FIVE TEAMS TO WATCH

1. Thornton Academy: The Golden Trojans have 13 returning starters from a team that made it to the Western Class A final, including their backfield and a portion of their line. Andrew Libby is a returning All-State player and has a strong supporting cast that includes QB Eric Christensen, fullback Nick Kenney and linebacker Bobby Begin. 

2. Cheverus: The Stags have won two consecutive Class A state titles and 24 games in a row, just seven shy of the Class A record set by South Portland in the 1990s. They’re still the champs until someone beats them, and that may not be easy. Cheverus has 10 returning starters. Along with All-Stater Donald Goodrich, other key players are TE/LB Ryan Casale and FB/DB Brent Green.

3. Bonny Eagle: With a veteran quarterback in Tyson Goodale and a strong nucleus in the line, the Scots like their chances of advancing deep into the playoffs. There are eight returning starters from a team that lost in the Western Class A quarterfinals. Andy Martel, Wade Manderville and Tyler Campobasso anchor the line. Goodale scored 19 touchdowns last season.

4. Windham: With 16 returning starters from a playoff team last year, the Eagles feel they can play with anyone in Western Class A. The line is solid with twins Joe and Shawn Francoeur. Christian Coons is a big back who can get tough yards, and Damien Shepard makes the move to quarterback after playing wingback last season.  

5. Massabesic: The Mustangs should reach the playoffs after barely missing out last season. A key to the option attack is the interaction between the quarterback and the fullback, and the Mustangs have two of the best in Western Class A in Jake Desrochers at QB and Casey Nava at FB. Nava is healthy after being limited from injuries last season. Linemen Josh Andrews and Jordan Drain are key players.

10 PLAYERS TO WATCH

Jake Desrochers, Massabesic, senior, quarterback: Desrochers begins his third year as a starter for the Mustangs. He rushed for over 800 yards and passed for over 500 a year ago. He worked hard in the offseason to improve his passing.

Tyson Goodale, Bonny Eagle, senior, quarterback: Goodale showed his running ability last season  in the Scots’ spread option offense, scoring 19 touchdowns. He’ll look to build on that performance as he continues a long line of talented running quarterbacks at Bonny Eagle.

Donald Goodrich, Cheverus, senior, running back: Goodrich took over as a starter after an injury to Spencer Cooke late in the regular season and rushed for five touchdowns in the state final. He also plays defensive end, where he was named to the Maine Sunday Telegram All-State team.

Brent Green, Cheverus, senior, fullback: The second half of the Stags’ potent 1-2 running punch, Green emerged as a top threat last season. He is also strong on defense as a DB/LB.

Andrew Libby, Thornton Academy, junior, running back: Libby can play several positions, including quarterback in the Wildcat formation. He was selected to the Maine Sunday Telegram All-State team as an all-purpose player on offense. He rushed for 678 yards and 12 touchdowns, and also caught four touchdown passes.   

Matt McKenney, Gorham, senior, running back: McKenney can play several positions, and his versatility could make Gorham tough to defend. McKenney rushed for over 1,000 yards last season.

Dillon Russo, Scarborough, senior, quarterback: Russo is a dual threat as a passer and runner. Injuries slowed him down a little last season, but when he’s healthy he’s one of the top offensive threats in Western Class A. He rushed for 630 yards and passed for 389 a year ago.

Alex Shain, Sanford, senior, running back: One of the top runners in state, Shain has the size (210 pounds) and speed to power past would-be tacklers. He finished with 1,361 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns in earning all-SMAA York County first-team honors.

Damien Shepard, Windham, senior, quarterback: Shepard is being moved to quarterback this season to take advantage of his speed and elusiveness. He has been a wide receiver, punt returner and kickoff returner for the Eagles. If his passing develops, the offense could score often.

Kenny Sweet, Deering, senior, running back: Sweet proved to be Deering’s top defensive player last season, playing a combination linebacker/defensive back. This season, he will get to show his running ability as a halfback.