BIDDEFORD

Coach: Scott Descoteaux, fourth year

Last year: 6-3, lost in West quarterfinals

Returning starters: 11

Impact players: Tyler Audie, senior, QB/S; Nick Gagne, senior, FB/LB; Cody Chaloult, senior, OL/DT; Ryan Webb, senior, HB/DB; D.J. Shannon, senior, WR; Dan Tanguay, senior, RB/MLB; Joe Boulier, senior, OL/DT; Zach Jacques, junior, SE/DB; Andrew Descoteaux, junior, LB

Outlook: The Tigers are a senior-laden team with expectations in line with their tradition. “If, collectively, we get better as a team, I’ll be disappointed at the end of the season if we don’t contend for a playoff berth,’’ said Descoteaux. The Tigers will be bigger than in recent years. Audie, who started four games at QB last year, gives the Tigers a good passer in the spread formation. He’s got some talented receivers. The offensive line returns four starters and gets a boost from Chaloult (6-foot-1, 235 pounds), who transferred from Thornton Academy.

BONNY EAGLE

Coach: Kevin Cooper, 13th year

Last year: 7-3, lost in West semifinals

Returning starters: 10

Impact players: Ethan Thorne, senior, RB/CB; Nick Adkins, junior, RB/S; Matt Rollins, senior, QB/S; Jeff Amell, senior, TE/OLB; Nick Cawood, senior, C/DT; John MacDonald, senior, RG/DT; Nate Martel, senior, LG/NG/K; Cameron McKague, senior, WR/CB

Outlook: The Scots have a strong group of returning players. While not as big as some of its championship teams, Bonny Eagle has some very athletic players. Look for the Scots to take advantage of the big-play abilities of Thorne, Adkins, Rollins and McKague. Cooper sees a very determined group. “The kids have been very focused since the end of last year,’’ he said.

BRUNSWICK

Coach: Dan Cooper, sixth year

Last year: 9-2, lost in East final

Returning starters: 5

Impact players: Dylan Walton, junior, TB/CB; Brandon Matt, senior, TB; Kyle Franklin, senior, QB; Tony Blasens, senior, T; Zach Duffy, senior, G/LB; Derrick Darosa, senior, G/DE; Evan Mahoney, senior, OT/DT; Alex Tait, senior, C/DT

Outlook: Forget the fact that there are only five returning starters from a team that was one win from the state final. So dominating were the Dragons that all of their reserves got plenty of quality playing time. “The foundation is there,’’ said Cooper. “We have enough guys who were able to play a lot, who worked hard the last couple of years to prepare for this moment.’’ Brunswick may not be as big up front, meaning it will have to use its speed.

CHEVERUS

Coach: John Wolfgram, fifth year

Last year: 8-3, lost in West final

Returning starters: 11

Impact players: Peter Gwilym, senior, QB/FS; Evan Jendrasko, senior, FB/NG; Spencer Cooke, junior, TB; Zach Dulac, senior, LT; Jack Bushey, senior, TE; Christian Deschenes, junior, TE; Liam Hobbins, senior, HB/OLB; A.J. Bennett, senior, WB/DB; Mike Dedian, junior, G/DT

Outlook: The Stags are considered by many to be a top contender. They have a great mix of returning skill players and linemen with big-game experience. “We’re not big in physical size or numbers,’’ Wolfgram said, “but we’re scrappy and we compete well. That’s our modus operandi.’’ Gwilym is dangerous in the running and passing games and gives the Stags a great leader. Defensively, this is a team that knows how to force game-changing turnovers.

DEERING

Coach: Greg Stilphen, 14th year

Last year: 2-6

Returning starters: 15

Impact players: Jamie Ross, senior, QB; John Hardy, senior, WR; Trey Thomes, junior, RB; Will Richards, senior, G; Alex Stilphen, junior, OL; Sam Morrison, senior, C; Renaldo Lowry, junior, WR; Nick DiBiase, junior HB/LB; John Miranda, senior, LB; Devin Fitzgerald, senior, DE; John Burton, senior, DT; Mason Morgan, senior, DE

Outlook: The Rams lost their last six games last year to finish out of the playoffs and, as Stilphen said, “That was not much fun.’’ With eight starters back on offense and seven on defense, they should be better. But, Stilphen said, “We have to be more mature, that’s for sure. We have to play to our abilities, take one game at a time and not get frustrated if things don’t go our way early.’’ In the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Ross, a three-year starter, the Rams have one of the top quarterbacks in the conference, able to beat defenses with his arm or legs. Hardy could be one of the top receivers in the league. But the Rams lost Thomes, at least for a while, to a broken arm. Defensively, the Rams need to play physically and get to the ball.

GORHAM

Coach: Dave Kilborn, 13th year

Last year: 3-5

Returning starters: 10

Impact players: Joey Lynch, senior, QB/LB; James Lewis, senior, DB; Kyle Nealey, junior, TE/NG; Kyle Nielsen, senior, TE/LB; Brad Turnbaugh, junior, DB; Kam Alexander, senior, DB; Steve Verrill, senior, DB

Outlook: The Rams may be a year away from contending for a title, but they have a strong group of juniors. “It’s a matter of the younger kids getting experience,’’ said Kilborn. “We have a little big of a learning curve. Hopefully we’ll hit it head-on and go from there.’’ Gorham’s double-wing offense gives everyone fits, and this year should be no exception. Lynch, the QB, is extremely strong. And when he needs to pass, Nealey is a dangerous receiver. Defensively, the Rams should be strong in the secondary.

KENNEBUNK

Coach: Joe Rafferty, 32nd year

Last year: 2-6

Returning starters: 12

Impact players: Ethan Drigotas, senior, RB/DB; Matt Dube, senior, QB; Vann Brazz, senior, WR; Taylor Landry, senior, G/DE; Rob Stockbridge, senior, OT/DT; Tyler Panting, senior, G/ILB; Charlie Stewart, junior, DT

Outlook: Despite their record, the Rams were competitive in most games last year. If they stay healthy, they could improve on last year’s mark. Dube is an outstanding QB but missed time with a concussion last year. Drigotas and Brazz are two of the top offensive talents in the league. On defense the Rams should be strong up front, with three returning starters and a newcomer – the 270-pound Stewart. “I think for us, the big thing is when you’re going into games on your schedule that could go either way, you’ve got to win them,’’ said Rafferty. “And we’ve got to catch breaks.’’

MARSHWOOD

Coach: John Caverly, second year

Last year: 2-6

Returning starters: 13

Impact players: Reggie Muchemore, sophomore, FB/FS; Troy Pappas, junior, QB; David Mick, senior, HB/CB; Josh Pershey, senior, OT/DT; Joe Emerson, senior, G; Jack Verrill, junior, WR

Outlook: The Hawks are still a very young group, even with 13 starters returning. They will still have a large group of underclassmen playing key roles, including Muchemore, who was very impressive as a freshman and brings an aggressive edge to his game. The line has some veteran leadership. “We’re getting better, we’re doing some different things this year, and that’s helping some,’’ said Caverly. “We’d like to be back in the playoff conversation again. To do that, we need to become more physical and learn how to compete.’’

MASSABESIC

Coach: John Morin, 14th year

Last year: 4-5, lost in West quarterfinals

Returning starters: 9

Impact players: Casey Nava, sophomore, FB/S; Jake Derochers, sophomore, QB; Mike Nieves, senior, RB; Colby Adams, senior, RB; Sam Chaves, junior, SB; Brady Harrison, senior, OLB; Brandon Coulombe, senior, CB; Dillan Hayes, senior, DE; Billy Hayes, junior, OL/DL; Tylor Ames, junior, OL/DL

Outlook: The Mustangs are young, but many underclassmen got playing time last year because of injuries. “We like saying that if we get old and experienced quick, we certainly have the potential to be a much better team week by week,’’ said Morin. Sophomores Nava and Derochers have greatly improved – and Nava was one of the Mustangs’ best players last year, leading in total yardage. The Mustangs have some experience up front on both sides and that will be important, especially on offense, where they’ll again look to control tempo with a power running game.

MT. ARARAT

Coach: Mark LaFountain, fourth year

Last year: 2-6

Returning starters: 12

Impact players: Colby Barnes, senior, OL/DL; McKenzie Gary, junior, RB/S; Ryan Greene, senior, WR/DB; James Lewis, senior, C/DL; Brett Milliken, senior, QB/DB; Derek True, senior, RB/LB; Kiel Yenco, senior, TE/OLB

Outlook: The seniors are entering their fourth year of LaFountain’s system, and it showed in preseason. They are running plays more crisply and know the nuances of the system. “It’s like we never left off at all last year,’’ said LaFountain. “Four years of not changing anything, they’re comfortable and it shows.’’ That should translate into more victories. They have some speed in the skill positions, are strong at linebacker and could be vastly improved.

NOBLE

Coach: John Carver, second year

Last year: 1-7

Returning starters: 6

Impact players: Chase Gagnon, senior, FB/DE; Micah Lewis, senior, LB; Kevin Collins, senior, OL/DL; Joe Thyng, junior, LB; Matt Beatrice, junior, OL/DL; Jake Bagley, junior, HB/S

Outlook: The Knights have some veteran leadership but will rely on a large sophomore group. “With a lot of sophomores come sophomore problems,’’ said Carver. “We’re hopeful. We’re working hard and our primary goal is to continue to become more competitive in every game.’’ Lewis will be the leader on defense, a sure tackler with an uncanny ability to read the play. Thyng has been a surprise at LB. Gagnon brings a physical presence to the backfield.

 

OXFORD HILLS

Coach: Nate Danforth, third year

Last year: 1-7

Returning starters: 6

Impact players: Matt Farnham, senior, TE/FS; Chris Priest, senior, SS/TB; Dan Taylor, senior, FL/CB; Andy Ripley, senior, TB/CB

Outlook: The Vikings had a strong turnout with 55 players, but remain relatively young with only 11 seniors. The sophomore class was 7-0 as freshmen, and the junior class fills many of the key positions. Danforth discarded the spread offense for the I-formation, looking to bring the Vikings back to their hard-running physical days. “We really want to go back to being more physical on both sides of the ball, that’s my main goal,’’ he said. “That’s all we’re about right now, trying to bring physicality back to Oxford Hills football.’’

PORTLAND

Coach: Mike Bailey, 25th season

Last year: 5-4, lost in West quarterfinals

Returning starters: 10

Impact players: Imadhi Zagon, senior, RB/QB/S; Will Walsh, senior, TB; Carl Szanton, senior, FB/LB; Caleb Kenney, senior, TE/LB; Andrew Poston, senior, SE/DB; Jordan Voisine, senior, C/DT; Eddle Walsh, senior, G/NG; Nate Porter, senior, OT/DT; Nick Volger, sophomore, FL/S; Kyle Reichert, sophomore, OT/DT; Seamus Kilbride, junior, FL/DB

Outlook: The Bulldogs, spearheaded by a strong offense, should be one of the best teams in the conference. In Zagon, they have one of the top players in the state, capable of running from people or over them. Walsh is underrated but has great talent. “I’m very optimistic,’’ said Bailey. “The kids have certainly paid the price, their attitude is great, their work ethic is great.’’ A lot will depend on the defense, which must improve. The Bulldogs will be strong up front, but the secondary has to cut down on big plays.

SANFORD

Coach: Mike Fallon, 16th year

Last year: 6-3, lost in West quarterfinals

Returning starters: 10

Impact players: Shawn Goodrich, senior, RB/S; Jon Anatra, senior, C/ILB; Jon Schroder, junior, QB/CB; Justin Carlson, senior, RB/OLB; Aaron Marshall, senior, FB/ILB; James Titcomb, junior, LT/DT; Andrew Gregoire, junior, RT/DT

Outlook: Any time your offense starts with someone like Goodrich, a 1,000-yard rusher who also returns kicks, you’re in pretty good shape. He’s shifty, fast and deceivingly strong. But Fallon wants to take some of the pressure off him and hopes that Schroder, a defensive starter last year, and Carlson, a strong runner, can do that. And the Redskins must have some balance if they want to repeat last year’s success, when they went from 0-8 to a playoff berth. “I like the confidence of our kids,’’ said Fallon. “Last year, I feel we overachieved a little bit. This year we feel we have a tough hill to climb but we would like to think that we’re in that mix of teams that gets talked about.’’

 

SCARBOROUGH

Coach: Lance Johnson, first year

Last year: 1-7

Returning starters: 12

Impact players: Jack Adams, senior, QB; Zach Bean, senior, RB/LB; Mike Cyr, senior, TE/DE; Dennis Liu, senior, WR/DB; Scott Merrill, senior, TB/DB; Joe Viola, senior, WR/DB; Will Lynch, senior, T/LB

Outlook: With a new coach who brings a new offensive philosophy and a strong group of returning players, the Red Storm loom as this year’s darkhorse, capable of making a big move into playoff contention. Scarborough isn’t real big but is very athletic and skilled. “We really need to be focused and prepared,’’ said Johnson. “And we need to take advantage of our athletes.’’ In Cyr, Scarborough has one of the top TE receiving threats in the league, and Liu gives another dangerous receiving threat. The Storm will run a wide-open offense.

SOUTH PORTLAND

Coach: Steve Stinson, sixth year

Last year: 4-4

Returning starters: 14

Impact players: Billy Darling, senior, TE/LB; Joey DiBiase, junior, RB/LB; Tommy Ellis, senior, QB/DB; Ben Ely, senior OL/DL; Evan Indorf, senior, LB/RB; Alex Martin-Wallace, senior, OL/DL; Dan Medici, junior, WR/DB; Jordan Muller, junior, QB/DB; Michael Salvatore, junior, QB/LB; Jacob Stanley, junior, RB/LB; Matt Welch, senior, OL/DL

Outlook: After just missing the playoffs last year, the Red Riots could be one of the best teams in the conference. “This is the most complete and balanced team, I’ve had,’’ said Stinson. “The investment this team has put in is the highest I’ve ever had.’’ A strong senior class and 14 returning starters would put the Riots near the top. They’re aided by Stanley, a transfer from Palm Beach, Fla., who goes 200 pounds, and is elusive and fast. He’ll combine with DiBiase in a backfield that can give fits to anyone. The Riots need to figure out the defensive line, but the linebackers and secondary are solid. All-in-all, a team to be reckoned with.

THORNTON ACADEMY

Coach: Kevin Kezal, 11th year

Last year: 9-1, lost in West semifinals

Returning starters: 8

Impact players: Dimitri Skinsacos, senior, HB/LB; Fred Randall, senior, C/DE; Cody MacCabe, senior, OT/DT; Tyler Danley, junior, DE; Chris Dolewa, senior, DE; Nate Colpitts, senior, DB; John Remmes, junior, S; Josh Woodward, senior, QB

Outlook: The Trojans graduated a lot of their top skill players from a team that made it to the regional semifinals three straight years, but should still contend. “We’ve got probably the deepest team we’ve had in a long time,’’ said Kezal. “There’s a lot of competition for a lot of spots. We’re just young and inexperienced game-wise. We need to work hard and develop as the season goes on.’’ Woodward will get the nod at QB and he’ll have some talented receivers, including Skinsacos. Defensively, the Trojans go to the ball hard and have a good crew of linebackers.

WESTBROOK

Coach: Jeff Guerrette, third year

Last year: 1-7

Returning starters: 11

Impact players: Trevor Bates, senior FB/DT; Emmanuel Vincent, senior, HB/DB; Jake Gardiner, senior, C/LB; Steve Wescott, senior, HB/DB; John Grondin, senior, G/LB Terry Webber, junior, QB

Outlook: There is optimism for the Blazes, with good reason. Three offensive linemen return – all three-year starters – to lead a group of talented skill players. “We’re going to try to be as aggressive as possible and take advantage of our speed,’’ said Guerrette. “We’ll be one of the smallest teams you’ll see, but fast.’’ Westbrook lost four games by a touchdown or less last year and hopes that the lessons learned in those games can translate into wins this year. Webber is a key at quarterback. He was a fullback last year, but has great game sense and is aggressive.

WINDHAM

Coach: Matt Perkins, ninth year

Last year: 11-1, state champion

Returning starters: 7

Impact players: Nick Burton, senior, WR/CB; Cody Laberge, senior, QB/S; Micah Sawyer, senior, OT/DE; Nick Ramsdell, senior, OT/DT; Matt Morse, senior, NG; Max McDonald, senior, RB/DE; Mitchell Scammon, senior, G/DT; Drew Gagnon, senior, WR/DB; Kyle Williams, senior, FB/LB; Matt Dyer, senior, TE/DE; Dylan Taylor, senior, DB/WR; Nate Hjelm, senior, WR/DB; Dylan Nelson, senior, OT/DT

Outlook: Only seven starters are back from a state championship team, but they should contend again. “We’re fine,’’ said Perkins. Although the Eagles may lack experience, their reserves got plenty of playing time last year and spent a year practicing against some of the best players in the state. They have 16 seniors and some talented sophomores. Four played in the state final last year as freshmen. The line, led by Sawyer and Ramsdell, is fine. Laberge could be a big surprise at QB. “We have to play as a team,’’ said Perkins. “And some guys have to step up.’’