Boston High School: Mt. Ararat

New England Roundup: Maine

February, 1, 2013
2/01/13
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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

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

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

January, 12, 2012
1/12/12
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Paul Vachon established himself as one of the top basketball coaches in Maine, winning seven girls Class A state championships in 23 years at Cony High School in Augusta. Prior to that he coached at Waterville and Messalonskee and won over 400 games in his career at Cony alone. He stepped down five years ago to take the athletic director’s position at Cony and recently answered a few questions about his job.

Q: You were a basketball coach for nearly 30 years. What misconceptions did you have about an athletic director’s job during that time?

MaineA: "I didn't realize all the time and responsibility that came with this position. Being in charge of 23 varsity sports, 25 sub-varsity, 55 coaches, supervising events, and attending meetings, certainly puts a lot on your plate. I had tunnel vision when I was coaching. Basketball was all I saw. Wow, was I ever wrong."

Q: How many hours do you work during an average week during the school year? And what are those hours devoted to?

A: "I average between 50-70 hours a week. Bus scheduling, referee assignments, daily updates on events, committee meetings, cancellations, MPA information updates and paperwork, parent concerns, player concerns, student eligibility, drug and alcohol concerns, field and game preparations, special events, booster meetings, evaluations, and making sure there is enough pizza for tonight's game — just to name a few."

Q: What is the most important aspect of your job?

A: "The most important aspect of my job is to be a good listener. I may not agree with everything, but I must understand that everyone has their own opinion. I must listen, research, and evaluate all dilemmas. I then must come up with a solution that hopefully everyone will understand and agree upon."

Q: Augusta has a number of centrally located and well developed facilities which make it an attractive site for regional and state championship events. How much of an extra burden is this on your job?

A: "I don't know if I would call it a burden. This is what I envisioned the AD position would be like. I love watching athletics and I would do anything to promote events for our school and community. Yes, we are centrally located, but our administration, community and city have built some nice facilities that many people want to use. I feel it is one of my responsibilities that I help promote these outstanding facilities."

Q: How have athletes changed since you began coaching?

A: "School teams were always our No. 1 priority. I'm not sure that this is truly the case anymore. I've seen athletes miss practices and even games to attend other sporting events. Year round practices and games for elite groups are now being offered for all sports. Many athletes and parents have already chosen their career sport by middle school. Instead of developing athletes, it seems that we are focusing on a specific area and hoping for scholarships. The best teams I ever coached was when I had three sport athletes on our teams."

Q: What is the most difficult part of your job?

A: "The most difficult part of my job is my inability to have the time to spend with the student athlete. They need to know that we care about them and more than just being an athlete. It is a difficult world out there. Expectations for our student/ athletes is as pressurized as ever. We must remember that this is high school. Our job is to make sure that they feel good about who they are and that athletics is only one part of their high school education. We are teachers first and coaches second. Technology has made it very difficult to focus on certain areas."

Q: What is the most rewarding part of you job?

A: "The most rewarding part of my job is our support system. Our administration and school board have a great understanding that athletics play a huge role in a student's high school education. You must understand that Cony offers as many sports as any school in this state."

Q: Do you miss coaching and do you think you’ll ever return?

A: "I do miss coaching. I still run camps and attend clinics. I am positive that I will be coaching again."

Q: Is the turnover of coaches greater today than is was 15 or 20 years ago? If so, why?

A: "The turnover is much greater. I think if you check the coaches who have longevity, I think that you will find out that they are involved in the school system as an employee. Mike McGee, Dianne Fornier, Al Veneziano, Paula Doughty, Moe McNally, Scott Graffam, Mt. Blue football coach etc."

Q: Being a teacher in the system gives you a greater understanding of the student athlete and vice versa. How do you walk the fine line between parental involvement and parental interference in high school athletics?

A: "We need parent volunteers. Our All Sports Boosters raise a huge part of our athletic budget and it is all because of their great dedication and love that our parents have for their children. Cony High School is very fortunate to have such caring parents. With that said, I must admit that we do have dilemmas with parents voicing their personal opinions. I must also admit that I have been on both sides of the fence. I must again go back to my original statement; I must become a great listener. I hope what I have learned as a parent, teacher, coach, and administrator has provided me with the wisdom that I can share that provides comfort for the parent's concern."

Q: Cony continues to offer a number of sports that many schools do not. With a declining enrollment and budget considerations, how long can this be sustained?

A: "The athletic budget is less than two percent of the entire school budget. I am in hopes that the school board and community believe that athletics plays at least two percent of a role in a high school student's education."

Q: What changes, if any, would you like to see in high school athletics in Maine?

A: "I would like to see students receive credits for playing sports. A lot of lessons are learned in participating in athletics. We give chorus credit and band credit. Why not athletics?"

Q: Is today’s high school athlete as dedicated to their sport as he or she was 20 or 30 years ago?

A: "I believe that athletes are as dedicated today as they were 20-30 years ago. We just don't have as many. Kids have many more distractions today than they had 20 years ago."

(Read full post)

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

October, 5, 2011
10/05/11
10:54
PM ET
Dave Halligan has coached soccer for 33 years, the last 25 at Falmouth High School where he has won nine state championships. This winter he’ll begin his 25th season as head basketball coach with the Yachtsmen, having won four state titles.

MaineDozens of his former players have gone on to succeed in college soccer, including Roger Levesque, who was named Pac-10 Player of the Year at Stanford and currently plays for the Major League Soccer Seattle Sounders.

Halligan recently answered questions about his soccer program for a Q-and-A:

Q: What makes Falmouth soccer so successful?

A: "We have a good program and we have a lot of good people running it, right from Saturday morning soccer to travel teams to guys that work in premier programs."

Q: How involved are you outside the high school team?

A: "When my kids went through I was involved in everything. I started youth, travel, premier and instructional programs. The first year we had 38 kids in the program. Now we have over 600. I think the key is numbers playing. (At the high school) we have 62 boys and 42-plus girls playing."

Q: How did you get into coaching?

A: "I played soccer in college but I went to school to be a basketball coach. I coached JV soccer at Greely for a couple of years then I went
to Cape Elizabeth and worked with Leroy Rand. After that I came to Falmouth. Back then there were no state championships, just a few teams
playing in (the) Triple C (Conference).

Q: How does Maine high school soccer stack up against other states?

A: "We have some excellent programs and players. The state is so spread out, but we have some kids playing pretty well. We have a lot of kids playing at the NESCAC schools. That’s pretty good soccer. Just because you’re from Maine it doesn’t mean you can’t aspire to the highest levels. If they want to play hard and work hard they can accomplish a lot."

Q: What do you do in the offseason?

A: "What’s an offseason? The offseason is the two weekends I spend with my wife."

Q: What’s the biggest difference between coaching soccer and basketball?

A: "Basketball is more like chess where you can adjust every time down the floor. Soccer is more like checkers. Once the game starts there’s not a lot you can do."

Q: How have premier teams changed the game?

A: "I think it’s broken down some of the (high school) rivalries. They’re friendly rivalries now but I think they play harder. They don’t want to
lose to their buddies."

Q: Why do players need high school soccer?

A: "Because of some of the other values we try to teach. The goals in high school are a lot different than in premier. In high school, 90 percent of the players aren’t going to go on. Last year when we didn’t win (the state title) the kids said what they liked most was going to practice."

Q: How is this season playing out?

A: "We lost 2-1 to Yarmouth and beat Cape, 2-1. Cape beat Yarmouth 2-1 so it’s pretty even. We lost a lot of kids from last year’s team. We’re
basically a young team but we have high expectations. We’re probably doing better than we hoped for. .I’ve been real pleased with my kids."

Q: Do you employ a specific style at Falmouth?

A: "Obviously we like to control the ball. We like to play with speed and skill. We don’t want to slug it out with you. We want to be more skilled
if we can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t."

Q: How long do you anticipate coaching?

A: "As long as I’m having fun, as long as I enjoy practice and enjoy the kids. I still do."

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: Maine

September, 14, 2011
9/14/11
2:55
PM ET
The first two weeks of the Maine high school football season produced a number of surprises.

MaineHere’s a rundown of some of the highlights in each of the three classes:

Class A
Cheverus keeps rolling along despite the loss of several players from last year’s state championship team. Senior Cam Olson stepped in at quarterback after playing behind Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Peter Gwilym for two years and last week threw three touchdown passes. Spencer Cooke, who scored four TDs in the state game last fall, has emerged as one of the state’s top running backs. The Stags are 2-0 and have outscored opponents 94-21.

Lawrence keeps rolling along in Class A’s Pine Tree Conference. The Bulldogs traveled to Bangor and knocked off the Rams 32-25 last Saturday night to go to 2-0. Shaun Carroll led the way with 224 rushing yards and four touchdowns, Lawrence has won its last 11 regular season games, dating back to a 2009 loss to Bangor. Prior to that, the Bulldogs had won 36 regular season games in a row. They are 8-1 against Bangor since 2005.

Many high school handicappers picked Bonny Eagle and Windham among the teams to beat in North Division of the Southern Maine Activities Association (SMAA), but both teams are winless after two weeks. Windham fell 28-20 to a strong Deering team last week while Bonny Eagle fell, 31-28, to upstart Massabesic. Lewiston, one of the PTC favorites, dropped to 1-1, losing 48-27 to Messalonskee, another team that has emerged as a contender. Along with Massabesic, Sanford is the surprise of the SMAA South. Last week, the Redskins knocked off a good Scarborough team 23-12 for one of its biggest wins in years.

Class B
This class is the most competitive in the state at least at the top where four teams in each of the two divisions are unbeaten. Included in those ranks are the two teams who met in the state final last fall, Mountain Valley and Leavitt. Mountain Valley has outscored opponents 81-23 so far while Leavitt, led by quarterback and linebacker Jordan Hersom, holds an 83-12 advantage over opponents.

Mt. Blue may be the most dangerous contender in the class. The Cougars dropped down from several years in Class A this season and in two games have outscored the opposition 87-6. Falmouth, Wells and Fryeburg are also 2-0 as are Waterville and Gardiner. The latter two teams meet Friday night in Gardiner. Waterville must find a way to stop running back Alonzo Connor who is looking to eclipse his total of 31 touchdowns form last year. In two games so far, Connor has scored 10 touchdowns.

Falmouth, which has outscored opponents 98-7 plays this week against Marshwood.

Class C
Foxcroft Academy and Yarmouth are the talk of Class C so far. They play in different divisions and don’t meet in the regular season, but could well square off for a state championship in November. Yarmouth is the defending state champ and so far the Clippers have scored 92 points and allowed seven. Foxcroft has been equally impressive outscoring opponents 108-8. There are contenders in each division. Bucksport, Orono and John Bapst are all 2-0 in the Little Ten Conference headed by Foxcroft while Freeport and Lisbon are unbeaten the Campbell Conference South along with Yarmouth.

Maranacook and Winslow are 2-0 in the Campbell’s North division and play this week in Winslow. The Black Raiders dropped down to Class C this season and are cruising so far, but they’ll face a big test in Maranacook and 6-foot-4, 210-pound running back Luke Emery.

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: Maine

February, 24, 2011
2/24/11
2:26
PM ET
It’s tournament basketball week in Maine and there’s no more exciting time in high school sports. Schools in four classes are playing for regional titles at the Bangor Auditorium, the Augusta Civic Center, the Portland Expo and the Cumberland County Civic Center. State championships will be contested next week.

Here are some of the highlights so far:

Boys Class A
MaineIn Western Maine games, top seeded and unbeaten Cheverus struggled before getting past No. 8 Marshwood 52-40. Louis DiStasio led the Stags with 16 points. Second-seeded Bonny Eagle won its quarterfinal against Westbrook but No. 5 Portland upset No. 4 South Portland behind 19 points from Mike Herrick and No. 6 Deering knocked off No. 3 Thornton, 41-33. The seedings held in the quarterfinal round in Class A East with No. 1 Bangor, No. 2 Hampden, No. 3 Edward Little and No. 4 Mt. Blue all winning.

Kennebec Valley Athletic conference southern division player of the year Bo Leary led Edward Little past Mt. Ararat with 28 points and 13 rebounds. Northern KVAC player of the year Graham Safford led Hampden past Lewiston with 22 points. The semifinal matchup between Bangor and Mt. Blue featured a pair of coaches with over 1,000 combined career wins. Bangor’s Roger Reed has 554 while Mt. Blue’s Jim Bessey has 463.

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: Maine

September, 8, 2010
9/08/10
3:34
PM ET
Several outstanding individual performances highlighted the first week of high school football in the state.

MaineTwo teams expected to challenge for the Class A championship this fall cruised to victories as Western Maine power Bonny Eagle defeated Westbrook, 36-0, and defending Eastern Maine champion Bangor blanked Skowhegan, 49-0.

Quarterback Matt Rollins paced Bonny Eagle with a pair of passing touchdowns while also rushing for 123 yards and a score. Bangor senior Josiah Hartley made a successful transition from wide receiver to tailback, rushing for 125 yards and three touchdowns in his debut at that position.

In other standout performances, Collin Downs rushed for 176 yards on 15 carries and scored six touchdowns to lead Camden Hills to a 60-28 win against Nokomis. Both schools are recent additions to varsity competition in the state.

Cony quarterback Luke Duncklee led the Rams of Augusta to a 48-12 win over Mt. Ararat of Topsham. The senior, who has made a verbal commitment to the University of Maine to play baseball next year, rushed for 194 yards on 21 carries and scored four touchdowns. He also passed for 71 yards and a score.

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