “But her coaches are pretty much her coaches. She pretty much plans out her life. She knows what she needs to do.”

Leonardi placed second in the in Footlocker Northeast Cross Country Regionals last season to Ainsley Cuffe of Cornwall-on Hudson, N.Y. Cuffe went on to win the Footlocker Nationals last fall while Leonardi placed 16th.

She’’ll have Cuffe to contend again with this fall and would need to make a vast improvement to catch her.

“I think she’s pretty far ahead,” Leonardi said. “That would be a 20 or 25 second improvement.”

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New England Roundup: Maine

December, 16, 2010
12/16/10
2:02
PM ET
Thirteen semifinalists have been selected for the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy, symbolic of the state’s top high school senior football player.

MaineBallots were mailed to media and members of the football community and will narrowed to three finalists which will be announced Dec. 19. In addition to football accomplishments, grades, character and extracurricular activities are also factors in the award.

The winner will be announced at the Fiztpatrick Trophy Banquet on Jan. 16 in Portland.

The finalists are:
  • Kyle Bishop, Waterville — The QB.safety averaged 6.8 yards per carry and passed for 902 yards. He also kicked 19 of 21 PATs and was in on 73 tackles. He carries a GPA of 3.47.
  • Max Cloutier, Leavitt — The center/defensive tackle made 95 tackles and was credited with 12 1/2 sacks. He added 49 PATs and kicked a field goal. He carries an 85 grade average.
  • Michael Cyr, Scarborough — The two way end caught 17 passes for 336 yards and eight TDs. On defense, he made 73 tackles and recovered three fumbles. He carries an 89.9 GPA.
  • Ethan Drigotas, Kennebunk — The receiver/defensive back caught 36 passes for 659 yards and averaged 5.5 yards a carry as a halfback and scored seven TDs. He carries a 92 GPA.
  • Luke Duncklee, Cony — The quarterback passed for 1,442 yards and rushed for another 1,147, accounting for 25 touchdowns in all. He is a top 10 member of his class.
  • Nicholas Gagne, Biddeford – The fullback/linebacker rushed for 973 yards and scored 15 TDs. On defense he made 40 tackles, 13 for sacks. He carries a 3.5 GPA.
  • Peter Gwilym, Cheverus — The QB/safety led the Stags to their first Class A title since 1986. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry and scored 13 TDs. He also passed for seven TDs. On defense he made 64 tackles and made four interceptions. H carries a 3.89 GPA.
  • Jonathan Haws, Hampden — The QB/safety is one of the most prolific players in school history. He carries a GPA of 94.
  • Cam Kaurbis, Mountain Valley — The QB/defensive back led the Falcons to the Class B state title, passing for 873 yards and seven touchdowns. On defense, he had 21 tackles and eight interceptions. He carries a 98.8 GPA.
  • Caleb Kenney, Portland — The FB/TE/LB made 44 tackles. He rushed for 328 yards and four TDs and caught 10 passes for 165 yards. He carries a 95 GPA.
  • Nicholas Proscia, Yarmouth — The FB.LB totaled 707 yards and nine touchdowns and played on all the special teams. He carries an 89.5 GPA and helped the Clippers to the Class B state title.
  • Jamie Ross, Deering — The quarterback threw for 1,511 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for an additional 912 yards and 19 TDs. He also punted and kicked 36 PATs and a field goal. He carries a 90 GPA.
  • Josh Woodward, Thornton — The WB/DB averaged 8.6 yards per carry and scored nine touchdowns. He also completed 52 percent of his passes for nine TDs. He carries a 3.3 GPA.

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New England Roundup: Maine

November, 17, 2010
11/17/10
3:02
PM ET
State football championships in Class A, B and C are on the line Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

MaineHere is a rundown of the games:

Class A, Cheverus (11-0) vs. Bangor (10-1), 2:30 p.m.
Both teams squeaked by in regional finals last week. Cheverus downed Deering 35-34 when a last-second 36-yard field goal attempt by Deering’s Jamie Ross missed by two feet. And Bangor won 28-25 against Lewiston when the Blue Devils gambled on fourth and one from their own 10-yard line with two and half minutes left. Bangor held and scored the game-winning touchdown to seal the win.

Cheverus is making its first appearance in a state game since it won in 1985. The Stags, however, have made a rapid climb in the past four years under Coach John Wolfgram who has won seven state titles at Gardiner and South Portland and is the state’s winningest coach. They rely on the passing and running of quarterback Peter Gwilym who has accounted for 21 touchdowns. Running back Evan Jendrasko has rushed for 13 touchdowns. Equally important is the play of the Stags’ special teams which has accounted for several scores.

Bangor has a history on state title appearances, having won five since the current format began in 1967 while also losing in the state game eight times. The Rams lost to Windham in the state final last year and to Bonny Eagle in 2004. They last won a championship in 2001. They led the East in points scored behind a balanced attack that features the passing and running of 6-foot-6 quarterback Joe Seccareccia and the running of Josiah Hartley. They’ve combined for 36 touchdowns. Included in that number are eight receiving scores by Nick Sherwood.

Class B, Leavitt (11-0) vs. Mountain Valley (11-0), 11 a.m.
Leavitt defeated Gardiner, 27-7, in the East regional game last week while Mountain Valley shut out Wells 18-0. The shutout was the seventh of the season for the Falcons who have allowed just 30 points in 11 games. Quarterback Cam Kaubris leads the offense along with running backs Josh Allen and Taylor Bradley who have combined for 29 touchdowns. The Falcons are looking for their fourth Class B title in seven, last winning in 2008.

Leavitt is the defending Class B state champion and is riding the state’s longest winning streak at 23 games. The Hornets allowed 81 points during the regular season and outscored their three playoff opponents 110-23. Junior quarterback Jordan Hersom accounted for 26 touchdowns in the regular season and an additional five in the playoffs. Running back Jake Ouellette is a complement, having scored 15 touchdowns.

Class C, Stearns (11-0) vs. Yarmouth (11-0), 6 p.m.
Stearns defeated John Bapst in the regional final 26-7 while Yarmouth downed Lisbon 14-12 thanks to a late 65-yard scoring run from freshman quarterback Brady Neujahr.

Stearns, located in Millinocket, has the longest trip of any of the state finalists at 200 miles. It’s doubtful the Minutemen will complain too much, though, since this is their first trip to the state championship game since winning in 1998. The team is both the northernmost as well as the smallest football playing school in the state. This season they carry a roster of just 29 players. Stearns also features one the toughest defenses in Class C, having allowed 49 points. Running back William Eurich leads the offense with 18 touchdowns.

Yarmouth is playing just its fourth year of varsity football, yet the Clippers excelled under coach Jim Hartman with an offense that led the state in the regular season with 391 points. Four players — Neujahr, Anders Overhaug, Nate Pingitore and Nick Proscia — have scored 10 or more touchdowns this season. Neujahr has passed for eight touchdowns and rushed for 10. A win by the Clippers would give them a unique double this fall since the soccer team won the state title last weekend. A win by the football team would complete unbeaten seasons for both.

FOOTBALL TOP 10
1. Cheverus
2. Bangor
3. Deering
4. Bonny Eagle
5. Lewiston
6. Mtn. Valley
7. Lawrence
8. Leavitt
9. Stearns
10. Yarmouth

MIKE LANDRY AWARD
Scarborough football coach Lance Johnson recently won the Mike Landry Award, given annually to the top coach in the Southern Maine Activities Association. Johnson led the Red Storm to a 7-1 regular-season record, its best ever, as well as its first playoff victory.

LOOKING FOR RARE DOUBLES
The Bangor and Yarmouth football teams will look to duplicate the success of their soccer teams in state championship games this weekend. No Maine high school has ever won a football and soccer championship in the same year. The Bangor soccer team defeated Portland 3-2 for the Class A title while Yarmouth won the Class B crown with a 5-0 win against Ellsworth.

Yarmouth can also complete an unbeaten season for both teams if it stops Stearns in Saturday’s Class C football championship game.

SOCCER TITLES AWARDED
Soccer titles in four classes were decided earlier this month.

In boys Class A, Bangor downed Portland 3-2 to win its second title overall and first since 2006. In girls Class a, Scarborough won its first state title with a 3-0 win against Bangor. The Red Storm allowed only one goal all season.

In Class B, the Yarmouth boys completed a 17-0-1 season with a 5-0 victory against Eastern Maine champion Ellsworth. The Falmouth girls won their second title in three years and eighth overall with a 1-0 win over Caribou in a game decided on a penalty kick.

In Class C, the Fort Kent boys downed North Yarmouth Academy to win their first state championship. Sacopee Valley won the girls' title with a 2-1 overtime win against Fort Kent.

In Class D, the Richmond girls defeated Van Buren 1-0 for their seventh state title. Bangor Christian won the boys title with a 5-2 victory against Richmond.

DURGIN PLACES 2ND
Cheverus junior Emily Durgin finished second at last Saturday’s New England cross country meet in Thetford, Vt. Durgin, who won the title last year, finished 12 seconds behind Linda Crevoiserat of Glastonbury, Conn.

Durgin placed second her freshman year behind Kennebunk’s Abbey Leonardi, who skipped this year’s meet to concentrate on the Foot Locker Regionals the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Last fall, both Durgin and Leonardi qualified for the Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego.

New England Roundup: Maine

November, 4, 2010
11/04/10
1:11
PM ET
One upset and another near-upset marked the opening round of the Class A football playoffs last week.

MaineIn the Southern Maine Activities Association (SMAA) quarterfinals, top-seeded Cheverus needed to rally for a pair of second-half touchdowns to defeat defending state champion Windham 34-27. The Stags trailed 27-14 before putting three touchdowns on the board, the first a 21 yard pass from Peter Gwilym to Louie DiStasio.

Evan Jendrasko evened the score with a 1-yard run and Gwilym completed the comeback with a scoring pass to Jack Bushey. Gwilym completed a 11 of 18 passes for 176 yards and four touchdowns.

In other SMAA quarterfinal games, fifth-seeded Scarborough knocked off No. 4 Biddeford 48-14 and third-seeded Deering downed No. 5 Thornton Academy 56-18.

In the Pine Tree Conference quarterfinals, No. 8 Brunswick upset No. 1 Lawrence for the second year in a row, beating the Bulldogs 14-13 on their home field. The visiting Dragons trailed 13-0 before rallying for a pair of scores, the second a 34-yard option pass from Keith Kitchens to Donald Benbow.

In other PTC games, second-seeded Bangor shut out No. 7 Edward Little 16-0, fourth-seeded Lewiston topped No. 5 Messalonskee 42-13 and No. 3 Mt. Blue edged No. 6 Cony 20-12. Cony quarterback Luke Duncklee rushed for two touchdowns, giving him 18 for the season. The senior rushed for 1,201 yards this season and also passed for 1,512 yards and eight touchdowns. Over the past two seasons, Duncklee has accounted for 50 touchdowns, rushing and passing, and 4,805 total yards.

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New England Roundup: Maine

September, 22, 2010
9/22/10
9:37
PM ET
Performances by a number of running backs highlighted Week 3 of the Maine high school football season.

MaineThe fledging co-operative program between Calais and Woodland high schools took its lumps last season in the Class C Little Ten Conference, but is off to a 3-0 start this season, thanks in large part to running back Spencer McCormick who rushed for 292 yards on 20 carries and scored five touchdowns in a 54-7 win against Orono.

Gardiner’s Alonzo Connor also turned in a five-touchdown performance as the Tigers downed Class B Pine Tree Conference rival Waterville 32-20. Connor, a junior, rushed for 172 yards on 26 carries.

Jack Powers of Camden Hills scored three touchdowns while rushing for 291 yards on 23 carries as the Windjammers nipped Morse 34-28 in a PTC Class B game. In another PTC Class B contest, Hampden Academy’s Nick Stevens rushed for 227 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Broncos to a 35-28 victory against Winslow.

Portland’s quarterback experiment with Imahdi Zagon is apparently over. Coach Mike Bailey put his talented running back in a number of different sets against Westbrook but not under center. Junior Matt McInnis is now the full-time quarterback with Zagon in the backfield. He responded by rushing for 258 yards on 37 carries to lead the Bulldogs to their first win of the season, a 27-15 over the Blue Blazes.

In other standout performances, Biddeford remained unbeaten in Class A Western Maine with a 47-21 win over Kennebunk behind Nick Gagne who rushed for four touchdowns and 145 yards.

Oak Hill’s Josh Allen put the Raiders in the win column against Jay by rushing for 227 yards and four scores.

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