PORTLAND — Every day at practice, Bill Goodman, the Deering High golf coach, sends out Joe Walp and Rocco Spizuoco in a twosome to compete against each other.

The games are friendly yet competitive.

Goodman said it toughens up his two standouts, who both want to win.

Walp has a 4-3 edge but that could change in a heartbeat. Deering’s top golfers are well-matched.

“We go head-to-head in practice,” said Spizuoco. “It makes the matches against our opponents a little easier.”

Arguably, no other high school team in the state has two better golfers at the top of the lineup than Deering does with Walp and Spizuoco, who are both seniors.

They are looking to finish their high school careers in style, leading the Rams to a Class A state championship.

They contributed to Deering’s state title as freshmen in 2008, but close defeats the previous two seasons have been frustrating.

Those teams had talent and depth. After Walp and Spizuoco, the Rams are inexperienced. The task for Goodman will be to develop two or more golfers over the next three weeks so Deering has a chance of qualifying for another state team championship.

Playing in the competitive SMAA division (North), it will a challenge for the Rams to get the automatic berth to the states that comes with winning the division.

Otherwise, the Rams will have to finish in the top three to reach the states when the league holds its team qualifying Oct. 3 at Natanis.

“Joe and Rocco have done everything they could in three seasons,” said Goodman, who anticipates another big season from them.

“They’ve both been outstanding in the regular season, and in team and individual state tournaments. I couldn’t ask anymore from them.”

Walp and Spizuoco have been friends since grammar school and golfers soon after. They learned the game at Riverside Golf Club, Deering’s home course.

They joined Falmouth Country Club this spring. Playing the demanding course has sharpened their games.

“You have to hit it straight there,” said Walp. “It’s more than a driver and wedge.”

Walp carries a 0.6 handicap index; Spizuoco has a 2.6.

Walp won the Maine Junior championship a year ago and played in the U.S. Junior Amateur this summer, but failed to qualify for match play.

Spizuoco has shown a knack for playing his best golf when the pressure is on. He was second in the Class A individual tournament last year with a 75 and was low scorer in Class A at the team states.

Both Walp and Spizuoco were selected to the Maine Sunday Telegram’s All-State team.

“I like to perform when the pressure’s on,” said Spizuoco.

Walp also can perform when he needs to, evidenced by winning the Maine Junior title and being the medalist at a U.S. Junior qualifying tournament in Connecticut.

Walp opened the season with a 3-under-par 32 on the front nine in a match against Cheverus at the Portland Country Club, and matched it in the second match last week against Portland at Riverside.

Deering lost to Cheverus but beat Portland.

Spizuoco shot 37 and 34 in his matches.

“Every year, Joe has gotten better and that’s not easy to do,” said Goodman.

“Rocco has come a long way since his freshman season. He’s been a clutch performer at the states. Both of them are pretty much self-taught.”

Both want to play golf in college but are undecided where they want to go.

Walp and Spizuoco both gave up other sports to concentrate on golf shortly after entering high school. The move has paid off.

They both would love to end their high school golf careers with an individual title, and if things work out, a team title as well.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH