September 9, 2013

Class A High School Football Preview

• TEAMS AT A GLANCE

20121027_PW_Football
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Justin Zukowski is part of a deep and talented backfield for Portland, which, like Cheverus and Deering, will be adjusting to new – and not so traditional – opposition by switching to Eastern Class A.

2012 Press Herald File/Gordon Chibroski

20121027_PW_Football
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Windham will be disappointed if it fails to reach the Eastern Class A playoffs, and Liam Sullivam will be doing his darndest to make sure the Eagles make a good run.

2012 Press Herald File/Gordon Chibroski

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FOOTBALL LIVE STREAMING

At www.pressherald.com/sports, we'll be providing live broadcasts of up to 16 regular-season football games, plus playoffs. Here are the first five games scheduled to be streamed:

Friday: Cheverus at Portland

Saturday: York at Westbrook

Sept. 12: Portland at Deering

Sept. 13: Bangor at Scarborough

Sept. 14: Lewiston at Cheverus

Biddeford

Coach: Brian Curit, 14th year

Last year: 3-5

Returning starters: 7

Impact players: Nate Ouellette, sr., RB/DB; Corey Brown, sr., WR/DB; Matt Stone, sr., OG/DE; Corey Creeger, sr., RB/DB; Casey Twomey, jr., QB; Capen Macomber, jr., FB; Sasha Kurlychek-Godard, jr., TE/DE; Dominic Day, jr., RB/LB; Alix Chandler, jr., RB/LB; Nick Ackerman, jr., Steve Lekakos, jr., OT/DT; Chris Couillard, jr., LB; Chhay Ouch, jr., RB/LB; James Ociti, sr, WR.

Outlook: Curit returns to the program where he served as head coach from 1994 to 2006. The Tigers will run the wishbone offense and have the personnel to execute it effectively, with Twomey at QB, Macomber at FB and some quick halfbacks. Twomey has an accurate arm. A strong junior class could be a key this season and next. If the line develops and the defense is strong, the Tigers could be in the playoffs.

Bonny Eagle

Coach: Kevin Cooper, 16th year

Last year: 2-6

Returning starters: 11

Impact players: Joe Bissonnette, sr., WR/DB; Zach Dubiel, jr., QB/DB; Jon Woods, sr., RB/DB; Matt Smith, jr., RB/LB; Ben Malloy, jr, WR/DB; Isaiah Reynolds, sr., OT/NG; Brandon Johnson, sr., OG/LB; Brian Rollins, sr. C/LB; Lucas Winslow, jr., OT/DT; Robbie Martin, sr., LB; Stephen Hannigan, sr., LB

Outlook: After missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2001, Bonny Eagle is eager to return. The Scots look to be among the top teams in Western Class A. Dubiel starts his second season at QB, running the spread offense. Woods is a nice addition after transferring from Gorham, where he was the team's top runner. Bissonnette is a returning all-conference receiver. Malloy, a top basketball player for the Scots, will help at WR.

Cheverus

Coach: John Wolfgram, eighth year

Last year: 10-1, lost in Western Maine final

Returning starters: 9

Impact players: Ethan Jordan, sr., QB/DB; Cody O'Brien, sr., FB/LB; Will Hilton, sr., TB/DB; Joe Fitzpatrick, jr., TB/LB; Liam Lafountain, jr., RB/DB; Sam Cross, sr., TE/LB; Noah Stebbins, sr., SE/DE; Jack Sutton, jr., SE/DB; Ken Drelich, so., WR; Greg Grinnell, sr., OT/DT; Pat Ball, sr., C/DT; Riley Archer, sr., OG/LB; Connor Conley, sr., FB/LB; Jon Ruterbories, sr., OT/DT; Zordan Holman, jr., TE/DE; Matt O'Leary, jr., OT/DT

Outlook: The Stags are moving to Eastern Class A. Despite some graduation losses, the Stags should be a contender in their new division. Cheverus has size and speed with talent at the skill positions. The line has two starters back and a lot of potential. Wolfgram said his team is embracing the challenge of its new league. Jordan at QB has been waiting his turn to start and has shown a strong arm in preseason. Fitzpatrick had some good showings running the ball late in games last season.

Deering

Coach: Scott Parsons, first year

Last year: 4-6

Returning starters: 8

Impact players: Baylee Lewis, sr., OL/LB; John Curtis, sr., OL/DT; Matt Krusec, jr., OL/DL; Dominic Bernard, so., WR/LB; Max Chebet, so., QB; Mike Marzilli, sr., WR/DB; John Yumobe, jr., WR/DB; Jonah Rogers, jr., OL/LB; Matt Flaherty, jr., OL/DL; Fritz Gemmer, jr., QB/DE; Anthony Pruit, fr., RB

Outlook: The Rams face a rebuilding season with a young squad after graduating some key players from a playoff team and a Thanksgiving Day winner. Deering will look to use its speed and athleticism. If the players can adapt to what the coaches are teaching, the Rams might surprise a few teams.

Massabesic

Coach: Jon Gallant, first year

Last year: 2-6

Returning starters: 8

Impact players: Trevor Mack, sr., LB/RB; Noah Gerry, sr., WR/DB; Jordan Drain, jr., OL/DL; Mike Risti, RB/LB, jr., Tyler Bear, sr., TE/DE; Cale Thornton, sr., TE

Outlook: The Mustangs have a new head coach in Gallant, a former player at Massabesic. Gallant was the head coach at Deering the past two years. He'll run a spread offense like he did at Deering. The Mustangs have 55 players, which Gallant finds encouraging. He also likes the attitude the players showed in preseason. The Mustangs hope to capitalize on their team speed.

Noble

Coach: Andrew Elwell, first year

Last year: 4-4

Returning starters: 10

Impact players: Otto Keisker, so., QB/DB; John Mann, so., RB/DB; Collin Harrigan, sr., WR/DB; John Hamme, jr., C/LB; Cam Guimond, jr., OT/DT; Robert Worell, jr., OG/DT; Jacob Zenga, jr., OT/DT; Joe Grenier, sr., RB/DE

Outlook: The Knights have a new coach in Elwell and a young team with a great deal of potential. They hope to keep the momentum gained from last season. "We are looking to get better every day and play our best football in November," said Elwell.

Portland

Coach: Jim Hartman, second year

Last year: 6-5, lost in Western Maine semifinals

Returning starters: 14

Impact players: Justin Zukowski, sr., RB/DB; Jayvon Pitts-Young, sr., RB/LB; Jake Dunton, sr., OT/DT; Dominic DiMillo, jr., OT/DT; Dominic Fagone, jr., WR/DB; Luigi Grimaldi, sr., OG/LB; Anthony Green, sr., TE/LB; Jordan Talbot, jr., QB/DB; Ryan Ruhlin, jr., QB/LB; Jake Fogel, sr., RB/LB; Ronald Hargrove, sr., RB/DB; Brett Howell, sr., WR/DB; Matt Talbot, sr., TE/LB

Outlook: The Bulldogs look to build on last year's playoff season. They will do it in Eastern Class A, where they have moved to help balance the two regions. Portland has talent in the backfield with Zukowski, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season. Pitts-Young gained 500 yards. Hargrove, a transfer from Massachusetts, has outstanding speed and should add backfield depth. The team has depth at QB with Talbot and Ruhlin. If the Bulldogs can fill both guard slots, they could be a contender.

Sanford

Coach: Mike Fallon, 19th year

Last year: 5-4, lost in Western Maine quarterfinals

Returning starters: 14

Impact players: Jed Scott, sr., OT/DT; Chase Smith-Roberts, sr., OG/LB; Dakota Chapman, jr., OT/DT; Nich Veino, sr., TE/DE; Josh Schroder, sr., RB/DB; Slade Watson, sr., RB/LB; Colby Perigo, sr., FB/LB; Jon Morgan, sr., SE/DB; Tyler Flayhan, sr., SE/DB; Dan Anatra, sr., C; Chase Eldredge, jr., QB; Justin Roberge, sr. RB/LB; Nick Love, jr., TE/DE

Outlook: The Spartans will look to be more balanced and should be able to run the ball behind a big line. The team has plenty of experience with 14 returning starters. Schroder will be a go-to player as the team will also look to spread the ball around more than last year, when Alex Shain was the workhorse. Replacing his 28 touchdowns will be a challenge. Schroder rushed for 627 yards last season. The running game will set up the passing game. Eldredge has shown potential at QB.

Scarborough

Coach: Lance Johnson, fourth year

Last year: 7-3, lost in Western Maine semifinals

Returning starters: 11

Impact players: Ben Greenberg, sr., QB; Chris Cyr, sr., WR/DB; Dan LeClair, sr., RB/LB; Charlie Raybine, sr., RB/LB; Brendan Smith, sr., TE/DE; Mike Pino, sr., OT/DT; Ken Adams, sr., RB/DB; Jake MacDonald, sr., C/LB

Outlook: The Red Storm have some talented athletes and football players who should keep the team in playoff contention. Greenberg was the backup QB last year but has all the tools -- size, speed and arm -- to have an outstanding season. Cyr has size and speed and should be a top receiver. LeClair and Raybine give Scarborough two top runners to complement the passing game. The key to the season will be how well the line performs. If everything comes together, the Red Storm could be a top-four team in the region.

South Portland

Coach: Steve Stinson, ninth year

Last year: 2-6

Returning starters: 16

Impact players: Duncan Preston, sr., QB/DB; Josh Allen, sr., OL/LB; Jordan Susi, sr., WR/DB; Marcus Mainit, sr., OL/LB; Joey DiBiase, sr., RB/DB; Matt Hammond, jr., RB/LB; Matt Stearns, jr., WR/DB; Hayden Owen, jr., WR/DB; Jaren Muller, jr., TE/DL; Ismail Baez, jr., OL/DL

Outlook: The Red Riots were impressive in the summer passing league with Preston at QB, and receivers Susi, Owen, Stearns and Muller. Preston is a dual threat as a passer and runner. The Riots return most of their team from last season, including tailback DiBiase, and are looking to be one of the six playoff teams in Western Class A. The line will need to keep improving to enhance South Portland's playoff chances.

Thornton Academy

Coach: Kevin Kezal, 14th year

Last year: 11-1, state champion

Returning starters: 7

Impact players: Andrew Libby, sr., RB/DB; Cody Lynn, sr., TE/DB; Jack Grondin, sr., OG/LB; Jordan Matthews, sr., C/LB; Jesse Meikle, sr., FB/LB; Robert Runnells, sr., TE/DB; Carter Davis, sr., WR/DB; Kevin Barrett, jr., WR/LB; Ashton Lloyd, jr., OT/DT; D'Andre Morgan, Jr., OG/DT; Tyler Fleurant, jr., C/LB; Jimmy Remmes, jr., C/LB; Ben Zuke, jr., OT/DT; Owen Elliott, so., FB/LB; Austin McCrum, so., QB/DB.

Outlook: The Golden Trojans will be led by Libby, the 2012 Maine Sunday Telegram player of the year. Like last year, the offense will give the ball to Libby as much as possible. Thornton graduated several starters from last year's championship team, so filling those positions could go a long way in determining its chances of repeating. That's true in the offensive line, where only two starters are back. Thornton was dealing with injuries during the preseason. When healthy, this team should be one of the best.

Windham

Coach: Matt Perkins, 12th year

Last year: 4-5, lost in Western Maine quarterfinals

Returning starters: 4

Impact players: Liam Sullivan, sr., RB/DB; Ethan Petty, sr., OL/LB; Sam Pattee, sr., FB/LB; Cody Hill, sr. OL/DL; Josh Bockus, sr., WR/DB

Outlook: The Eagles have moved to Eastern Class A. How the underclassmen develop could determine the success of the season. Sullivan saw time at running back and started at defensive back a year ago. Petty is also a returning starter and a good one. Perkins liked the players' work ethic in preseason and looks for it to carry over to the season. The Eagles have talent in the sophomore and junior classes. The key is for them to mature every week. Windham would be disappointed if if doesn't make the playoffs.

• 15 PLAYERS TO WATCH

Joe Bissonnette, Bonny Eagle, senior, wide receiver: Bissonnette is a returning all-conference receiver for the Scots. He gives the team an outside threat in the spread offense.

Chris Cyr, Scarborough, senior, wide receiver: Cyr will provide a big, strong and speedy target for Ben Greenberg.

Joe Fitzpatrick, Cheverus, junior, running back: Fitzpatrick got limited carries last season but when he did carry, he showed an explosive style that should help the Stags.

Ben Greenberg, Scarborough, senior, quarterback: Greenberg has waited his turn to start. He has a strong arm and will add a dimension to the offense as a runner.

Ethan Jordan, Cheverus, senior, quarterback: Jordan has a strong and accurate arm, and looks to follow in the footsteps of recent standouts at QB for the Stags.

Capen Macomber, Biddeford, junior, fullback: Macomber played in Florida last year and returned to Biddeford, where his father is the line coach of the Tigers. He's the fullback for the team's wishbone.

Andrew Libby, Thornton Academy, senior, running back: Libby sparked the Golden Trojans to the Class A state title. He was named the Maine Sunday Telegram's Player of the Year.

Cody Lynn, Thornton Academy, senior, tight end: Lynn was a key player for Thornton in its drive to the state title a year ago and he figures to be just as important, if not more, this season.

Cody O'Brien, Cheverus, senior, fullback: O'Brien saw a lot of action running the ball and playing linebacker. He should get more carries this season.

Jayvon Pitts-Young, Portland, senior, running back: He gives Portland another top runner. Pitts-Young, who can also play QB, rushed for more than 500 yards.

Duncan Preston. South Portland, senior, quarterback: Preston is one of the top quarterbacks in Western Class A as a passer and runner. He has some good receivers as targets.

Josh Schroder, Sanford, senior, running back: Schroder rushed for 627 yards as the Spartans' second-leading rusher last year. He should be the team's top runner.

Liam Sullivan, Windham, senior, running back: A two-year starter at defensive back, Sullivan gets to showcase his running ability at halfback.

Jon Woods, Bonny Eagle, senior, running back: Woods is a transfer from Gorham, where he was the team's top runner. He fits into Bonny Eagle's plans nicely.

Joe Zukowski, Portland, senior, running back: Zukowski gained more than 1,000 yards for the Bulldogs. He will be one of the team's offensive stalwarts.

• FIVE TEAMS TO WATCH

1. Thornton Academy: The Golden Trojans lost 15 seniors, but there's enough talent left to make a run at a second consecutive Class A title. Thornton again will be led by RB Andrew Libby, who was named All-State and the Maine Sunday Telegram's Player of the Year last season. Like then, the offense will give the ball to Libby as much as possible. Cody Lynn is one of the state's top players as a tight end and defensive back.

2. Cheverus: The Stags move to Eastern Maine, and those teams will soon find out what the SMAA has known for the last few years -- Cheverus is that good. Despite some graduation losses, the Stags should be a contender in their new division. Cheverus has size and speed with talent at the skill positions. The line has two starters back and a lot of potential.

3. Bonny Eagle: The Scots are bent on returning to the playoffs after missing them last season for the first time in 10 years. The team has been strengthened by the transfer of running back Jon Woods from Gorham. Also, Ben Malloy, a top basketball player for the Scots, is playing football for the first time since middle school. His size will be welcome at split end. Zach Dubiel is the starting QB and has experience running the spread offense.

4. South Portland: The Red Riots were impressive in the summer passing league with QB Duncan Preston throwing to a fleet group of receivers. TB Joey DiBiase will be a key to the running game. South Portland could be ready to move up in the rankings. A tough opening schedule will be a test.

5. Portland: The Bulldogs look to build on last year's playoff season. They will do it in Eastern Class A, where they have moved to help balance the two regions. Portland has talent in the backfield with Joe Zukowski, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season, and Jayvon Pitts-Young, who gained 500 yards.

-- Tom Chard, Staff Writer

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Additional Photos

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Zach Dubiel has experience avoiding tacklers while running the spread offense, and at quarterback is looking to direct Bonny Eagle back to the playoffs it missed last season.

2012 Press Herald File/Gregory Rec

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Last season Jon Woods was breaking away from Bonny Eagle players while running the ball for Gorham. This year, after transferring, he’ll be one of the Scots.

2011 Pres Herald File/John Ewing

 


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