Boston High School: Nokomis

Maine statewide football preview

September, 4, 2013
9/04/13
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The football landscape has changed with the addition of a fourth class and reorganization everywhere. Here's a look at the top contenders in each class in 2013:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: Maine

March, 6, 2013
3/06/13
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Like any old building, it has its flaws. It's cold and drafty sometimes, and way too hot other times. Everyone's relieved when the roof doesn't leak during games, or when a week of basketball tournament games goes on as scheduled without any old parts breaking down.

MaineBut the Bangor Auditorium, which hosted its last high school basketball tournament game on March 1, has history on its side.

The basketball part of the arena, of course, is old-fashioned. There are Maine high school tournaments at the Augusta Civic Center and the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland. In Augusta, the concession stands are behind one of the baskets, creating a depth perception problem that knocks some teams right out of the tournament. In Portland, the seats are so far away that watching a game from the front row is like trying to watch your neighbor across the street.

At the Bangor Auditorium, everything is enclosed. There is little space behind the baskets or out of bounds, so the sound bounces off the walls loud enough that it can be impossible to hear the person talking next you.

“To this day, I wonder how anyone can play in that atmosphere,” Lawrence coach Mike McGee told the Bangor Daily News. “It’s amazing to look straight up and see the crowd. Your mouth is dry, all you want to do is drink water, and it makes you wonder how all those great athletes were able to perform in that setting.

“Since we’ve gone to the [Augusta] Civic Center coaching hasn’t been the same for me,” McGee added. “The fans are so on top of you in Bangor. You hear a giant roar when you score and now it’s just silence by comparison. They can hear me all over the Civic Center, and back when we played in Bangor we had to use play cards because the players could never hear me.”

Several newspapers and television stations have done tributes to the Auditorium over the past couple weeks. As the BDN wrote, “The Bangor Auditorium is filled with the echos of the basketball heroes it created, from Mike Thurston making a halfcourt shot as time expired to win the 1969 Class LL state championship for Caribou to Joe Campbell’s buzzer-beating basket that rallied Bangor past Deering of Portland for the 2001 Class A crown.”

Campbell's shot is one of the most famous in state history. He came from the other side of the basket to get a rebound and reverse layup just before the buzzer (Many still insist Bangor got a few extra seconds on the play because the clock operator was slow to re-start the clock.). Within a couple seconds, the floor was covered with Bangor fans. During this year's Eastern A boys tournament, Hampden freshman Nick Gilpin hit a 30-footer to beat Lawrence at the buzzer – a shot that made SportsCenter's list of Top 10 plays for the night. A group of adults formed a wall to make sure the Hampden fans didn't rush the court. No one thought to do anything like that in Bangor.

Maine has long had a problem keeping its high school graduates in the state or even in the area. That's especially true when you get north of the Portland area. Many big schools have seen their enrollment drop over the last 20 or 30 years. Presque Isle used to be in Class A and is now a normal-sized Class B school. Waterville has around 1,500 students in the late 1970s, and now has well under half that.

But even with the economy faltering and the small towns getting smaller, they still had the Bangor Auditorium.

"So many people, when they say 'That's the worst place to play,' they're not from northern Maine or eastern Maine,” Lindsey Welch, who played at Nokomis and now coaches at Winslow, told the Morning Sentinel. “They don't know. I would get so defensive about the place. It's like family."

MR., MISS MAINE BASKETBALL SEMIFINALISTS NAMED
The 10 semifinalists for the Mr. and Miss Basketball Awards were announced recently, with the winners to be announced on Friday, March 8.

On the boys' side, the semifinalists are Garet Beal of Jonesport-Beals, Spencer Carey of Lawrence, Anthony DiMauro of Boothbay, Charlie Fay of Falmouth, Quin Leary of Edward Little, Garrett Libby of Old Town, John Murray of Medomak Valley, Aaron Todd of York, Mitch Worcester of Washburn, and Evan Worster of Forest Hills.

Beal is one of the favorites, even though his Jonesport-Beals team was stunned by Easton in the Eastern D tournament.

On the girls' side, the semifinalists are Leavitt's Kristen Anderson, York's Emily Campbell, Dexter's Lauren Crane, Presque Isle's Chandler Guerrette, Lake Region's Sydney Hancock, Camden Hills' Jordan Knowlton, Cony's Josie Lee, Gorham's Kristin Ross, Waynflete's Martha Veroneau, and Orono's Jillian Woodward.

Only three of those players are taking part in state championship games this weekend. Guerrette and Hancock will face off as Presque Isle takes on Lake Region in a rematch of last year's Class B state final, won by Presque Isle in a squeaker. In the Class C final, Veroneau and Waynflete will play Calais for the Gold Ball.

The biggest omission on the girls' side was probably Richmond's Jamie Plummer, who led the Bobcats to the regional title for the third consecutive year.

TWO PLUS TWO ON THE SIDELINES FOR EASTERN A GIRLS FINAL
The Eastern A girls' basketball final between No. 2 Bangor and No. 9 Cony was notable not just for Cony's run from the last seed, but also because both coaches – Bangor's Katie Herbine and Cony's Karen Magnusson – are pregnant.

Herbine – who is so animated on the sidelines she makes Jonathan Papelbon look subdued – is nearly six months along, while Magnusson is a little over four months into her pregnancy. Both were standout players at their current schools as high school athletes.

The game was anticlimactic. Bangor had a height advantage and outrebounded Cony, 54-29, in a 57-43 victory.

New England Roundup: Maine

January, 25, 2013
1/25/13
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Max McHugh, a standout soccer and girls' basketball player at Central High School, suffered a broken leg recently as the result of a head-on auto accident. Shortly after, the school had a “white-out” night at a home game, where fans were asked to wear white in support of McHugh and her family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New England Roundup: Maine

December, 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
11/13/12
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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New England Roundup: Maine

April, 23, 2012
4/23/12
11:37
PM ET
Mt. Blue boys basketball coach Jim Bessey retired recently after 37 years with the Cougars. Bessey, who also coached at Madison Memorial High School, leaves with 479 wins. This year’s team reached the Eastern Maine Class A championship game where it lost to Hampden 46-44.

MaineBessey, 68, led the Cougars to the Eastern Maine title in 1997. He answered some questions regarding his team and coaching philosophy.

Q: Who were your early influences in the game?

A: "My high school coach, Rod Shain. My whole life has been connected with sports. It was and always has been my niche. I played for a small high school and had the physical ability to excel and the internal desire to win. Coach brought this out in me."

Q: How did you first get into coaching?

A: "I started out as a JV coach at Farmington High School."

Q: When did you start to feel comfortable as a coach and why?

A: "I have always been comfortable as a coach and I knew in the sixth grade that it was I wanted to do. I think my comfort level has always been connected to my ability to relate to my players."

Q: How would you describe your coaching philosophy?

A: "It has always been to get players to work together as a team and to make them understand that everyone on the team can and must make a contribution for the team to be successful. Every player has the ability to make the team better. That little things are important. To convince them that playing and practicing hard are talents."

Q: Where did it come from?

A: "I developed it over time."

Q: Who were your coaching role models?

A: "At the high school level Dick Hunt (Cony), Bob Brown (Cheverus), Tom Maines (Morse, Scarborough). At the college level Dick Whitmore (Colby), Dick Meader (Farmington) , Ed Kohtala (Maine), Steve Clifford (Orlando Magic)."

Q: How has the game changed and how have you adapted to it?

A: "The inability to score the ball-which may be related to more aggressive defense. This demands better ballhandling skills and more time has to be spent on it. More drills."

Q: What do you believe is the key to a successful basketball program?

A: "The key is to get young people to commit to the time it takes to be good."

Q: What will you miss most?

A: "The contact with the players and the coaches and the relationships developed as a result."

Q: How do you hope to be remembered as a coach?

A: "As someone who gave his best and always came prepared. As a coach who made a difference in the big picture of his players, who used sport to teach life lessons."

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New England Roundup: Maine

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
3:20
PM ET
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
FOREST HILLS (18-3) vs. JONESPORT-BEALS (18-2)

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
PRESQUE ISLE (21-0) vs. LAKE REGION
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.

TOURNAMENT RECORDS
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.

New England Roundup: Maine

January, 31, 2012
1/31/12
3:58
PM ET
Leavitt senior Jordan Hersom was recently named recipient of the 41st Fitzpatrick Trophy, given annually to the state’s top high school football player. The other finalists were Louis DiTomasso of Wells and Spencer Cooke of Cheverus.

MaineHersom played quarterback and defense for the Hornets, leading them to three straight Class B state championship appearances, winning in 2009. The Hornets were 42-4 over four seasons with Hersom in the lineup.

This year, he passed for 1,630 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for 10 scores, averaging 8.7 yards a carry. On defense, he recorded 56 tackles and two interceptions. In the classroom he carries a 96 average which is also a factor in selecting the Fitzy winner.

He recently answered questions about his career and his future:

Q: When did you begin playing football and who were your early influences?

A: "I've been surrounded by football my whole life. The minute I was born my parents had me in a cradle holding a football, and the first time I walked was on a football field. I started playing flag football in kindergarten, and started playing tackle football in third grade. My biggest influence on me was my father who has been coaching high school football for over thirty years and also played throughout high school and college."

Q: What do you enjoy about the sport?

A: "I enjoy being around my teammates and forming bonds with them that will last a lifetime. In a team sport, it's amazing how much a group can accomplish if nobody cares who gets the credit. This is what the Leavitt football team was all about. I enjoy the team aspect, it takes eleven players to win a game, not one."

Q: When did you first play quarterback and why?

A: "In third grade I remember my first time playing quarterback. Part of the reason I was put at this position was because the fourth grade starter was hurt, and my coach thought I could do a good job running the QB boot play we had around the end because I was pretty fast. I've been a quarterback ever since."

Q: What has contributed to the success of football at Leavitt?

A: "The whole community has played a part in the success Leavitt football has had. Starting with the parents of the players, all the way through to the teachers at the school. So many people do work behind the scenes for the program to succeed. Having coaches who care about the players and the game of football, along with the players having a desire to get better everyday has all contributed to the success the team has had."

Q: What does winning the Fitzpatrick Trophy mean to you?

A: "Winning this award to me, is a way of saying thank you to everyone who has been a part of my life. I couldn't have received any of this recognition without the help, and support from many people. This trophy is something the community deserves for all of the dedication, and loyalty the people in Turner, Greene, and Leeds have shown to the game of football."

Q: Your cousin Jack won the award a few years ago. Did this help inspire you?

A: "I remember being a part of Jack's experience at the banquet in January of 2008. Jack has served as a role model to me, and still does, not just for the athlete he is, but for the type of person he is. I honestly never would have thought that I would be in the same position he was in. I just wanted to be the best teammate, leader, and player I could be by working hard everyday and looking up to people like my cousin Jack as a role model."

Q: Have you narrowed you choices of colleges? What is your criteria?

A: "Springfield College, and the University of Maine are two of my top choices. They are very different schools in a size and athletic wise.
Springfield would provide good private education for me, along with the possibility of being a two-sport athlete. At UMaine I would be able to
challenge myself in the classroom and at a high level of football. Academics comes first, and I want to be somewhere where I fit in, and have a sense of belonging."

Q: You play offense and defense. How would describe the mentality on playing on different sides of the ball?

A: "Football is a contact sport, and on both sides of the ball, I try to be aggressive and physical because that is how the game is supposed to be played. Offensively, as a quarterback I try to be the leader on the field, always staying positive and being confident. As a defensive
player, I turn on a mean streak. To play defense you must be tough and not afraid to hit somebody."

Q: What position would you prefer to play in college?

A: "I'm all about the team. Wherever a coach tells me to play is where I will be happy to play. I just want to be out on the field. So the position doesn't really matter to me because it's not about me, it's about the team."

Q: What other sports do you play?

A: "I play basketball in the winter and participate in outdoor track and field during the spring."

Q: What influence have athletics had on your life?

A: "Sports have taught me a lot of life lessons. In life, not everything goes your way, and I've been able to deal with the joys and disappointments of playing high school sports. I play for the love of the game, not for winning and losing."

Q: How do you maintain the balance between athletics and academics?

A: "Academics always comes first and by being busy I think it helps me. This way I always have a structured time to do homework whether it is before or after practice. At this point I've realized that sports and school are important and they are what I want to succeed in."

Q: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not playing sports?

A: "Spending time with my family and friends is what I like to do outside of sports. I have a great family that loves and supports me, and my friends are always there for me as well."

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New England Roundup: Maine

January, 12, 2012
1/12/12
6:37
PM ET
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."

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New England Roundup: Maine

January, 2, 2012
1/02/12
1:23
PM ET
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

February, 24, 2011
2/24/11
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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.

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New England Roundup: Maine

November, 4, 2010
11/04/10
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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, 8, 2010
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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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