• TEAMS AT A GLANCE
Coach: Dan Cooper, ninth year
Last year: 7-2, lost in Eastern Class A semifinals
Returning starters: 11
Impact players: Lucas McCue, sr., RB/LB; Brady Larson, sr., QB/DB; Alex Bandouveres, jr., FB/DT; Adam Casey, sr., OT/DT; Josh Thibeault, sr., OT/DT; Jacob Duffy, sr., OG/LB; Nick Dodson, sr., OG/DE; Cody Buchheit, sr., TE/DE; Logan Tupper, sr., RB/DE
Outlook: The Dragons have moved to Eastern Class B and are looking forward to playing some of their former rivals. Brunswick returns its entire line, which should open up some holes for McCue and Bandouveres. Bandouveres, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound fullback, was a blocking back a year ago but will get a chance to run more. McCue has good size and speed. Larson started at QB in the playoffs. In a very competitive league, the Dragons could be near the top.
Coach: Jamal Chatman, second year
Last year: 0-8
Returning starters: 1
Impact players: Gage Pratt, sr., OL/LB; Andrew Briggs, sr., C/DL; Calvin Riiska, so., QB/DB; Ben Keene, sr., QB/DB; Zach Mills, jr., RB/DB; Stephen Burns, so., WB/DB; Sam Johnson, sr., RB/DB; Gunder Sandeno, jr., WB/DB; Jacob Holmes, so., OL/DE.
Outlook: The Rams have moved to Western Class B, a division that should be more compatible with where their program is. They will have their hands full in trying to right the ship. The fact that seven seniors decided not to play won’t help. Gorham will play a lot of sophomores and juniors, hoping the experience gained will help next season and the one after that. Chatman said he’s excited about teaching the new players the team’s style of play.
Coach: Joe Rafferty, 35th year
Last year: 5-4, lost in Western Class A quarterfinals
Returning starters: 11
Impact players: Nicco Delorenzo, sr., RB/LB; Tyler Elkington, sr., RB/DB; Larson Coppinger, sr., WR/DB; Ben Bath, sr., OL/LB: Nick Emmons, sr, QB; Richie Platt, jr. OL/DL; Shane Normandeau, jr. OL/DL; Jake Boothby, jr., OL/DL; Chris Broadhead, sr., FB/LB
Outlook: The Rams return a good portion of a team that lost to Thornton Academy in a shootout in the opening round of the Western Class A playoffs. Now Kennebunk has moved to Western Class B, so watch out. Elkington rushed for 500 yards last year. He’s a breakaway threat as a runner and a threat as a pass catcher. Delorenzo is a big, physical runner who should be tough in short-yardage situations. Emmons is experienced at QB. Coppinger will be a go-to player at WR. The Rams could be in the title hunt.
Coach: John Fitzsimmons, seventh year
Last year: 1-7
Returning starters: 12
Impact players: Noah Nelson, jr., QB; Drew Chamberlain, so., OG/DT; Connor Aube, so., RB/DB; Nate Boehm, sr., OT/DT; Storm Covens, sr., RB/LB; Matt Edmonds, jr., TE/LB; Justin Rogers, sr., WR/DB; Grant Rothweiler, sr., OG/LB; Tommy Torrey, sr., OT/DT; Ivy Stucker, sr., RB/DB; George Gilbert, so., RB/DB; Joe Goodrich, sr., TE/K
Outlook: The Yachtsmen are better and battle-tested from a year ago, but whether it translates into more wins in a strong league is a question. Nelson starts his second season at QB and is bigger, stronger and more savvy. He has a strong arm, is an elusive runner, and has some talented receivers in Rogers, Edmonds and Stucker. Falmouth has depth at every position. Goodrich is a top kicker/punter. The goal is to return to the playoffs.
Coach: David Turner, sixth year
Last year: 4-5, lost in Western Maine quarterfinals
Returning starters: 6
Impact players: Sulo Burbank, sr., OL/DL; Billy Rascoe, sr,. QB/LB; Ryan Buzzell, sr, RB/DB; Andrew Lyman, sr., OL/DL; Cody Loewe, sr. RB./DB
Outlook: The Raiders graduated seven starters. The team doesn’t have a lot of depth, so reaching the Western Class B playoffs again could be a challenge. Rascoe showed poise and toughness at QB last year and the team will look to him for leadership. Burbank had a strong season as a two-way tackle.
Coach: Dave Higgins, fifth year
Last year: 7-2, lost in Western Maine quarterfinals
Returning starters: 7
Impact players: William Peck, sr., RB/DB; Sam Peck, so., RB/LB; Connor Hanley, sr., WR/DB; Matt Pisini, so. WR/DB; Nick Dubois, jr., RB/DB; James Ferrar sr., FB/MG; Dylan Rasch, sr., OL/DL; Jonny Burton, sr, QB; Hal Baston, sr., OL/DL; Ryan Pomeroy, jr., OL/DL;
Outlook: The Rangers looked good in the opening scrimmage and hope to continue the progress during the season. Ferrar is a hard-running FB. The team is young so it could take a few games to settle down. Greely will learn quickly where it stands because it faces Marshwood, the regional champion, in the opening game.
Coach: Alex Rotsko, second year
Last year: 10-2, Western Maine champion
Returning starters: 12
Impact players: Brett Gerry, jr., RB/LB; Jackson Howarth, jr., RB/LB; Noah Kreider, sr., SE/DB; Lucas Blanchette, jr., QB/LB; Beau Blanchette, sr., TE/DL; Tyler Gagnon, sr., OL/DL; Ethan Joy, sr., C/DE; Dylan Gagner, jr., OT/LB; Nick Dalecki, jr., OL/DB; Zach Mitchell, so., OL/LB
Outlook: The Hawks could be in the running for the state title again this year with 12 starters back. Gerry gained more than 1,200 yards as a sophomore. Advancing to last year’s state championship game and losing to Mt. Blue 44-42 in a back-and-forth game could give the players the resolve to return and win. Rotsko feels the Hawks are ahead of where they were last year and will look again to have a balance between the run and the pass.
Coach: Jason Darling, fourth year
Last year: 2-6
Returning starters: 10
Impact players: Liam McDonough, sr., FB/LB; Trenton Moore, sr., WR/DB; Colby Wadleigh, sr., RB/LB; Cameron Malcolm, sr., OT/DT; Josh McDougal, jr., QB/DB; James Laser, jr. RB/DE; Casey Watson, jr., TE/DE; Juwan Moore, so., OG/MG
Outlook: The Shipbuilders are young with only five seniors. The team is working in a lot of skill players. Morse has one of its largest squads in several years with 54 players. The team has good size up front, led by two-way tackle Malcolm, and will look to play more power football than in the past.
Coach: Frank True, third year
Last year: 0-9
Returning starters: 7
Impact players: Jordan Castonguay, sr., TB/DB; Jack Mickels, sr., RB/LB; Devin Monteiro, sr., RB/DB; James Stemp, sr.,/OT/DT; Dominic Burich, sr., OL/DL; Connor Read, sr., OL/DL; Michael Tran, jr., OL/LB; Brendan Dion, sr. WR/DB; Dylan Johnson, jr., QB/DB; Brandon Jusseaume, sr., OL/LB
Outlook: The Eagles move from Eastern Class A to Western Class B, which should give them a better chance to be competitive. The team is still young, with several first-year varsity players. If things come together, Mt. Ararat could surprise a few teams.
Coach: Wes Drinkwater, first year
Last year: 3-5
Returning starters: 5
Impact players: Garrett Burns, sr., FB/LB; Hunter Grindle, sr., QB/DB; Dylan McLean, jr., OT/DT; Preston Spear, jr., TB/LB; Damien Ball, jr., RB/DB; Tommy Smalley, sr., OG/DT
Outlook: Drinkwater will have the luxury of working with a big, deep line. Grindle makes the offense go at QB. Burns was the top rusher last year. Burns, Ball and Spear are a nice complement to Grindle.
Coach: Jeff Guerette, sixth year
Last year: 7-3, lost in Western Maine semifinals
Returning starters: 10
Impact players: Trey Arsenault, sr., C/LB; Noah Collins, sr., G/LB; Alex Gauvin, sr., OT/NG; Kyle Heath, sr., QB/DB; Collin Joyce, sr., HB/DE
Outlook: The Blue Blazes should have a good chance of returning to the playoffs with 10 starters returning, including some good skill players. Heath is a running and passing threat at QB. Joyce gained 1,300 all-purpose yards last season. Arsenault, Gauvin and Collins look to anchor the offensive line while playing strong at linebacker.
Coach: Randy Small, 17th year
Last year: 8-3, lost in Western Maine final
Returning starters: 15
Impact players: Ross Hogan. sr., QB; Sean Kelly, sr., TB/DE; Kyle Miller, sr., OT/DT; Ryan Miller, sr., FB/LB; Ethan McDonough, sr., OT/DT; Mitchell Lee, sr., TE/DE; Grant Mahoney, sr., LB; Dalton Gamache, sr, C; Jordan Pigeon, jr., WR/DB; Jack Neary, jr., FB/LB; Brandon Carney, jr., WB/LB; Jimmy Orso. jr., WB/LB; Zach Hanley, jr., OT/DE; Dan Boch, jr., TE/DE; Mark McGlashing, jr., WB/DB.
Outlook: The Wildcats are a favorite in Western Class B. With 76 players, the program has its largest turnout. Hogan is one of the top QBs in Class B; he ran and threw for more than 1,000 yards last year. Kelly rushed for 1,200 yards and is also outstanding on defense. The offensive line has three new starters. How that unit develops will go a long way in deciding if York plays for the Gold Ball.
• 15 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Alex Bandouveres, Brunswick, junior, fullback: At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, Bandouveres will be tough to stop in short-yardage situations and even tougher with a head of steam. He’s also a strong blocker.
Beau Blanchette, Marshwood, senior, defensive end: Blanchette was a defensive standout for the Hawks in their march to the state title game. He’s also an effective blocker and pass receiver at tight end.
Larson Coppinger, Kennebunk, senior, wide receiver: Coppinger will be the go-to receiver for the Rams in a strong offense. He has outstanding speed and a great pair of hands.
Nicco Delorenzo, Kennebunk, senior, fullback: He is a big, strong runner who should get the tough yardage for Kennebunk. He complements the team’s balanced offense.
Tyler Elkington, Kennebunk, senior, running back: Elkington will be the go-to player for what is expected to be a strong Kennebunk running game. He has breakaway speed and can catch the ball out of the backfield.
James Ferrar, Greely, senior, running back: Ferrar is a hard runner for the Rangers who gained good experience last season.
Brett Gerry, Marshwood, junior, running back: Gerry was the top runner for the Western Maine champs as a sophomore with 1,200 yards.
Joe Goodrich, Falmouth, senior, kicker: Goodrich is one of the top schoolboy kickers in the state. Whenever the Yachtsmen cross the 40-yard line, they have a chance to score because of Goodrich’s leg.
Hunter Grindle, Oceanside, senior, quarterback: Grindle is a strong runner and passer, and the player who will key Oceanside’s offense this season.
Kyle Heath, Westbrook, senior, quarterback: Heath has plenty of experience at the position for the Blazes. He’s a good runner and an improved passer.
Ross Hogan, York, senior, quarterback: Hogan ranks as one of the top quarterbacks in Class B in the state. He’s a very accurate passer who has looked good in preseason.
Collin Joyce, Westbrook, senior, running back: Joyce accumulated 1,300 all-purpose yards last season. A hard-nosed player who gets the tough yardage.
Sean Kelly, York, senior, running back: Kelly is a dominating player on both sides of the ball. He gained 1,200 yards rushing last season.
Noah Nelson, Falmouth, junior, quarterback: Nelson has matured physically, and possesses a strong and accurate arm. He gained valuable experience last year.
Billy Rascoe, Fryeburg Academy, senior, quarterback: Rascoe led an impressive drive in the final regular-season game to get the Raiders into the playoffs. More of the same is expected.
• FIVE TEAMS TO WATCH
1. York: The Wildcats advanced to the Western Class B final last season. With most of the team returning, York could get to the state final. Ross Hogan is one of the top QBs in Class B, running and throwing for more than 1,000 yards. Sean Kelly rushed for 1,200 yards and is also outstanding on defense. The offensive line has some new faces. If they develop as expected, York could be playing for a Gold Ball.
2. Kennebunk: The Rams have a good portion of the team back that lost to Thornton Academy in a shootout in the opening round of the Western Class A playoffs. Kennebunk should feel comfortable in Class B. Tyler Elkington rushed for 500 yards last year. He is a breakaway threat as a runner and also as a pass receiver. Nick Emmons brings experience at QB.
3. Marshwood: The Hawks could be in the running for the state title again this year with 12 starters returning. Brett Gerry gained more than 1,200 yards as a sophomore last season. Having advanced to the state final could give the players an extra boost of confidence. Coach Alex Rotsko feels the Hawks are ahead of where they were last year and will look again to have a balance between the run and the pass.
4. Brunswick: The Dragons return their entire line, which should open up some holes for Lucas McCue and Alex Bandouveres. Bandouveres, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound fullback, was a blocking back a year ago but will get a chance to run more this season. McCue has good size and speed. Brady Larson started at QB in the playoffs.
5. Westbrook: The Blue Blazes should have a good chance of returning to the playoffs with 10 starters back, including some good skill players. Kyle Heath is a running and passing threat at QB. Collin Joyce gained 1,300 all-purpose yards last season. The Blazes will be strong on both sides of the ball and are intent of reaching the regional final.
– Tom Chard, Staff Writer