Boston High School: Mt. Desert Island

New England Roundup: Maine

October, 31, 2012
In a lot of sports in Maine, numbers can be a problem. Coaches often lament how there are fewer kids playing sports these days, fewer kids willing to put in the time to get better, fewer kids learning the lessons that sports can teach you.

MaineTraip Academy’s football program has felt this numbers crunch. The Rangers have 18 players. Not 18 subs, or 18 guys who just play offense, but 18 total.

The interest is low, but the wins-to-players ratio is off the charts. Traip is 8-1 heading into Saturday’s Western C semifinal playoff game with Winslow. The Rangers have lost only one game, a 12-6 setback to Dirigo.

The Rangers have been dealing with this for a while. Last season, when they came within one win of playing for a state championship, they had 24 players on their roster.

“When you go to a Western Maine Conference championship like we did, we expected more kids,” Traip coach Ron Ross said. “We figured 30 would be nice, and 35 would be outstanding. We had 16 show up for the first day of two-a-days.

“It’s something we’re used to. We have a strong soccer program. It’s two good programs fighting for kids.”

Basic math tells you Traip can’t even run 11-on-11 plays in practice. But Ross insists the numbers aren’t a problem when preparing for a game. Adults step in, always in non-contact roles.

“We throw coaches in there when needed,” Ross said. “It’s helped us a lot. Some of the coaches are actually better than some of the players that we’re going to key on.”

Naturally, conditioning is a key, since every team Traip goes up against is going to have the advantage in depth. When senior Devon Draker, who starts at fullback and middle linebacker, went down in midseason, Ross said it was the team’s only major injury in the last three years.

“I don’t think there’s anybody who works harder than we do,” Ross said.

With Draker back and healthy, along with Corey Aldecoa, Nate Henderson, and Anthony Sowell, Traip has four solid running backs. Usually, that’s been more than enough with their defense. The Rangers have allowed 32 points (3.6 per game) and have recorded five shutouts.

“The kids want to play defense more than they want to play offense,” Ross said. “We like to call ourselves blue-collar. With 18 people, what else can you be?”

Ross and the players also see themselves as underdogs, and in a way, it’s an upset that Traip still has a football program. Ross became head coach in 2002, when the Traip program was known for two things: Going through coaches quickly, and being an easy win for opponents.

Ross was there through a string of winless seasons. He was there in 2002, when he devised a trick play for a 67-yard touchdown on the opening play of the game, and Traip still trailed 34-6 at the end of the first quarter.

Traip went nearly six years between wins, losing 51 games in a row. The Rangers won their first game under Ross in 2006.

“It has been a long road, but I wouldn’t take anything back,” Ross said. “The lessons I’ve learned, I wouldn’t trade for anything. I know what not to do now, to make sure we don’t get back to that point.”

Besides, the way Ross looks at it, his team is still in the same situation in at least one respect.

“When we were 0-and-whatever, teams didn’t want to lose to us,” he said. “(Now), nobody wants to lose to 18 kids.”

Ross isn’t one of those who is concerned about the future of the program, even though 10 of this year’s 18 players are seniors. He points out that the local team that draws from fourth, fifth, and sixth-graders has 40 players.

“Next year is a great freshman class,” Ross said. “We might go a couple years where we win three games, four games. But once they figure it out, we’ll be back where we are now.”

Heading into the Eastern B football playoffs, it was clear the top three teams were Mt. Blue, Leavitt, and Hampden. Mt. Blue was undefeated, Leavitt had lost only to Mt. Blue, and Hampden had lost only to Leavitt.

That all changed on Friday night, as Belfast shocked Leavitt — the three-time defending conference champions — on Carl Dodge’s 2-yard touchdown run as time expired, giving the Lions a 20-17 victory. The Hornets had defeated Belfast, 36-0, earlier this fall.

Meanwhile, Waterville was 4-4 and hadn’t beaten a team with a winning record all season, but came away with a 25-17 victory over Hampden. Racean Wood had touchdown runs of 20 and 15 yards and added an interception.

Mt. Desert Island, a team that was 4-4 during the regular season and had lost 47-15 to Mt. Blue a little over a month earlier, nearly made it a trifecta. After Mt. Blue built a 14-0 lead in the fourth quarter, MDI fought back and was within 14-13 after Sandy Henggeler scored from three yards out with 3:41 to play. Bradley Jackson knocked down MDI’s pass on the two-point conversion, and Mt. Blue ran out the clock.

It had all the trademarks of a great game: Skowhegan had scored 144 goals, a state record, and Scarborough was attempting to become only the second team in United States high school field hockey history to go through an entire season without allowing a goal. Skowhegan had won 53 straight games, with the last loss coming to (of course) Scarborough.

Instead, it was a mismatch of Super Bowl proportions, as Skowhegan dominated from the start. The Indians couldn’t score in the first half, but put in three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 31 seconds early in the second half to take a 3-0 victory. Sarah Finnemore scored twice and Makaela Michonski knocked home the third goal. Skowhegan finished with 25 shots, while Scarborough had none.

Leavitt (Class B) and Lisbon (Class C) also won state field hockey championships.

Bangor Christian has won the last three Class D boys' soccer state titles. This season started out uneventfully for the Patriots, as they posted wins scores of 3-2, 10-1, and 4-1.

Since that 4-1 victory over Searsport on Sept. 14, Bangor Christian has not allowed a goal. The Patriots ended the regular season with 11 consecutive shutouts, and followed that up by blanking Easton, 5-0, and Machias, 2-0, to advance to the Eastern D title game.

Bangor Christian will face Ashland on Wednesday in the regional final. Ashland has allowed as many goals in two playoff games (four) as Bangor Christian has given up all season.

In the big scheme of things, $1,500 probably isn’t a big deal when it comes to a stipend for a boys' basketball coach, especially at a Class D school with about 200 students. Of course, that’s easier to say when it’s not your money.

According to the Bangor Daily News, Schenck boys' basketball coach Steve LeVasseur resigned after being informed his stipend for coaching the Wolverines would be cut from $5,019 last season to $3,510 this winter.

The BDN reported that the school system recently established a policy that coaches who teach in the system get a higher stipend than those who aren’t teachers in the system.

LeVasseur is a Schenck graduate, and coached the Wolverines for 22 seasons, winning five state titles and more than 300 games.

“After 22 years of service to this school, I feel it’s a slap in the face,” LeVasseur told the BDN.

New England Roundup: Maine

March, 2, 2012
State championship matchups are set for this weekend for boys' and girls' basketball teams in four classes.

Here’s a rundown of the games:

Class A Boys
HAMPDEN (20-1) vs. DEERING (16-3)

MaineRegional finals: Both teams were tested in regional finals and won on last second shots. Hampden’s Brian Fickett scored on an inbounds play with two seconds left to give the Broncos a 56-54 win against Mt. Blue. Christian led Hampden with 14 points. Deering beat Bonny Eagle 45-42 in the Western final on Pat Green’s 3-pointer at the buzzer. Green paced the Rams with 17 points.

Matchup: Both teams have good overall size and experience. In addition to McCue, the Broncos are led by 6-foot-7 center Fred Knight, 6-6 forward Logan Poirier and Pat Gilpin. Besides Green, the Rams are led by 6-6 Labson Abwoch, 6-4 Thiwat Thiwat and guard Jon Amabile.

History: Deering last won a state title in 2006 when it beat Hampden, Hampden won in 2005 by beating Deering in the state final.

Class B Boys
GARDINER (19-2) vs. YARMOUTH (17-4)

Regional finals: Both teams upset unbeaten top seeds in the finals. Gardiner beat Mt, Desert Island 70-58 behind 23 points from Jake Palmer and 16 from Aaron Toman. Yarmouth knocked off Falmouth 56-50 behind 26 points from Chris Knaub and 12 from Josh Britten.

Matchup: The teams are similar in size and style of play. Gardiner relies on team defense and rebouding. Toman is the tallest player at 6-4 while Palmer has taken off in the playoffs, scoring 33 and 23 in his last two games. The Tigers have good rebounders in Alonzo Connor and Matt Hall. Yarmouth looks to Britten, its 1,000 point scorer, to carry the offense, but showed others, like Knaub, can contribute. Sam Torres is also a key team member.

History: This is Gardiner’s first-ever trip to the state championship while Yarmouth last played for a state tile (Class C) in 1973 and last won in 1968.

Class C Boys
DIRIGO (20-1) vs. Lee (19-2)

Regional finals: Dirigo cruised to a 69-38 win against third-seeded Boothbay. during the three-game tournament, the Cougars outscored their opponents by a average scored of 76-35. Lee got 25 points from Boubacar Diallo to knock off upset-minded Houlton 58-47.

Matchup: This is a rematch of last year’s state final, won by Lee, 65-55. Because it’s a private school, many of Lee’s players from last year moved on but they do have some valuable additions including Boubacar and D.J. Johnson. The Cougars, led by Cody St. Germain, Ben Holmes and Josh Turbide, return most of their team with a new coach Travis Magnusson in charge. They run and pressure the ball which should make for an entertaining game.

History: Last year’s state final win was the first-ever by Lee. Dirigo has appeared in each of the last three state games without a win. They last won a state championship in 1983.

Class D Boys

Regional finals: Forest Hills pulled off one of the most dramatic comebacks in the history of the Western Maine tournament when it rallied from 19 points down late in the third quarter to defeat top-seeded Hyde 61-60. Junior Evan Worster led the Tigers with 33 points and set a tournament scoring record with 106 points in three games. Jonesport-Beals shot 62 percent from the field in stopping Deer Isle-Stonington 75-62. Garet Beal led the Royals with 20 points while Cole Beal scored 14.

Matchup: Jonesport-Beals has the history and experience on its side, not to mention size with a couple of 6-5 forwards in Garet Beal and Justin Alley. The Tigers have only eight players on their team — the school enrollment is 54 — and start three freshmen.

History: This is Forest Hills’ first-ever appearance in a state final while Jonesport-Beals is gunning for championship No. 10.

Class A Girls
CONY (21-0) vs. MCAULEY (21-0)
Regional finals: Cony got past No. 2 seeded Edward Little 46-41 behind 17 points from Mia Diplock who scored two key baskets down the stretch. McAuley coasted to a 61-43 win against second-seeded Scarborough. Allie Clement led the Lions with 19 points and seven assists while Olivia Smith added 15 and tournament MVP Alexa Coulombe scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and had seven steals.

Matchup: The Lions are the defending state champs and enjoy a decided height advantage with Coulombe and Smith, both 6-2, in the lineup. Cony relies on the guard play of Diplock and junior Josie Lee and a host of three-point shooters. Both teams like an uptempo game.

History: Cony is making its sixth appearance in a state final since 2002 while McAuley is making its fifth. The Rams defeated McAuley for the title in 2007.

Class B Girls
Regional finals: After losing in the final the past two years to Nokomis, Presque Isle finally broke through and downed the Warriors 52-40 behind 13 points from Chandler Guerette and 11 from Hannah Graham. Lake Region defeated Greely 46-30 behind 22 points from Sydney Hancock and 14 rebounds from Tianna-Jo Cater.

Matchup: Presque Isle averaged 70 points a game during the regular season and would like to push the pace while a slower pace would favor Lake Region.

History: The teams last played for a state championship in 2006 when Presque Isle defeated lake Region 48-36. Lake Region last won a title in 1975.

Class C Girls
HALL-DALE (18-3) vs., CENTRAL (18-3)
Regional finals: Top-seeded Hall-Dale knocked off No. 7 Waynflete behind 16 points and some big plays down the stretch from Carylanne Wolfington. Central beat Stearns 42-41 in overtime behind 21 points from freshman Brianna Skolfield and nine from Sam Brownell.

Matchup: Hall-Dale is the defending state champion but a different team with the graduation of center Taylor Massey. Wolfington is a Miss Basketball finalist and a versatile player who can score inside and out. Central relies on defense and will likely assign Max McHugh to guard Wolfington.

History: Hall-Dale won its first state title since 1986 last season while Central last won in 1982.

Class D Girls
RICHMOND (20-1) vs. WASHBURN (20-1)

Regional finals: Richmond junior Jamie Plummer scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to led the Bobcats past Rangeley 46-33. Freshman Mackenzie Worcester scored 20 points and Carsyn Koch added 19 as the beavers flew past Hodgdon 68-44.

Matchup: The game is a rematch of last year’s state final won by Washburn 43-40. The Beavers will press, run and try to quicken the pace of the game while the Bobcats would like to slow things down and get the ball inside to Plummer and six-footer Alyssa Pearson.

History: This will be Richmond’s seventh appearance in a state final but the Bobcats have yet to win one. Washburn won its fourth championship last year.

Waynflete junior Martha Veroneau and Forest Hills junior Evan Worster each set tournament records last week at the Augusta Civic Center. Veroneau, a 5-7 guard, scored 47 points against Boothbay to break the single-game Class C tournament record of 45 set by Boothbay’s Katie Sibley. Veroneau also connected on nine 3-pointers to break her own tournament record of seven in a single game.

Worster scored 51 points in a quarterfinal win against A.R. Gould to set a single game Class D record of 45 set by A.R. Gould’s Ian Nono. Worster, a 6-3 forward also set a new tournament scoring record of 106 points, breaking Buckfield’s Paul Bessey’s mark of 96.