The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » Varsity Maine http://www.pressherald.com Thu, 08 Dec 2016 14:04:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.6 Wednesday’s girls’ hockey roundup: Scarborough skates to tie http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/07/wednesdays-girls-hockey-roundup-scarborough-skates-to-tie/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/07/wednesdays-girls-hockey-roundup-scarborough-skates-to-tie/#comments Thu, 08 Dec 2016 04:03:52 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/07/wednesdays-girls-hockey-roundup-scarborough-skates-to-tie/ AUBURN — Lauren Topchik scored with 1:16 left in the third period as the Scarborough girls’ hockey team skated to a 2-2 tie with Edward Little/Leavitt/Poland on Wednesday at the Norway Savings Bank Arena.

Madi Simard scored in the first period to give the Red Hornets a 1-0 lead.

Taylor Veilleux tied it in the second period, before Mariah Vaillancourt gave the Red Hornets the lead back 3:30 into the third.

FALMOUTH 6, CAPE ELIZABETH/WAYNFLETE/SOUTH PORTLAND 1: Evie Clement scored twice in the opening two minutes, setting the tone for a Yachtsmen (4-0) victory over the Capers (2-2) in Falmouth.

Kayla Sarazin, Reade Carmichael and Caroline Proctor scored for Falmouth in the second period, and Stone Carmichael upped the lead to 6-0 in the third.

Kate Ginder scored the lone goal for Cape Elizabeth.

Ali Hurdman stopped 11 shots in net for the Yachtsmen. Cape goalie Abby Joy made 36 saves.

LEWISTON/MONMOUTH/OAK HILL 6, GORHAM/BONNY EAGLE/WINDHAM 4: Jordan Mynahan scored three goals in the third period as the Blue Devils (2-1) rallied to beat the Rams (2-2) in Lewiston.

Lewiston led 2-1 after the first period as Veda Leclerc and Andri Roy sandwiched goals around a score by Gorham’s Celia Begonia.

However, Gorham outscored Lewiston 3-1 in the second period to take a 4-3 lead into the final 15 minutes. Gorham’s Karen Stemm and Lewiston’s Katie Lemieux exchanged goals before Anna Nault and Begonia and tallied to put Gorham ahead.

ST. DOMINIC 12, MT. ARARAT/MORSE 0: Avery Lutrzykowski scored three times to help the Saints (3-0) beat Mt. Ararat/Morse (0-5) in Auburn.

Kristina Cornelio and Dasha Fons added two goals each, while Lexie Kesaris, Izzy Frenette, Madison Samson, Emma Theriault and Bugsy Hammerton scored the others.

St. Dom’s goalie Payton Winslow stopped both shots she faced. Lily Schenk had 27 saves in two period for Mt. Ararat/Morse.

WINSLOW/GARDINER 5, BRUNSWICK 4: Julie Hinkley scored less than a minute into overtime and the Black Tigers (2-2) beat the Dragons (1-2) in Kents Hill.

Jenna Brooks scored three straight goals, including the tying goal with 55 seconds left, as the Dragons rallied from three goals down in the final six minutes to send the game to overtime.

Brooks scored all four of Brunswick’s goals.

Sarah Morgan scored later in the first for Winslow/Gardiner. Hinkley scored twice in the third and Anna Chadwick had one as the Black Tigers appeared to take control.

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MPA seeks way to help struggling high school football programs http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/05/mpa-seeks-way-to-help-struggling-high-school-football-programs/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/05/mpa-seeks-way-to-help-struggling-high-school-football-programs/#comments Tue, 06 Dec 2016 02:23:07 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1119381 AUGUSTA — Changes could come to Maine high school football next season, although nothing was decided Monday at a meeting of the Maine Principals’ Association football committee.

The committee met with coaches and athletic directors from the state’s eight conferences for more than 2 hours, brainstorming ways to make the sport more competitive and help programs near collapse.

“I just don’t think we can stay idle,” said Dan O’Connell, the John Bapst coach.

Over the last few seasons, schools have seen participation numbers fall, some schools dropping varsity teams for club or junior varsity status.

Varsity teams at Sacopee Valley, Telstar, Camden Hills and Boothbay Region are gone, and some other schools may be in jeopardy of not having enough players to field a team next season.

Some larger schools also report dwindling numbers.

Mike Burnham, an assistant executive director of the MPA and liaison to the football committee, said he took calls from two Class B schools struggling with low participation last season. A lack of competitive balance is a common problem in each of the state’s four classes, Burnham said.

“We can’t lose sight of (the fact) there were 21 schools with two or fewer wins (this past season),” Burnham said.

Among solutions discussed were expanding to five classes, adding a developmental league or playing seven-, eight-, or nine-man football, or tiering schedules as is done in hockey.

“With tiers similar to hockey, ultimately you get more competitive games. I think Winslow this year would much rather have played Skowhegan than John Bapst,” O’Connell said, pointing to his team’s 56-6 loss to the powerful Black Raiders.

A tiered schedule would encourage teams to play cross-class games, although consensus was a change would need to be made to the playoff formula.

Playoff seeding is done using Crabtree points, which take into account a team’s record and the record of its opponents.

Crabtree Points don’t account for competing against schools in a different class. The lack of a points incentive was a reason Wells didn’t play cross-class games, said Coach Tim Roche.

“There’s no benefit for us to do that,” he said.

Added Kennebunk Coach Joe Rafferty: “I’m going to need a big incentive to go to (Class A) Thornton (Academy).”

Since the introduction of four classes in 2013, Rafferty’s team has enjoyed success in Class B, reaching the state final in 2013 and this past season.

“When we were in Class A, we went 4-4 twice. Now we go to Class B, we have success. Not a lot has changed with our program,” he said.

An eight- or nine-game football schedule also makes it more difficult to be more creative.

“There’s a lot more flexibility in hockey and basketball because of 18 games. It’s going to be hard with a limited schedule,” Lewiston Athletic Director Jason Fuller said.

Fuller suggested seven-, eight-, or nine-man football for programs struggling to find players to field a competitive team of 11.

“We’ve never tried something completely out of the box,” Fuller said. “It gives them a product nobody else has. It’s very innovative.”

Winthrop Athletic Director Joel Stoneton said he doesn’t think struggling and smaller schools are interested in competing with fewer players.

There was some support for adding a fifth class, including from Roche, whose Wells team won the Class C state title last month. With fewer teams playing in each class, scheduling crossover games between the North and South would be a necessity. Wells played northern teams in the past and would do so again if it meant more competitive games.

“While I don’t like to travel, I like to play Winslow,” Roche said.

Bonny Eagle Coach Kevin Cooper said the problem is less about the number of classes and more about competitive balance.

“Class fixes nothing, in my opinion. You can have five classes or three classes. It’s just putting tiles in a bag and shaking them up,” said Cooper, whose team won the Class A state title last month. “It’s all about scheduling. The more we do creative scheduling, the more Crabtree points don’t work.”

Cooper said whatever is done for 2017, it must help struggling programs.

“Sacopee Valley should be saved. They should have a thriving football program,” Cooper said.

Lower football participation is also a by-product of smaller schools in general, said an MPA assistant executive director, Gerry Durgin.

The committee hopes to have a plan for 2017 by mid-February, when the MPA wants to send it to all schools for feedback.

The full membership then will hold a vote on an alignment in April.

CORRECTION: This story was updated on Dec. 6 at 4:15 p.m. to clarify that some schools may be in jeopardy of not having enough players to field a football team next season.

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Sports Digest: York’s Posternak named Miss Maine Field Hockey http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/05/yorks-posternak-named-miss-maine-field-hockey/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/05/yorks-posternak-named-miss-maine-field-hockey/#comments Mon, 05 Dec 2016 14:32:17 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/05/yorks-posternak-named-miss-maine-field-hockey/ HIGH SCHOOLS

York’s Posternak honored as best in field hockey

Lily Posternak of York was named the winner of the Miss Maine Field Hockey award, presented to the state’s top high school senior.

Posternak, a two-time Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year, led the Wildcats to consecutive Class B state championships and a 51-game winning streak. She holds school career records with 77 goals and 50 assists, and will play at Duke.

Coach Paula Doughty of Skowhegan, who notched her 500th career victory this fall, also was honored. She led the Indians to the Class A title, her 17th state championship.

The awards were announced Sunday at the Maine Field Hockey Association’s annual banquet in Augusta.

COLLEGES

MEN’S BASKETBALL: University of Maine freshman Andrew Fleming was named America East Rookie of the Week.

Fleming, a graduate of Oxford Hills High, scored a career-high 20 points with eight rebounds Wednesday against Central Connecticut State. He also had six rebounds and two steals Saturday at Duke.

SOCCER

BRAZIL: Brazil will play Colombia in a friendly match at the end of January to help victims of the air crash that killed most of the players, staff and directors of soccer club Chapecoense last week.

Nineteen of Chapecoense’s players were killed in the crash just outside Medellin, Colombia.

FIFA: Sepp Blatter said he has lost his appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against a six-year ban by FIFA.

Blatter says in a statement it is “difficult” to accept but that “the way the case progressed, no other verdict could be expected.”

The former FIFA president, who was banned for approving a $2 million payment to Michel Platini in 2011, said he will accept the decision and not appeal to Switzerland’s Supreme Court.

AUTO RACING

FORMULA ONE: The French Grand Prix will return to the Formula One calendar in 2018 after a 10-year absence.

Christian Estrosi, head of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region, said the race will be organized at the Paul Ricard circuit in southern France.

The world’s oldest grand prix was first held in 1906 but was dropped from the calendar in 2008 because of financial issues.

The Paul Ricard circuit last hosted the French GP in 1990.

BASEBALL

WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and previous MVPs Buster Posey and Andrew McCutchen are among the top players confirmed to play for the United States at the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Major League Baseball announced the initial list of 30 players set for the tournament, which takes place in March. Among them are 24 All-Stars.

Joining Scherzer, Posey and McCutchen for the U.S. are right-handed pitcher Chris Archer, third baseman Nolan Arenado and outfielder Adam Jones.

Manny Machado, Robinson Cano, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz and Dellin Betances will play for the defending champion Dominican Republic. Felix Hernandez will pitch for Venezuela, which will also have Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Gonzalez on its roster.

MLB: Baseball’s new labor contract bans tobacco chew among players with no current major league service time. The death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn at age 54 two years ago shook up many in the industry.

– Staff and news service report

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Saturday’s girls’ hockey roundup: Falmouth shuts out York http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/03/saturdays-girls-hockey-roundup-falmouth-shuts-out-york/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/03/saturdays-girls-hockey-roundup-falmouth-shuts-out-york/#comments Sun, 04 Dec 2016 00:42:51 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/03/saturdays-girls-hockey-roundup-falmouth-shuts-out-york/ ROCHESTER, N.H. — Reade Carmichael and Evie Clement teamed up for a pair of first-period goals as Falmouth skated to a 4-0 win over York/Traip Academy in a girls’ hockey game Saturday at Rochester Ice Arena.

Abi Lebel opened the scoring 4:06 into the game, with an assist from Devon Sarazin. Carmichael made it 2-0 just 13 seconds later, then set up Clement’s goal at 12:19.

Caroline Proctor scored a power-play goal at 12:19 of the second period, with Sarazin’s picking up her second assist.

Falmouth improved to 3-0, while York fell to 2-1.

SCARBOROUGH 9, YARMOUTH/FREEPORT/GRAY-NEW GLOUCESTER 2: Lucy Bogdanovich scored a pair of first-period goals as the Red Storm (2-0) built a 4-0 lead and cruised past Yarmouth/Freeport/Gray-New Gloucester (1-2) at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.

Bogdanovich finished with three goals, Taylor Veilleux also recorded a hat trick, and Lauren Topchik added two goals and an assist. Ivy DiBiase was credited with four assists.

Katie Clemmer and Caroline Grant scored for Yarmouth.

GREELY 11, WINSLOW/GARDINER 0: Courtney Sullivan scored four goals to lead the Rangers (2-1) past the Black Raiders (1-2) in Hallowell.

Bridget Roberts added a pair of goals, Emilee McGillicuddy and Victoria Lattanzi each had a goal and two assists, and Ellie Schad, Danielle Holt and Molly Horton also scored.

Dominique Valazquez made 19 saves for Winslow/Gardiner. Nica Todd stopped all 11 shots she faced for the Rangers.

GORHAM/BONNY EAGLE/WINDHAM 5, MT. ARARAT/MORSE 0: Celia Begonia had two goals and two assists for the Rams (2-1) in a win over the Eagles (0-4) at USM Arena.

CC Cochran added a goal and an assist, and Anna Rathburn scored a third-period goal.

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Girls’ hockey: Capers finally break through in OT http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/03/girls-hockey-capers-finally-break-through-in-ot/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/03/girls-hockey-capers-finally-break-through-in-ot/#comments Sun, 04 Dec 2016 00:01:52 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/03/girls-hockey-capers-finally-break-through-in-ot/ BIDDEFORD — Despite putting a lot of shots on net, the Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland girls’ hockey team frustratingly had nothing to show for it and skated into overtime Saturday afternoon locked in a scoreless tie against Biddeford/Thornton Academy.

Senior captain Eliza Connolly, who helped anchor the Capers’ defense throughout, turned all of that frustration into elation when she took a puck the length of the ice and put in a wrist shot to give her team a 1-0 victory at Biddeford Ice Arena.

“I saw them changing lines as I gained possession behind our net,” said Connolly. “As I was skating through our zone, I heard Coach yell ‘keep to the right, keep to the right,’ so I angled off that way and got by two of the forwards. When I got by the last defender, I just took a shot.”

She let the puck fly from near the top of the right faceoff circle, sending a perfectly placed shot over the right shoulder of goalie Bekah Guay and just inside the post.

“She’s been given a green light. When she sees space and has the time, she know she can go for it and she made a good decision at the end,” said Cape Coach Bob Mills.

“I’m thrilled for her. She’s been battling through some injuries this week and she still came out and brought a ton of energy to this game today. She’s a captain and she led the team in every way possible.”

The game was scoreless through regulation largely due to the impressive play of both goalies. Guay made 39 saves, while Abby Joy turned away 31 shots.

“I think Rebekah for Biddeford and Abby for us are two of the top goaltenders in the state,” said Mills. “The goaltending position is getting better every year, but today showed why I think they’re among the best. We knew we were going to have to take a lot of shots and we had a feeling it would be a rebound or some sort of sloppy goal to win it, and we’re just happy we got the win.

Guay turned away 11 shots in the first period, including three on a power play in the final minute. Joy was equally effective, making eight saves, two of which came on breakaways.

Both came up big again in the second period. Joy saw less action than Guay, facing just seven shots, but came up with saves three times after Cape found itself on the wrong end of an odd-man rush.

She also made a pair of tough saves on a Biddeford power play at the end of the period.

The Capers did a good job of getting the puck on net during the second period, but Guay made 15 saves – including a breakaway late in the period.

Biddeford opened the third still on a power play and sent three shots toward Joy in the opening minute, but she made a pair of stick saves before snagging a shot with her glove. She turned away 11 shots in the period and six more in overtime.

Cape was able to put 12 more shots on net against Guay, who stopped scoring threats on a pair of odd-man rushes, including a sliding stick save with two minutes to go against a three-on-one rush.

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Girls’ hockey: Falmouth triumphs in overtime http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/30/girls-hockey-falmouth-triumphs-in-overtime/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/30/girls-hockey-falmouth-triumphs-in-overtime/#comments Thu, 01 Dec 2016 04:41:12 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/30/girls-hockey-falmouth-triumphs-in-overtime/ FALMOUTH — Evie Clement has grown up around Falmouth hockey, watching her older brothers Julien and Andre play for the Yachtsmen.

She continued to add to the family’s legacy Wednesday night, scoring 9 seconds into overtime as Falmouth defeated Cheverus-Kennebunk-Old Orchard Beach 6-5 in a girls’ hockey game at Family Ice Center.

It was the second goal of the game for Clement and produced a victory after the Yachstmen (2-0), who saw a late three-goal lead evaporate.

“She’s an all-around player,” said Coach Rob Carrier.

“She’s had some really talented brothers to look up to and learn from, and she just carries their same mentality into the games that we play. Her brothers wore the Falmouth jersey in years past, and she’s watched them and learned, and just brings a hard-edged attitude to every game.”

The Yachtsmen won the opening faceoff in overtime and as they funneled down the ice, Sarah Noyes shot toward the net.

A rebound came off toward Clement, who drove it home.

“We knew we just needed to come out fast and beat them to the puck on the first drop,” said Clement. “Once Sarah got the puck and saw the space to take it, she took the opportunity and got the shot off quick. She kind of got them on their heels, and it was a lucky bounce to me and I’m just glad I was able to put it home.

Clement notched the first goal just under six minutes into the game when she redirected a pass from Grace Fallon, who had kept a bouncing puck in the offensive end before dishing out the assist.

A Falmouth defensive mistake in its end resulted in the puck bouncing straight to Abby Lamontagne of Cheverus/Kennebunk/Old Orchard Beach (0-2), who had a clear path to the net.

She unleashed a wrist shot into the top right corner to tie it with just over three minutes left in the first.

In the second period, the Yachtsmen put 14 shots on goals, and Anna Smith made 12 of her 30 saves.

The Sarazin sisters – sophomore Kayla and senior Devon – accounted for the two shots that beat Smith in the second.

Kayla Sarazin scored from Clement just over three minutes into the period and Devon Sarazin put home another goal exactly one minute later from Abi Lebel.

“They’re a couple of dynamic players,” said Carrier of the sisters. “They’re phenomenal lacrosse players who bring the understanding of a fluid game to hockey. It really pays off for us. They can skate with the puck, they can make great passes and they can score.”

Lebel made it 4-1 with just under seven minutes to play in the third period on a power play. Kayla Sarazin had the assist.

The Stags got one back less than a minute later when Olivia Adams scored to make it 4-2.

On the next possession, Caroline Proctor cycled a puck through to Devon Sarazin, who connected with Stone Carmichael in front.

Carmichael sent a shot past Smith to give the Yachtsmen another three-goal lead.

Lamontagne then proceed to score three more times in just over three minutes to make it 5-5 and send the game to overtime before Clement’s winner.

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Semifinalists named for 46th annual Fitzpatrick Trophy http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/30/semifinalists-named-for-46th-annual-fitzpatrick-trophy/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/30/semifinalists-named-for-46th-annual-fitzpatrick-trophy/#comments Wed, 30 Nov 2016 16:54:42 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/30/semifinalists-named-for-46th-annual-fitzpatrick-trophy/ A combination of fate, talent, and good teammates put Dylan Bolduc into select company he never expected.

Bolduc, a running back and linebacker at Portland High, was one of the 11 semifinalists announced Wednesday for the 46th James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy, presented annually since 1971 to the top senior high school football player in Maine.

Other semifinalists selected by the Fitzpatrick Trophy Committee are Keenan Collett, Orono; Joey Curit, Biddeford; Cameron Day, Bonny Eagle; Riley Dempsey, Wells; Jesse Devereaux, Brunswick; Ben Ekedahl, Cape Elizabeth; Michael Laverriere, Thornton Academy; Francis McSweeney, Skowhegan; Makao Thompson, Mt. Blue; and Trey Wood, Brewer.

“I never really thought about the Fitzy,” said Bolduc, who started the season as a defensive back and fullback. “I was more worried about the state championship. That was really the goal.”

Portland came up one win shy, losing to Bonny Eagle 34-14 in the Class A championship game. Bolduc’s ability to shift roles after starting tailback Nick Archambault was injured in the third game of the season was essential to the Bulldogs’ success.

“It just shows how talented the team was as a whole,” Bolduc said. “You can’t excel as a single player. You have to have a good team.”

The state’s head coaches and media members have until Dec. 12 to vote for their top three choices. The top three vote-getters will be announced soon after and invited to the award banquet, where the winner will be announced Jan. 15 at the Holiday Inn By the Bay in Portland.

“I’ve been to the dinner every year in high school,” said Laverriere, Thornton’s hard-running quarterback. “My freshman year I went home that night knowing I wanted to be in that position when I was a senior. It was a good goal to look forward to and hopefully to be there by my senior year.”

“It’s just something you can work toward,” said Curit, Biddeford’s quarterback. “Obviously you have team goals. You aspire to win championships and games but a goal like this helps you to drive the rest of your team because you need a strong team to be considered for individual awards.”

Jack Dawson, the general chairman of the Fitzpatrick Trophy committee, said nominees were judged on on-field performance, academics, and service within school and the community. Football performance, judged through 10 statistical categories, accounts for 70 percent of a nominee’s valuation.

Last season’s winner was Joe Esposito of Portland.

Bolduc was at the dinner to cheer on Esposito. Now he’s a candidate for a spot at the Fitzpatrick front table.

“I didn’t really think that would be the scenario coming into the season but it would be a great honor,” Bolduc said.

Here’s a closer look at each semifinalist:

n Bolduc rushed for 1,257 yards and 15 touchdowns, and made 106 tackles. He also added 400 receiving yards with two scores, intercepted five passes and played on special teams. Bolduc has a 96 (out of 100) grade-point average, is a member of the Key Club, has volunteered at the Preble Street soup kitchen and been a peer tutor.

n Collett, a fullback/linebacker, rushed for 1,009 yards (7.5 per carry) and 23 touchdowns, and caught 35 passes for 723 yards and nine TDs. On defense he made 97 tackles, 67 solo. Collett has a 93.3 GPA, is president of Orono’s National Honor Society, a member of the math team and French club, received a volunteer with distinction award and represented Orono at Boys State.

n Curit, the Tigers’ quarterback and safety, and Class B South Player of the Year, completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,015 yards and 10 touchdowns, and rushed for 701 yards and five scores. He made 56 tackles, intercepted three passes and recovered two fumbles. He also helped on special teams. Ranked fourth in his class of 191 students with a 4.16 GPA (on a 4.0 scale), Curit is a member of the student council, National Honor Society, Interact, and plays hockey and baseball.

n Day led the Scots to the Class A championship as a dual-threat quarterback and played safety. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 733 yards and 12 touchdowns, and rushed for over 940 yards with 12 scores. Day carries a 2.92 GPA, is on the lacrosse team and does volunteer work with various groups.

n Dempsey, a running back, defensive back and key special teams contributor, rarely came off the field for the Class C champion Warriors. He rushed for over 700 yards and 19 touchdowns. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound captain was also the team’s long-snapper. He has a 92 academic average and is a busy community service volunteer.

n Devereaux, a running back/linebacker and the Class B North Player of the Year, rushed for 790 yards (9.0 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns, and also threw for two scores while adding 100 receiving yards. The defensive leader for the Class B champion Dragons, he made 20 of his 76 tackles behind the line, including four sacks. Devereaux has an 84 GPA, plays basketball, and has done considerable community service through Action Team, a program sponsored by Major League Baseball.

n Ekedahl, a wide receiver/safety, rushed for 295 yards and four touchdowns, and gained 610 receiving yards with six touchdowns. He also returned a kick for a score and made 62 tackles with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He has an 88 academic average, plays lacrosse and hockey, and is a youth sports volunteer.

n Laverriere, a quarterback/safety, rushed for 1,384 yards and 20 touchdowns, and scored a receiving touchdown. He completed 49 of 86 passes for 813 yards and another seven scores in his first season as Thornton’s quarterback. He was in on 63 tackles, five for loss and intercepted three passes. A 3.5 GPA student, Laverriere is ranked in the top 10 percent of his class of 391 students, is a Key Club member, a peer tutor, and volunteers in youth sports and fundraisers.

n McSweeney was a prolific passer, completing 168 of 319 attempts for 2,433 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also rushed for 457 yards and six scores, and was the kicker and punter. In the last four games at defensive back, he led Skowhegan in tackles. McSweeney is involved in a variety of activities, including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, drama, music, Key Club and peer tutoring.

n Thompson, a tailback and cornerback, rushed for 780 yards and seven touchdowns, and caught 10 passes for 116 yards and a score. He was in on 23 tackles with one interception. With a 96.7 academic average, Thompson plays baseball and basketball, is a member of the National Honor Society and is active with Special Olympics.

n Wood, a bruising tailback/linebacker, rushed for 2,014 yards and scored 27 touchdowns, and eight 2-point conversions. He made 83 tackles with an interception and three fumble recoveries. Wood plays hockey, runs track, and volunteers with fundraisers, youth sports and other outdoor projects.

CORRECTION: This story was updated on Dec. 2 at 1:48 p.m. to clarify the extraurricular and community service activities for Brunswick High’s Jesse Devereaux.

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Saturday’s high school roundup: St. Dominic wins girls’ hockey opener http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/26/saturdays-high-school-roundup-st-dominic-wins-girls-hockey-opener/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/26/saturdays-high-school-roundup-st-dominic-wins-girls-hockey-opener/#comments Sun, 27 Nov 2016 01:52:18 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/26/saturdays-high-school-roundup-st-dominic-wins-girls-hockey-opener/ FALMOUTH — St. Dominic scored three power-play goals in the first period Saturday night and went on to a 9-2 victory against Greely in a girls’ hockey opener at Family Ice Center.

Kristina Cornelio (three goals) opened the scoring on a five-on-three advantage with 5:35 left in the first period on a pass from Emma Theriault for the Saints.

On the ensuing faceoff, the puck bounced straight to Theriault, who skated down the slot and scored on a wrist shot to make it 2-0.

St. Dom’s tacked on its third power-play goal of the period with 2:43 remaining, when Theriault connected with Isabelle Frenette, who finished for a three-goal lead.

“This was a tough first test and against this team, that basically made it impossible,” said Greely Coach Nate Guerin. “You’re going to struggle to keep up with them five-on-five, so if it’s five-on-four or five-on three, you have almost no chance. We spent a lot of energy killing penalties, so by the time we were back to five-on-five our girls were pretty beat.”

The Saints opened the second period still on a power play following a Greely boarding penalty late in the first, and notched their fourth power-play goal just over a minute in. Bugsy Hammerton scored from Avery Lutraykowski and Frenette.

Three minutes later, Hammerton made 5-0, scoring off a pass from Lutraykowski. Cornelio was also credited with an assist.

Cornelio then scored with 2:06 left from Lutraykowski and Frenette.

Greely scored with 13:13 remaining when Courtney Sullivan used impressive stickhandling to maneuver around the last line of the Saints defense. Her wrist shot found the top right corner.

St. Dom’s added a goal with just over 11 minutes to play when a Frenette slap shot found its way over the blocker of goalie Nica Todd, who turned away 38 shots, including 15 in the second period.

“Unbelievable effort,” said Guerin. “She was our best player tonight, even if the scoreboard didn’t necessarily show it. She made a lot of quality saves against tough chances.

“Even when we were down 4-0, with the way she was playing, we felt like if we could get the next one we’d be right back in it. Going back in the (penalty) box took the wind out of our sails more than once.”

Cornelio tacked on a score with just over five minutes to play for the Saints, and Sullivan notched a breakaway goal for the Rangers less than a minute later.

Hammerton completed a hat trick with just under a minute to play, scoring on Lutraykowski’s fourth assist.

BRUNSWICK 7, YARMOUTH/FREEPORT/GRAY-NEW GLOUCESTER 2: Jenna Brooks scored five goals and assisted on the other two while carrying Brunswick to a season-opening victory at Yarmouth.

Kate Clemmer scored twice for Yarmouth/Freeport/Gray-New Gloucester.

FALMOUTH 4, CAPE ELIZABETH/WAYNFLETE/SOUTH PORTLAND 0: Sarah Noyes and Devon Sarazin opened the scoring with second-period goals, and Stone Carmichael had two in the third as the Yachtsmen won an opener at Portland.

YORK/TRAIP ACADEMY 4, CHEVERUS /KENNEBUNK/OLD ORCHARD BEACH 1: Molly Rohrer had two goals and an assist in an opener in Portland.

NEW ENGLAND CROSS COUNTRY

Seniors Abby Hamilton of Yarmouth High and Katherine Leggat-Barr of Greely placed 20th and 25th, respectively, at the Foot Locker Northeast regional cross country championship race Saturday at Van Cortlandt Park in New York.

Among the boys, Yarmouth junior Luke Laverdiere placed 38th. The top 10 finishers in each race earned trips to San Diego for the national championships.

Hamilton finished in 18:51 with Leggat-Barr six seconds back. Emily Carty, a Fryeburg Academy junior, placed 60th in 20:03 among a field of 92.

Laverdiere said he was among the top six or seven through two miles of the 3.1-mile race before fading. “At the two-mile mark everyone kind of surged,” he said. “There was a big downhill and I couldn’t respond. I’m kind of bummed but I think I ran all right.”

Laverdiere finished in 16:35. Henry Jaques of Freeport placed 54th among 139 boys in 16:50.

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Yarmouth’s Hamilton, Laverdiere lead Mainers at Foot Locker Northeast Regional http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/26/yarmouths-hamilton-laverdiere-lead-mainers-at-foot-locker-northeast-regional/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/26/yarmouths-hamilton-laverdiere-lead-mainers-at-foot-locker-northeast-regional/#comments Sat, 26 Nov 2016 18:04:41 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/26/yarmouths-hamilton-laverdiere-lead-mainers-at-foot-locker-northeast-regional/ Seniors Abby Hamilton of Yarmouth High and Katherine Leggat-Barr of Greely placed 20th and 25th, respectively, at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional Cross Country championship race Saturday morning at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, New York.

Among boys, Yarmouth junior Luke Laverdiere placed 38th. The top 10 finishers in each race earned trips to San Diego for the Foot Locker national championships.

Alyssa Aldridge, a junior from Linwood, New Jersey, won the 5-kilometer girls race in 17 minutes, 40 seconds. The cutoff time for San Diego was 18:08.

Hamilton finished in 18:51 with Leggat-Barr six seconds back. Emily Carty, a Fryeburg Academy junior, placed 60th in 20:03 among a field of 92.

Noah Affolder, a senior from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, won the boys race, over the same course, in 15:28. His brother Samuel, a sophomore, was second in 15:36. The 10th-place time was 15:48.

Laverdiere said he was among the top six or seven through two miles of the 3.1-mile race before fading. “At the two-mile mark everyone kind of surged,” he said by phone. “There was a big downhill and I couldn’t respond. I’m kind of bummed, but I think I ran all right.”

Laverdiere finished in 16:35. Freeport senior Henry Jaques placed 54th among the field of 139 boys in 16:50.

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Girls’ hockey players to watch http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/26/girls-hockey-players-to-watch/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/26/girls-hockey-players-to-watch/#comments Sat, 26 Nov 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1115201 Hannah Bosworth, Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland senior forward: Bosworth was a first-team All-South pick last year after scoring 10 goals with 10 assists.

Jenna Brooks, Brunswick sophomore forward: Brooks had a breakout freshman season with 41 goals and 12 assists, making her a first-team All-North selection.

Evie Clement, Falmouth senior forward: An excellent playmaker, Clement was a first-team All-South selection after recording 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) last year.

Kate Clemmer, Yarmouth/Freeport senior forward: Clemmer, a first-team All-North pick last season, scored 21 goals and nine assists for the Clippers.

McKenzie Cormier, Scarborough senior goalie: A student at Sacopee Valley, Cormier had a 92.7 save percentage last year in her first high school competition.

Rebekah Guay, Biddeford senior goalie: Guay was an Maine Sunday Telegram All-State selection last year after facing 30 to 40 shots a game, and still leading the Tigers into the playoffs.

Lily Nygren, Scarborough senior defenseman: The Red Storm’s strength is defense, led by Nygren, a first-team All-South selection, who added three goals and six assists last year.

Ellie Schad, Greely senior defenseman: Another Telegram All-State selection who is strong and fast on both ends of the ice. Last year she scored 26 points (15 goals, 11 assists).

Courtney Sullivan, Greely junior forward: Sullivan may emerge as the most dominant forward in the area. An All-State selection, she totaled 46 points (27 goals, 19 assists) last year.

Nica Todd, Greely senior goalie: Todd, a Telegram All-State selection, is known for her clutch saves as well as her consistency, posting a 1.40 goals-against-average last year.

– Kevin Thomas

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Five girls’ hockey teams to Watch http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/26/five-teams-to-watch/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/26/five-teams-to-watch/#comments Sat, 26 Nov 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1115203 1 Greely (19-1 last year): The Rangers feature three of the best players at their positions (forward Courtney Sullivan, defenseman Ellie Schad and goalie Nica Todd). Greely may be the area’s best team but defending state champion St. Dominic has all its top threats returning. “They will be tough to beat,” Greely Coach Nate Guerin said.

2 Falmouth (15-3-2): The Yachtsmen have another good turnout with 29 players (11 of them freshmen). Some of their top scorers are gone, but centers Evie Clement and Devon Sarazin will fuel the offense. All-South defenseman Caroline Proctor is back and Ally Hurdman provides experience in net.

3 Scarborough (18-2-1): Two-time Telegram Player of the Year Sami Shoebottom has moved on to prep school so the Red Storm may struggle scoring, although forward Lucy Bogdanovich is back. The defense is strong with Lily Nygren and Courtney Brochu in front of goalie McKenzie Cormier.

4 York/Traip Academy (10-10): The Wildcats usually contend, and look improved with the return of defenseman Emma Ford and goalie Sophie Stephens. Five of the team’s top forwards are back, including two players from the top line, Grace Campbell and Katherine Bertolini.

5 Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland (6-13): The Capers have 17 players out and could battle York for third place in the South. Solid scorers Hannah Bosworth returns, as do defensemen Eliza Connolly and Kate Ginder, and goalie Abby Joy.

– Kevin Thomas

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Girls’ hockey preview: Can it be? Biddeford and Thornton Academy together? http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/26/girls-hockey-preview-can-it-be-biddeford-and-thornton-academy-together/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/26/girls-hockey-preview-can-it-be-biddeford-and-thornton-academy-together/#comments Sat, 26 Nov 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1115211 BIDDEFORD — When Thornton Academy players cross the Saco River to play rival Biddeford High in the Biddeford Ice Arena, the atmosphere is loud and spirited. Cheers, boos and maybe a taunt or two between the student sections.

One of the best rivalries in boys’ hockey.

For girls’ hockey, this season Biddeford players and Thornton players gather in the Biddeford Ice Arena – skating together – on the same team.

“This is a big rivalry and it was kind of weird at first,” said Biddeford High senior goalie Rebekah Guay.

“But we’ve got a lot of numbers this year. It’s awesome to know we have that many girls on the ice.”

Biddeford High, which has had its own team since girls’ hockey became a sanctioned sport in 2008-09, had 23 players going into the season. Thornton, which has never fielded a girls’ hockey team, is providing five more players for the new Biddeford/Thornton team.

The idea for the co-op team was Biddeford’s.

“I thought it was a no-brainer for us if we want to maintain these numbers,” said Coach Ashley Potvin. “If we want to get more girls in the area skating, it made sense.”

Of the 16 teams suiting up this season, only four have rosters with players exclusively from their schools – Falmouth, Greely, St. Dominic and Brunswick.

Biddeford has always attracted players – and 23 is larger than most rosters – but Potvin said more is better. Inexperienced players can be eased into varsity play.

“Because of the co-ops, it allows every team to have not just 6-7 junior varsity skaters but 12 to 15,” she said. “Not only does it do wonders for our teams, it does wonders for the sport, getting girls out to play.

“It seems we have gone back to the roots of how girls’ hockey started in Maine. When I was a club player in Biddeford, we had girls from (Thornton), from Massabesic … it was more of a regionalized thing.”

Biddeford, always a popular hockey town, took pride in having its own team. But enrollment has declined (from 934 to 775 the past 10 years), and the sport has not grown.

“The numbers are going down, even on the boys’ side, and they don’t look like they’re getting much better in the very near future,” said Biddeford High Athletic Director Dennis Walton.

“This seemed to make sense. We have experience with co-op with Thornton Academy, but with individual sports – swimming, indoor track, etc. This is our first go-around with an actual combined team. But it’s good for the kids.”

The Biddeford/Thornton jersey features “Tigers” across the front with a maroon and gold Trojans patch on one shoulder.

Biddeford finished 6-12 last year and reached the playoffs, losing in the first round. The Tigers lost this season’s opener Friday, 4-0 to Scarborough.

“Hopefully we’ll go a little further with the help of the (Thornton) girls,” said Guay, a Maine Sunday Telegram All-State choice last year.

Ashley Atwater planned to play another season on the Thornton junior varsity boys’ team, until the co-op team surfaced.

But, playing with Biddeford?

“Uh, this might be a problem,” Atwater thought at first. “But from the first practice, we all got along.”

A camaraderie is developing. But when the girls are not practicing or playing together, they might watch the boys’ teams play.

And when Thornton plays Biddeford? “I’ll sit with Thornton,” Atwater said.

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Portland shuts out Deering in 105th Turkey Day game http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/24/portland-shuts-out-deering-in-105th-turkey-day-game/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/24/portland-shuts-out-deering-in-105th-turkey-day-game/#comments Thu, 24 Nov 2016 19:07:06 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/24/portland-shuts-out-deering-in-105th-turkey-day-game/ On Thanksgiving, the Portland football team was thankful for the chance to end its season on a high note.

After falling to Bonny Eagle 34-14 in the Class A state championship game Saturday, the Bulldogs shut out Deering 41-0 in the 105th Thanksgiving Day game Thursday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“Until you’ve given everything you have to give and then you lose it – it just tears your gut up,” Portland Coach Jim Hartman said. “They’re not sleeping at night. They’re thinking about what happened and what could have been. Now they get the chance to go out as a winner.”

Senior Dylan Bolduc led the Bulldogs (10-2), totaling 129 yards with four touchdowns.

“The state game was a big letdown,” Bolduc said. “To be able to finish on a win – it’s a huge deal.”

Quarterback Issiah Bachelder said this week has been tough for the team. The senior finished Thursday’s game with 48 passing yards and returned an interception for a touchdown.

“All week I was feeling it in my stomach – I wasn’t going to be able to line up with my guys anymore,” Bachelder said. “Going into the game I was very sad. But once we hit the field I was happy to be out there with my guys again.”

The Turkey Day victory is Portland’s fourth straight, and the Bulldogs lead the series, 58-40-7.

Deering (3-7) had not played since losing to Sanford in a Class A South quarterfinal Oct. 29.

“Portland wasn’t the runner-up this year for nothing,” Deering Coach Jason Jackson said. “We’ve kind of been a two-steps-forward, three-steps-back type of team all year. It’s a season we have to learn from.”

In the wake of talk about shutting down the tradition due to poor attendance, Portland Athletic Director Robert O’Leary said this year’s game drew an estimated 1,000 fans – double the number from last year – despite the snowy, cold conditions.

“It’s a great tradition and hopefully they keep it rolling,” Jackson said. “We just need more support.”

In the first half, the Bulldogs capitalized with touchdowns on two fake punts.

With a minute left in the first quarter, the Rams took a risk on fourth-and-7 on their own 8. Portland made the stop and took over on Deering’s 5. Bolduc got it done with a 2-yard dive into the end zone, and Quinn Clarke’s kick for the extra point put the Bulldogs up 7-0.

Clarke made 5 of 6 extra-point attempts.

Portland cushioned that lead in the second quarter. On fourth-and-7 at midfield, the Bulldogs lined up to punt, but Bachelder instead kept the drive alive with a 14-yard pass to Vinnie Pasquali. Penalties cost Deering 15 yards to help set up Bolduc for a 15-yard touchdown run with 2:47 left in the half.

Penalties would continue to hurt Deering, costing the Rams a total of 65 yards.

Portland nearly caught another break when Deering bobbled a punt and the Bulldogs recovered at the Rams’ 18. But with less than 12 seconds left, the Bulldogs couldn’t find the end zone. After a failed field-goal attempt, Portland entered halftime up 13-0.

In the second half, the Bulldogs stuck with what was working. On their opening drive, Bolduc carried 10 of 11 times totaling 61 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown to increase Portland’s lead to 20-0 with 7:26 left in the third.

Less than two minutes later, Bachelder pulled the Bulldogs further ahead when he returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown.

Portland’s success on fourth down continued when Bachelder connected with Bolduc on an 18-yard pass for another first down. Bolduc scored his fourth and final touchdown on the following play, running 25 yards into the end zone. The Bulldogs ended the third quarter up 34-0.

Portland didn’t let up. Following a Pasquali interception, Jake Knop rushed for a 76-yard touchdown with 8:30 left. Portland sustained the 41-0 lead until the end.

“Getting through practice the last few days was really, really hard, and I don’t blame the kids,” Hartman said. “For them to come out and play today the way they did is really a testament to their skill and who they are. I’m really proud of them.”

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Deering plans a Thanksgiving surprise http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/23/deering-plans-a-thanksgiving-surprise/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/23/deering-plans-a-thanksgiving-surprise/#comments Thu, 24 Nov 2016 01:30:01 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/23/deering-plans-a-thanksgiving-surprise/ Deering High’s football team will enter Thursday’s 105th Thanksgiving Day football team with significantly fewer Rams in its herd than when the season started.

But those who have stuck it out all season – including the 25-day layoff since losing to Sanford in the first round of the Class A playoffs – are ready to see how they stack up against rival Portland High.

“It means even more to us this year because we didn’t play Portland in the preseason, we didn’t play them in the regular season and we didn’t touch them in the playoffs,” said Blaize Vail, the team’s junior center and linebacker. “So it’s the one chance, the one opportunity, to play our middle-school friends.”

Kickoff at Fitzpatrick Stadium is at 10:30 a.m.

Both schools’ athletic directors said earlier this week they think the time is right to discuss the continued viability of the Thanksgiving game, which has been an exhibition since 1967. Crowds that were once routinely around 5,000 have dwindled into the hundreds in recent years.

Deering finished its season with a 3-6 record, finishing fifth in the seven-team Class A South region. Portland (9-2) won Class A North and advanced to its second straight state championship game, losing to Bonny Eagle 34-14 on Saturday.

“They just lost a state championship so I expect (Portland) to want to give us the business,” said Deering Coach Jason Jackson.

Deering intends to give it right back.

“Oh, we can beat them. Those are the same kids we grew up with,” said senior running back/linebacker Rob Dacey, who added that his Rams have as much if not more talent than that Bulldogs.

“They got some good coaching,” said Daicy. “They’ve got some stuff working for them. They’ve been playing well in the playoffs but we can handle them. They better come ready.”

Deering started the season with 38 players in the sophomore, junior and senior classes. Of that group, Jackson said between 25 and 30 will be ready to play Thursday.

His freshman class, as a whole, hasn’t practiced since its season ended. At Tuesday’s chilly practic, fewer than 20 players were present, with others attending winter sport tryouts.

“We lost a lot of players during the season for all kinds of different reasons,” Jackson said. “This is a tough game and for some, the grind was just a little much. Others, other things took them off the field. But after that, pretty much everybody we have is out here.”

“These kids, I’m proud to call them my brothers and proud to step on the field with them and wear Deering on my chest,” Vail said.

That group includes first-team all-Class A South defensive tackle Raffaele Salamone and Nate Richards, a first-team pick on offense and second-team choice on defense.

“You lose the first round of the playoffs and the next three weeks you’re thinking about this game,” Salamone said. “We took a week off but since then you’re just out here practicing in the cold looking forward to this game. It’s Portland. You’ve got to look forward to it.”

“Really we’ve had a group of guys that you could tell would stick it out for the whole season,” Richards said. “If they’re passionate about the sport, why not play another game?”

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Portland vs. Deering ‘Turkey Day’ game may be on its last legs http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/23/portland-vs-deering-turkey-day-game-may-be-on-last-legs/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/23/portland-vs-deering-turkey-day-game-may-be-on-last-legs/#comments Wed, 23 Nov 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1114064 Thursday’s edition of the annual Thanksgiving football game between Deering and Portland high schools could mark the end of a tradition dating to 1911.

Officials from both schools plan to discuss whether it is viable to continue the Thanksgiving game, which will be played for the 105th time Thursday. Attendance has dropped dramatically over the past decade.

“I go around and tell people that this might be the last Thanksgiving game,” Portland coach Jim Hartman said. “Then they’ll say, ‘Oh, you can’t do that.’ My next question is, ‘Are you going to the game?’ and they all say, ‘No.’ ”

Big crowds used to be the norm, with attendance estimated at 5,000 and 6,000, respectively, for the 2002 and 2003 Thanksgiving games at Fitzpatrick Stadium. The 1959 game that determined the state championship reportedly drew 13,000. Last year’s game drew about 500 fans.

Proceeds from the game help support athletic programs at both schools, but the event has operated at a loss for several years.

MANY TO PLAY ROLE IN DECISION

“It’s time to review and reflect. We’re just in the beginning steps now,” said Melanie Craig, Deering High’s athletic director. “We will get through Thursday’s game and then it’s time to form a review-and-reflect committee.”

Craig said the discussion needs to involve a variety of “stakeholders,” including coaches, players, former players and fans. She said the game’s future should not be determined solely by herself and Portland athletic director Rob O’Leary.

Players say the Thanksgiving rivalry is worth continuing.

“It’s an important game,” said Portland senior lineman Nick Giaquinto. “It’s a part of Portland High School history, it’s a part of Deering history, it’s a part of Portland as a city.”

“There is value. It’s bragging rights. It’s a tradition,” said Deering junior center and linebacker Blaize Vail. “It’s been going on for 105 years.”

Portland High center Dylan Wike (8), who lined up with his teammates last year, says his father and grandfather played in Thanksgiving Day games. "For me it's such a big deal to carry on the Wike tradition," he said.

Portland High center Dylan Wike (8), who lined up with his teammates last year, says his father and grandfather played in Thanksgiving Day games. “For me it’s such a big deal to carry on the Wike tradition,” he said. File photo/Gordon Chibroski

The series has been played annually with the exception of 1920, when a combination of rain, snow and freezing weather made the field unplayable. It has been an exhibition game since 1967.

Kickoff on Thursday is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Tickets cost $5 for adults and $2 for students, seniors and military personnel.

Portland (9-2) is coming off a 34-14 loss to Bonny Eagle in Saturday’s Class A state championship game. Deering (3-6) has not played for 25 days since losing to Sanford on Oct. 29 in the first round of the Class A North regional.

“To ask a team to sit around for almost four weeks is unfair,” O’Leary said. “Deering hasn’t had a meaningful game and probably not very many meaningful practices because kids are getting ready for their winter sports.

“Portland just played a state championship game and is being asked to come back after four days’ rest, and they don’t do that at any other time of the year. I understand the history and meaning of the game between the two schools, but I definitely think it’s time to put a committee together and look at it.”

Both athletic directors said they are worried that players could be at greater risk of injury because of having either too little or too much time off since their most recent game. Small roster sizes also are a concern. Deering expects to suit up 25-30 players Thursday.

And practices for the winter sports season began Monday.

“Let’s be honest, my basketball player is playing hoops,” Craig said. “Honestly, most of my team has already moved on to their winter sport.”

These are not new issues, said Mike Bailey, head coach at Portland from 1986-2011. He said his average roster size was in the mid-40s. Players also had extended time off when his teams struggled, and just a few days to prepare when Portland won the 2002 championship.

SCHOOL POPULATIONS, RECEIPTS DOWN

Student enrollment has decreased by 27 percent at Portland High and 28 percent at Deering since 2006-07. Portland has 780 students this fall and Deering has 897.

“I came in as a teacher with the Class of 1967 and they had over 700 kids in their (senior) class, and that’s about what we have at (all grades of) Portland High School now,” said Peter Gribbin, a retired history teacher and unofficial Portland High athletic historian and public address announcer. “You don’t have the same size student body that you used to have.”

O’Leary estimated that the 2015 game, when Portland was the host school, had a gate of less than $2,500. The revenue did not cover expenses for two police officers, other security, an ambulance crew, city workers to handle parking and ticket gates, and the stadium field crew.

“We play the game for people to watch it, and if they’re not coming to watch it, why are we playing the game?” O’Leary asked.

The Portland-Deering “Turkey Game” is the only one played on Thanksgiving in Maine.

“It’s a great tradition,” Gribbin said. “It isn’t what it used to be, but it is still a good tradition.”

“I take it very personally because my dad and his grandfather played in this game,” said Portland senior center Dylan Wike. “For me it’s such a big deal to carry on the Wike tradition of playing in the Thanksgiving Day game.”

Portland leads the series 57-40-7. The 1959 game served as the de facto state championship in the pre-playoff era, with Deering coming from behind to win the game and the title. The 1971 game was played in blizzard conditions. The 2000 game was interrupted by a Deering student streaking across the field.

Many of the city’s greatest athletes have played in the game, including Baltimore Orioles infielder Ryan Flaherty (a Deering quarterback), former Nebraska football player Willie Greenlaw (a Portland running back), minor league pitcher Ryan Reid (Deering grad) and former Boston College quarterback Quintin Porter (a Portland grad).

SOCIAL MEDIA DAMPENS ENTHUSIASM

“Up until the early to mid-2000s the crowd was good,” said Tom Chard, a Deering High grad and retired Portland Press Herald sportswriter who has attended all but one game since 1958. “Even when the crowd was good, it was a big homecoming, a big reunion, for the kids who had just gone off to school and even the longtime graduates like myself. I think the advent of social media has really cut into that reunion feeling. Kids are now in constant contact with everyone.”

Bailey participated in 34 Thanksgiving Day games, including three as a player for Deering and five as a Portland assistant coach.

After retiring as the Bulldogs’ head coach, he skipped the game until returning as a fan in 2015.

“The crowd was very small. I was kind of shocked by that,” he said. “I have mixed emotions. I’m a huge traditionalist. I’d hate to see the game go away, but from the athletic directors’ perspective, what they’ve experienced the past few years, I can see why they’re evaluating the value of the game.”

 

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High school teams launch the winter season – some quite early http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/21/high-school-teams-launch-the-winter-season-some-quite-early/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/21/high-school-teams-launch-the-winter-season-some-quite-early/#comments Tue, 22 Nov 2016 03:28:49 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/21/high-school-teams-launch-the-winter-season-some-quite-early/ The Maine Girls’ Academy wasted no time in taking advantage of the first day of the winter sports season on Monday.

Late Sunday night, seconds clicked off the scoreboard inside the school’s gymnasium – counting down to midnight. When the buzzer sounded, some 40 athletes and drama students rushed onto the court to music in celebration.

While the Lions got off to a particularly early start with their second annual Midnight Madness event, high school programs across the state joined them throughout the day in kicking off their winter seasons.

“It’s just so unusual to do something at midnight. I mean, who does that?” said Kathryn Barr, principal of the school formerly known as McAuley High. “It’s just a way of showing support for all the sports.”

Winter high school sports in Maine include basketball, swimming, indoor track, cheering, skiing and ice hockey. Practices for all those sports started Monday with the exception of two. Girls’ hockey was already under way and will begin its regular-season schedule Friday; ski teams will have their first practices next Monday. MGA basketball coach Bill Goodman came up with the idea for Midnight Madness at the school. The Lions have advanced to 10 of the past 17 Class A state title games – including six championships. But Goodman said he wanted an event that involved more than just the basketball team, which now plays in Class AA.

“Something to add some school spirit,” he said. “It’s like a big slumber party.”

At 11:30 p.m., sleeping bags covered the library floor, where the girls would later sleep. Some seemed ready to skip ahead to that stage before the event got started. “I’m so tired,” one student said. “I should have gone to bed two hours ago.”

But their weariness faded with the arrival of the new season, which the girls recognized by running a lap around the gym. Festivities that followed included games, movies, pizza and, perhaps the most enticing feature, a bouncy castle.

“At first, I was like, ‘Midnight Madness – that’s way past my bedtime!'” said senior basketball player Maddy Beaulieu, who wore slippers and a polka-dotted robe. “But then I heard there was a bouncy house, and I had to go.”

MGA Athletic Director Joe Kilmartin said that, earlier in the night, a dad dropping off his daughter commented, “The only thing I’ve heard about this is that there was going to be a bouncy house.”

Kilmartin smiled. “Not exactly what you think about with your first day of sports,” he said.

As for the athletics side of the event, different teams took turns picking competitions with an audience of about a dozen chaperones. Swimmers selected a game that resembled tag called “Sharks and Minnows,” followed by the basketball team’s choice of “Knockout.” The level of skill in the fast-pasted shooting contest ranged from swished baskets to granny shots and overhead throws, where the ball sailed under the net and smacked the cement wall. No one seemed to notice, as the girls waiting in line for their turn were preoccupied dancing to hip-hop songs.

“It’s just a day for us to come together as a school and have fun,” said Sophie Normantas, a member of the swim team. “It gets me so pumped for the season. I’m ready to dive in.”

“Literally,” added fellow swimmer, Emma Spies.

After the lengthy Knockout game, Goodman joked about his relief that the contest had come down to a pair of basketball players after his team lost six of its key members last year.

“That makes me feel a little better about the season,” Goodman said. “We’re such a young team. I don’t know what to expect from them.”

One thing seemed certain to Goodman, who gestured toward his players dancing. “They’re goofballs,” he said.

That energy wasn’t totally organic. “I had a couple Red Bulls,” Normantas said, cupping her hand over her mouth like she was telling a secret. She wasn’t alone. Energy drinks, soda and coffee helped fuel the early morning hours. And – unlike last year – participants got to enjoy the school day off thanks to parent-teacher conferences.

“Last year, I had a quiz first period. It wasn’t good,” Beaulieu said. “It’s such a great event that starts the winter sports season off right.”

Other teams also ushered in the new season quite early on Monday. While the excitement wound down at MGA, it was just picking up for the Falmouth boys’ hockey team at the Family Ice Center.

“Let’s get this party started,” Coach Deron Barton said to some 30 players around 5:50 a.m. And by party, he meant conditioning. There was no music or cheering while the team skated back and forth across the rink – just the sound of heavy breathing and blades slicing through the ice.

“It’s great to be back, but it is very hard,” said Robbie Armitage, who woke up at 4:30 a.m. “It builds a lot of good chemistry, though. We’re one big team – one big family.”

Coach Barton, however, didn’t seem fazed by the hour of the day. He pointed to the championship banners hanging from the ceiling. “See those? We really like those.”

In the past four years, the Yachtsmen have won two Class A state titles with Barton at the helm, and Barton said he’s optimistic about notching another this winter with his returning talent. Armitage, a senior, returns as one of their leaders on offense after recording 25 assists and 14 goals last season.

“The season is short enough, so we can’t afford the time to have these kids spend a month getting their legs,” Barton said. “We jump right in.”

It’s not all fun and games for MGA either. The Lions’ teams were scheduled to attend their first practices Monday afternoon.

“They’ll come back, and they’ll be half asleep,” Kilmartin said. “But it’s good to get the girls together to just have fun.”

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Football: MCI completes stunning comeback to win Class D title http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/19/football-mci-completes-stunning-comeback-to-win-class-d-title/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/19/football-mci-completes-stunning-comeback-to-win-class-d-title/#comments Sun, 20 Nov 2016 02:25:50 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/19/football-mci-completes-stunning-comeback-to-win-class-d-title/ The Maine Central Institute football team was determined to break its hex. And the Huskies found the wildest, craziest, zaniest way to do it.

MCI secured its first state title in 42 years Saturday night, beating Lisbon 20-14 in the Class D final when Eli Bussell picked up a botched snap on a field-goal attempt and sprinted 20 yards for a touchdown on the last play of the game.

“It’s amazing. It feels impossible to put into words. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had,” Bussell said. “Indescribable. It was an amazing feeling.”

The play was only possible because of a frantic second-half rally by the Huskies (12-0), who trailed 14-0 at halftime and seemed out of answers. Quarterback Josh Buker rallied MCI, however, rushing for 66 of his 97 yards after the break and guiding the Huskies to scoring drives in the third and fourth quarters.

“You’re not feeling better than that, right there,” Buker said. “It’s confidence, but it’s heart. It’s a lot more heart than it is confidence. We’re shaky sometimes with that confidence, but we never go down.”

Buker completed a 58-yard touchdown pass to Adam Bertrand with 3:16 left in the third quarter, then combined with Bussell on a 21-yard scoring run in which Buker ran 19 yards and then pitched the ball to the running back, who scored the tying touchdown with 3:47 to play.

Buker’s greatest heroics, however, came on the final drive. MCI took over at its own 23 with 40 seconds left, and Buker ran for 17 and 21 yards before hitting Bertrand with a 19-yard pass down the right sideline with three seconds to go.

Out trotted Devon Varney for what would have been a 37-yard field-goal attempt, but he never got a chance as Bussell mishandled the snap. Bussell picked up the ball, beat the defenders around right end and sprinted down the sideline into the end zone, giving MCI the title after losses to Oak Hill in the 2014 and 2015 state finals.

“That’s Eli,” Coach Tom Bertrand said. “He doesn’t panic. … He knows we have complete confidence in him.”

Lisbon (8-2) took control in the first half when quarterback Tyler Halls rushed for two touchdowns after a promising drive deep into MCI territory ended with an interception.

A 4-yard run by Halls put the Greyhounds ahead 6-0 with 6:37 remaining in the half. After MCI gambled and lost by going for it on fourth down from its own 38, Lisbon made the Huskies pay, with Halls again leading the charge. The quarterback took the ball himself on five of the drive’s six plays, converting a third-and-2 from the 18 with an 8-yard run. On first-and-goal from the 10, he burst through a hole in the middle to make it 14-0 with 2:32 to go in the half.

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State championship notebook: Scots add to winning tradition http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/19/state-championship-notebook-scots-add-to-winning-tradition/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/19/state-championship-notebook-scots-add-to-winning-tradition/#comments Sat, 19 Nov 2016 23:55:05 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/19/state-championship-notebook-scots-add-to-winning-tradition/ Christian Napolitano and Kordell Menard could point to the exact spot in the bleachers at Fitzpatrick Stadium where they watched the Bonny Eagle football team win its fifth Class A state title in 2013.

Both were eighth graders, and both said they dreamed of the day they would be on the field winning the Gold Ball. On Saturday, that became reality for the two juniors, who each grabbed an interception in the Scots’ 34-14 win over Portland.

“I think our guys get used to seeing success at the high school level,” Bonny Eagle Coach Kevin Cooper said. “Then, the ones that want to be part of Bonny Eagle football know they’re coming into a pretty good program.”

Defense was a strength all season for the Scots (11-0), who forced 33 turnovers. Bonny Eagle had three interceptions, recovered a fumble and had five sacks against Portland (9-2) while giving up just 140 yards.

Three of those turnovers led to Bonny Eagle touchdowns. Alexander Smith recovered the fumble that led to an Alex Sprague score, and a Cam Theberge interception set up Nick Thorne’s second touchdown.

Menard’s interception in the second quarter set up a Bonny Eagle drive on which quarterback Cam Day scored, cutting Portland’s lead to 7-6 before halftime. Menard also had two catches for 43 yards and a 13-yard touchdown.

“Kordell (Menard) is a great player – his hands are incredible,” Cooper said. “We said during preseason that Kordell was going to make a couple unbelievable catches during this year, and we’d walk away saying, ‘Oh my God, how did he catch that?'”

Menard said he has been a Bonny Eagle fan since he was 8. He remembers attending games in 2008 to watch quarterback Nate Doehler, who led the Scots past Skowhegan 26-6 for their fourth state title in five years.

“Now, I’m playing in it,” Menard said. “I just never thought I would be in this position right now.”

It was Napolitano who put the game away for the Scots with an interception with two minutes left. Despite the sunlight in his eyes, he managed to read the play and make the catch.

“I jumped (the route) and got my arms under (the ball) just enough,” Napolitano said. “You got to go all out in the state game.”

Napolitano said he has been attending Bonny Eagle games and cheering for the Scots since he was in second grade.

“Ever since then, I’ve wanted to get one of these Gold Balls,” Napolitano said. “Watching them do it just inspired me and every single one of us out here to play like a championship team.”

So what does it feel like to win a Gold Ball?

“I’m speechless,” Menard said. “I’m at a loss for words.”

“It’s indescribable. Never could have …” a smile stretched across Napolitano’s face. “It’s hard to say.”

In the last 13 seasons, Bonny Eagle has collected six Class A titles. Napolitano and Menard will both return next year for the Scots.

“We’re very fortunate that players before these guys have kind of made that program,” Cooper said. “We do talk about our tradition and protecting our tradition. The example that guys in the past have set for our players is really special.”

PARKER GAMMON, one of Bonny Eagle’s captains, said Cooper put pressure on his team at the 2015 year-end banquet.

“It was kind of known. Coop even called it,” Gammon said. “At the banquet, he said, ‘2016 state champions, here you are.'”

Bonny Eagle lost to Thornton Academy in the South final in 2014 and 2015 after winning the state title in 2013 when the current seniors were freshmen.

“It’s a great feeling leading them here and knowing they wanted it just as bad as me,” Gammon said.

COOPER HAS stressed in recent weeks how his team has always been able to make a play when needed, so he wasn’t worried too much when Portland grabbed an early lead.

“Our guys have a lot of pride. They’ve never failed to deliver when they’ve needed to this year,” Cooper said. “There was really no panic for us at halftime.”

IN THE FIRST HALF, Portland’s defense was consistently getting penetration and making big hits. Menard absorbed two blows on early pass attempts by Cam Day that went incomplete, including a perfectly timed hit by Vinnie Pasquali. Dylan Bolduc tackled Alex Sprague for a loss and then sacked Day with a hard hit.

The Bulldogs failed to capitalize on two first-half possessions.

A first-and-10 from the Bonny Eagle 19 after the Bolduc sack was wasted. Then, early in the second quarter, Bachelder scrambled away from pressure on third-and-7 and appeared to have room to run for a first down but decided too late to throw to Ethan Hoyt. The big tight end made a great one-handed catch that would have put the ball inside the 15, but Bachelder had crossed the line of scrimmage.

WELLS GAVE its fans plenty to celebrate. The block of red in the bleachers remained energized from start to finish in the Warriors’ 44-0 win over Mt. Desert Island for the Class C state title.

At the front of the rowdy pack was senior Bailey Marsh, who directed chants and kept the crowd alive – a role she took on at the beginning of the season. She hasn’t missed a game.

“I guess I just have a really loud voice, and people listen to me,” Marsh said. “It’s nerve-wracking for some people to talk to everyone, so I just stepped up and went for it.”

Marsh isn’t fazed by the spotlight. Her voice carried over horns and cowbells, and when she spoke, everyone listened.

The support doesn’t go unnoticed. When asked about their fans after the game, Wells Coach Tim Roche knew exactly who Marsh was.

“She’s just awesome,” Roche said. “Our whole student section is great. We’re just so proud to be able to represent them.

“I can’t wait to go over there and celebrate with them and say thank you to our crowd.”

Ethan Marsh, Bailey younger brother and a player on the team, also appreciates the support.

“I know how much heart she has and how much support she has for this team; knowing that she’s leading our fan section is great,” said Marsh, a junior. “It’s really incredible to have the whole town behind you like that. It’s something you’ll never experience anywhere else.”

Also helping Marsh lead the chants were fellow seniors Ally O’Brien and Hannah Moody. The trio wore Wells jerseys and streaks of black and red paint under their eyes.

“It’s definitely an awesome feeling,” said O’Brien, clad in Ethan Marsh’s jersey. “It’s so much fun that everybody shows so much support for our football team.”

Moody drummed on a bucket throughout the game, a role she took on after she got her tonsils removed toward the end of the regular season.

“I couldn’t yell, so I got a bucket,” Moody said. “It’s awesome, because the football team is something we could look forward to every Friday. The whole school was ready for this game.”

As time expired, fans filed behind Marsh and jogged to the fence surrounding the field. The Warriors immediately sprinted toward them with their Gold Ball.

“It’s really special,” Ethan Marsh said. “We’ve just got to take a bit to let this soak in and realize what we’ve accomplished.”

LATE IN THE FIRST HALF of the Class C final, Wells was leading 14-0 and MDI had the ball.

The Trojans tried a trick play, with quarterback Andrew Phelps pitching to receiver Drew Rich, and then Phelps went out for a pass in the left flat.

MDI had used the same play at the end of the first half in the North final against Winslow, producing a long gain to set up its first touchdown.

In the South final, Cape Elizabeth had used a similar play late in the game to score against Wells’ second-team defense.

This time, Wells was ready. Michael Wrigley read the play perfectly, and when Rich’s throw hung in the air, Wrigley cut in front of Phelps, intercepted it and returned it 39 yards for a TD that put Wells in front 21-0.

WELLS SENIOR GUARD Alex Holmes-Staples posed with the Gold Ball while standing next to a man in an Army uniform. Scott Staples, 23, surprised his brother by flying in from Fort Stewart, Georgia, for the game.

“I got a two-day pass. Flew in (Saturday) morning and fly out (Sunday),” said Staples, who graduated from Wells in 2012.

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Football: Wells overpowers MDI for Class C title http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/19/football-wells-rolls-to-class-c-title-44-0/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/19/football-wells-rolls-to-class-c-title-44-0/#comments Sat, 19 Nov 2016 22:05:42 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/19/football-wells-rolls-to-class-c-title-44-0/ Early in the Class C state championship game Saturday, when it was still competitive, Mt. Desert Island hoped to keep momentum after grabbing an interception. The Trojans gained nine yards and on third-and-1, Chris Farnsworth got the handoff.

Defensive end Deandre Woods of Wells crashed in and stopped Farnsworth cold for no gain.

And so it went. Wells dominated both sides of the line and marched to a 44-0 victory at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Wells (11-1) won its third state championship, the other two coming in Class B (2011 and 1997).

Mt. Desert (9-2) was making its first title-game appearance.

“We felt like we could play closer with (Wells),” MDI Coach Mark Shields said. “But when you’re bigger and stronger, you’re probably going to win … they just pushed us around.”

Wells outgained MDI, 374-58.

Evan Whitten rushed 20 times for 218 yards and three touchdowns. Riley Dempsey rushed 21 times for 151 times and a score. The Warriors also got scores from a Nolan Potter run and Michael Wrigley interception return. Kicker Keegan Reidy was busy with six extra points.

“The line worked all game,” Whitten said. “They did all the work for us and we just put it in the end zone for them.”

Still, the game was close early. Wells went three-and-out on its opening series. On the Warriors’ second possession, they drove to the MDI 8, facing a third-and-6. That’s when James Carroll made an interception in the end zone.

That was the only pass Wells would attempt.

For most of the next two drives, the ball went to Whitten or Dempsey.

“We just hit the holes hard,” Dempsey said.

And the holes were opening. Wells drove 57 yards in eight plays, capped by Whitten’s 10-yard burst up the middle and a 7-0 lead.

The next drive went 55 yards but wasn’t so easy. A Whitten 31-yard run helped the Warriors set up for a first-and-goal from the 1. MDI held tough, stopping Wells on three plays.

“They’re in a six-man front and the coach is a knucklehead, going right at it,” said Wells Coach Tim Roche, referring to himself. “But we punched in.”

On fourth down, Potter bulled in for a 1-yard score and 14-0 lead with 3:22 left in the first half.

The Trojans were still looking for a first down. In their first three possessions, they totaled 13 yards.

“They flow so well to the ball,” Shields said. “We just couldn’t get anything going offensively. It’s that simple.”

Wells got the ball again with 1:32 left in the half. The Warriors appeared ready to run out the clock, but MDI used timeouts and got the ball back at its 37 with 39 seconds left.

The Trojans tried to get fancy with a play that worked in the regional final. Quarterback Andrew Phelps pitched to Drew Rich, who turned to pass back to Phelps. But Wrigley stepped in front, intercepted and ran 39 yards for the score and a 21-0 halftime lead.

It was another example of Wells using speed and anticipation.

Linebackers Sean McCormick-Kuhman and Potter exploded into the MDI line, making tackles for losses or no gain. Defensive end Jake Spofford also was tough.

“All that preparation all week, you get to know their offense,” McCormick-Kuhman said. “It was a great effort on both sides of the ball. Just awesome.”

McCormick-Kuhman also centered a dominant offensive line, surrounded by guards Alex Holmes Staples and Cody Brassard, and tackles Courtland Austin and David Ouellette.

In the second half, Whitten scored twice on runs of 40 and 45 yards sandwiched around a Dempsey 32-yard score. Wells got a safety in the third quarter when MDI hiked the ball over its punter’s head and out of the end zone.

MDI made two more turnovers in the second half, with Austin recovering a fumble and Nick Hansen grabbing an interception.

There were plenty of celebrations when the Warriors received the Gold Ball.

“One more breakdown,” Roche called out as he gathered his players for one more raucous cheer.

“They’re a lot of fun to be around and I’m going to miss them,” Roche said of his 19 seniors. “The only part that stinks … I don’t get to go out on the field Monday and practice with them again. But I’ll take this.”

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Football: Bonny Eagle rolls to Class A title http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/19/football-bonny-eagle-rolls-to-class-a-title/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/19/football-bonny-eagle-rolls-to-class-a-title/#comments Sat, 19 Nov 2016 18:39:27 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/19/football-bonny-eagle-rolls-to-class-a-title/ Kevin Cooper’s halftime message was just what the Bonny Eagle linemen wanted to hear.

With his team trailing Portland by a point in the Class A state championship game Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium, Cooper told his team they were going to scrap the spread formation and line up with two tight ends and a wingback.

“We decided we wanted to come out and pound it in there, and that’s what our guys did. It was fun to watch,” Cooper said.

Backed by a defense that produced three turnovers and four sacks in the second half, unbeaten Bonny Eagle powered to a 34-14 win in front of a crowd of at least 5,000 fans on an unseasonably warm and sunny day.

“We were going to run them over, chew away at the clock, and still get yards and beat them with our physicality,” tackle Zach Klein said. “I like that a lot.”

Bonny Eagle (11-0) won its sixth state title under Cooper. The Scots’ previous titles came in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2013.

Klein teamed with linemen Matt Silverman, Parker Gammon, Jeremiah Sheehan and Kirby Morrell, and tight ends Arlo Pike and Christian Tripp to create gaps for quarterback Cam Day (22 carries, 96 yards, 1 TD), and hard-running backs Alex Sprague (15 carries, 70 yards, 1 TD) and Nick Thorne (5 carries, 34 yards, 2 TDs).

“We wanted to hit it hard and fast up the middle,” Gammon said. “We love it. We have good running backs and everyone knows that.”

Portland (9-2) had won nine straight games but lost in the state final for a second consecutive season. The Bulldogs were held to 140 yards.

“They’re bigger and stronger than we are,” said Portland Coach Jim Hartman. “Our kids fought hard in the first half. We just ran out of gas.”

The Bonny Eagle defense set the tone in the second half as it sacked Issiah Bachelder (5 of 6, 85 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs) and also forced an intentional grounding penalty on Portland’s first series.

The Scots took over at their 34, and 12 running plays got the ball to the Portland 13. Day then used his arm to produce the go-ahead score. On fourth-and-6 from the 13, he zipped a pass to Kordell Menard, who held on despite a hit by Vinnie Pasquali and tumbled into the end zone.

With the extra point by Christian Napolitano, Bonny Eagle led 13-7.

Three plays later, Thorne strip-sacked Bachelder and Alex Smith recovered at the Portland 9.

“I knew (Bachelder) didn’t see me because I was behind him, so I just brought my arm down and karate-chopped it down,” Thorne said. “That was my goal, to try to create a play that (would) work in our favor.”

Sprague scored from the 1 for a 19-7 lead.

Portland answered with its best sustained drive, featuring toss sweep runs by Dylan Bolduc (15 carries, 65 yards), who also had a strong day on defense. Bachelder sneaked in on fourth down and Quinn Clarke’s kick cut the Scots’ lead to 19-14 with 9:05 left.

But Portland’s defense could not come up with a stop. Bonny Eagle used seven consecutive running plays to quickly move 73 yards, with Thorne breaking through a pair of tackles and rumbling 27 yards for the touchdown.

“Coach told me that was kind of the backbreaker play, the one that just snaps the hopes of a team,” Thorne said.

Thorne also had two sacks, with Klein getting in on two others.

Bonny Eagle wrapped things up with a Cam Theberge interception and 26-yard return to the Portland 11, leading to Thorne’s 2-yard touchdown run with 2:27 left.

Napolitano picked off Bachelder’s final pass, allowing Bonny Eagle to begin celebrating while it ran out the clock.

The game started much better for Portland.

After a trio of punts, Bachelder got his team moving with a 12-yard pass to Griffin Foley and a 12-yard scramble. Then Bachelder and Foley connected on a 32-yard score, as Foley went high to snatch the pass near the goal line with 6:20 left in the first quarter.

Bonny Eagle’s next possession ended with Bolduc coming through clean on a blitz and smacking Day for a 7-yard loss back to the 2. Day came off clutching his right wrist and Napolitano’s punt went 17 yards.

Portland was unable to capitalize, though, as Menard knocked down a fourth-down pass.

“That was enormous. That was the game,” Hartman said. “We score there, we win the game.”

Bonny Eagle got on the board with 58.4 seconds left in the half on a 4-yard run by Day.

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Football: Brunswick beats Kennebunk to end long Class B title drought http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/football-brunswick-finally-ends-title-drought/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/football-brunswick-finally-ends-title-drought/#comments Sat, 19 Nov 2016 02:47:30 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/football-brunswick-finally-ends-title-drought/ ORONO — Three years.

That’s how long Brunswick’s Class B football state championship was in the making.

After losing in the state championship game each of the previous two years, Brunswick was not going to be denied again. The Dragons completed an undefeated season by overpowering previously unbeaten Kennebunk 28-6 Friday night at Alfond Stadium.

It’s Brunswick’s first championship since 1963 – before the Maine Principals’ Association began playing championship games – and was forged by defeats the last two years against Marshwood. Forty-five minutes after the game, Brunswick’s players, coaches and fans were still mingling on the field, holding the Gold Ball and posing for photos.

“It means the world,” said Brunswick Coach Dan Cooper. “It’s been a three-year quest, really. They have busted their humps for three years. … This whole community, the town, the kids. … We’re so proud.”

Brunswick finished 11-0, as senior Ben Palizay scored two touchdowns, the first and last. He jump-started the Dragons by returning the opening kickoff 70 yards, setting up his 1-yard touchdown run just 1:13 into the game. Then he clinched the title with a 3-yard sweep around left end for a touchdown with 3:17 remaining.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Palizay. “Twenty-one seniors … probably never going to come through with a class like that again. It’s just a great feeling.”

Brunswick’s defensive line dominated, with a combination of size and speed that the Rams hadn’t seen before. Kennebunk had just 14 yards of offense in the first half, and while the Rams moved the ball better in the final two quarters, they could not break through.

Three times in the third quarter, Kennebunk drove inside the Brunswick 40, only to be stopped on downs each time as it failed to cut into its 22-6 halftime deficit.

“That’s a great defensive team,” said Kennebunk Coach Joe Rafferty, who has brought his team to four state championship games but has lost twice in the last four years. “We just didn’t get anything going offensively. They were all over us.”

Defensive ends Jaznel Burns and Jackson Gordon disrupted anything the Rams tried to do, with Gordon batting down passes and Burns rushing the quarterback. Burns had two sacks and a fumble recovery after knocking the ball out of the hands of quarterback Tripp Bush, and also forced an incompletion when he hit Bush as he was throwing.

“I think Tripp’s going to be sore for a little while,” said Rafferty.

Kennebunk’s defense played well, too, holding Brunswick’s potent offense in check for much of the game and forcing four turnovers.

But Brunswick’s special teams stepped up. Palizay had a 13-yard punt return from midfield to set up the Dragons’ second scoring drive, which ended when Hunter Garrett ran around right end for a 4-yard touchdown. Jensen threw the conversion pass to Gordon, and it was 16-0.

Kennebunk’s defense got the Rams back into the game, as Christian Putnam recovered a fumble at the Brunswick 17. Six plays later, Patrick Saunders powered in from the 1. But Burns sacked Bush from behind on the conversion attempt, so Brunswick still led 16-6.

Palizay again returned the kickoff up the middle through a huge hole. This time he went for 36 yards, setting up the Dragons at the Kennebunk 44. Jensen went in from the 1 on a quarterback sneak with 51 seconds left in the half to give Brunswick a 22-6 lead.

The Dragons had three turnovers in the third quarter, but their defense stood tall. After the last one, Burns came in from Tripp’s blind side and sacked him, forcing a fumble that he recovered.

“I was playing for my brothers tonight,” said Burns. “This means everything to us.”

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Football: Class C championship preview http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/football-class-c-championship-preview/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/football-class-c-championship-preview/#comments Sat, 19 Nov 2016 01:27:11 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/football-class-c-championship-preview/ MOUNT DESERT ISLAND (9-1) vs. WELLS (10-1)

WHERE: Fitzpatrick Stadium, Portland

KICKOFF: 2:36 p.m., Saturday

TELEVISION: WPXT

When MDI has the ball

Coach Mark Shields’ team runs a Straight-T offense, intent on grinding away the clock and using deception to free up its three-back set behind junior quarterback Andrew Phelps. Halfback Colby Lee rushed for 966 yards and 8 TDs with an impressive 10.2 yards-per-catch average in the regular season. The other halfback and lone senior starter on offense is Chris Farnsworth (75 rushes, 422 yards, 8 TDs). The Trojans lost all-conference fullback Croix Albee to a knee injury late in the season. But former tight end Graham Goode has been effective in that spot during the team’s playoff run, including a 12-7 North final win against defending champ Winslow. Wells, which eliminated Cape Elizabeth’s running attack in the South final (22 carries, 29 yards), counters with a strong defensive front led by defensive tackle Jordan Cluff, and tough inside linebackers Nolan Potter and Sean McCormack-Kuhman. Teams have scored only 76 points (6.9 per game) against Wells.

When Wells has the ball

The Warriors will run all day if backs Evan Whitten, Riley Dempsey and power fullback Potter are gaining consistent yardage behind a veteran offensive line. That formula worked to the tune of 41.8 points per game as Wells dominated every team it played except Cape Elizabeth. But as they showed against Cape in the South final, they can be effective throwing when needed. Quarterback Owen Berry completed 7 of 9 passes for 125 yards in that game, with Cluff his favorite target. A key matchup on the line will be Wells center McCormack-Kuhman against two-time, first-team all-conference nose guard Josiah Joy. Goode at inside linebacker and Micah Hallett on the defensive line are two other key Trojan defenders Wells will need to negate.

Outlook

Wells’ 19 seniors have spent two years preparing to get to this game after consecutive losses in the regional final. The Warriors expect to have a large cheering section, making them a strong favorite. Wells also has a significant depth advantage over the Trojans, who expect to dress about 25 healthy players.

– Steve Craig

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Football: Class A championship preview http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/football-class-a-championship-preview/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/football-class-a-championship-preview/#comments Sat, 19 Nov 2016 01:21:50 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/football-class-a-championship-preview/ Class A

BONNY EAGLE (10-0) vs. PORTLAND (9-1)

WHERE: Fitzpatrick Stadium, Portland

KICKOFF: 11:06 a.m., Saturday

TELEVISION: WPXT

When Bonny Eagle has the ball

The Scots operate out of a spread formation but don’t be fooled. This is a team that is quite happy running the ball and controlling the clock. The Scots are fueled by the read-option rushes of quarterback Cam Day (942 yards, 12 TDs) and by 220-pound fullback Nick Thorne, back to full strength after missing most of five games during the season. With home run threats such as junior running back Alex Sprague (1,167 yards, 18 TDs), senior wideout Cam Theberge (21 receptions, 15.4 yards per catch) and lanky junior receiver Kordell Menard (7 TDs on 15 catches), the Scots can score quickly (41.7 points per game). Portland’s defense gives up 12.4 points per game. The Bulldogs are led by middle linebacker Dylan Bolduc, linemen Ethan Hoyt and Nick Giaquinto, and defensive back Vincent Pasquali (6 INTs, third on the team in tackles). Being able to cover and make tackles in the open part of the field will be key for Portland.

When Portland has the ball

The Bulldogs average 39.2 points per game with quarterback Issiah Bachelder (63.4 percent completion rate, 1,141 yards, 18 TDs) directing the show. Much of Portland’s pass success comes off play-action as teams creep up to try to stop hard-running Dylan Bolduc (1,224 yards, 14 TDs), shifty Jake Knopp (548 yards) and Bachelder (449 yards, 11 TDs). When Windham slowed Portland’s run game in the North final, Bachelder went to the air and briskly moved his team down the field. Griffin Foley, at 6-foot-2 with good hands, and 245-pound tight end Ethan Hoyt have a big size advantage against the Scots’ secondary. Scarborough was able to hit Bonny Eagle (12.6 points against) for three touchdown passes in the South final but the secondary is full of ballhawks in Theberge, Greg Emerson, and Menard.

Outlook

Portland, playing in its second straight final, is on its home field and looking for its first title since 2002. The Scots won it all in 2013 when the current seniors were freshmen. With playmakers on both sides of the ball, the game could be decided by the dangerous return men: Theberge and Sprague for Bonny Eagle, and Pasquali for Portland.

– Steve Craig

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Wells riding a Red Tide of football pride into state championship game http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/wells-riding-a-red-tide-of-football-pride-into-saturdays-title-game/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/wells-riding-a-red-tide-of-football-pride-into-saturdays-title-game/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2016 23:46:42 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/wells-riding-a-red-tide-of-football-pride-into-saturdays-title-game/ David Ouellette was in eighth grade when he realized that football meant a little more in his hometown of Wells.

“We went to York for the (youth) championship game and I remember it was like one York fan to every eight Wells fans,” he said. “The whole town was behind us. And we were only in junior high.”

Other communities have passionate fan bases and strong traditions as football towns. What may separate Wells from the others is the genuine affection and appreciation the high school players have for their fans. The players all but gush about it.

“Now being a senior, knowing I still have the whole Wells community behind me is an incredible feeling,” said Ouellette, the Warriors’ 6-foot-5, 320-pound starting left tackle.

“You can tell at every game that our fans care so much,” said Cody Brassard, one of 19 seniors on the roster and the team’s starting right guard. “I definitely feel that our crowd is a huge advantage. We do have an advantage because our town loves us. It’s amazing.”

On Saturday afternoon, Wells (10-1) will play for the Class C state championship at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium – and the town is expected to turn out in force for the game against Mount Desert Island (9-1).

“I’ve been anticipating this game since last November,” said Jim MacNeill, 50, general manager of The Maine Diner, the iconic eatery in Wells. “To me, 3,000 to 4,000 fans from Wells sounds reasonable. My wife is an example. She doesn’t normally go to games, but there’s no way she’d miss this one. It’s for states.”

The last time Wells played in a state title game was 2011, when it won the Class B title at Fitzpatrick Stadium. The total attendance for all three games played that day was 9,351, according to the Maine Principals’ Association.

“I can guarantee you in 2011 there wasn’t a person left in Wells,” football coach Tim Roche said. “We filled that stadium. The guys from the (Maine Principals’ Association) told us the biggest crowd they had that day was the Wells game, and the same thing is going to happen Saturday.”

EVEN PART-TIME RESIDENTS ARE ROOTERS

A seaside tourist town, Wells has a population of about 10,000 full-time residents that triples in the summer. Many summer residents have second homes in town and visit on weekends during the rest of the year.

“Even some of the weekend people have the team spirit for Wells High School,” said Dianne Couture, manager of The Maine Diner. “They’ll come in and ask, ‘Where’s the game this week?'”

At Wells High, they refer to school spirit as Red Tide Pride, a term coined by fiery longtime defensive coordinator Carmen Perri.

“Coach Perri said years and years ago that a red tide infests everything and takes it over. That’s kind of our philosophy,” said senior Keegan Reidy, a receiver and place kicker.

With 449 students, Wells High should be in the smallest of the state’s four enrollment classes for football, but the school petitioned to play larger schools in Class C. With a roster of 51 players and a veteran coaching staff, the Warriors likely would be competitive in Class B, where former rivals York and Kennebunk now play.

Sally Morse misses those old rivalries. She, her husband and their three adult sons own and operate Morse Hardware & Lumber. Morse said the town’s football fervor was stronger in the 1980s, but she still goes to games regularly. Her store is one of several along Route 1 with “Go Warriors” or “Red Tide Pride” posted on their roadside signs.

‘A WHOLE DIFFERENT PLANET’

Wells’ fans are known to come early, stay to the end, and cheer all the way through.

“With all our sports, win, lose or draw, they’re going to stay until the final buzzer,” said Jack Malloy, the high school athletic director.

Marquee home football games routinely draw standing-room-only crowds of 2,000 fans to the compact field behind the high school. With people standing just a few yards from the action, the atmosphere is intimate, nostalgic and potentially intimidating.

“It felt like a whole different planet,” Freeport coach Paul St. Pierre said of his team’s game at Wells on Military Appreciation night this fall. “Before the game, some of the players were walking down with fathers, grandfathers who were in the service.

“Wells just took it to another level. It was rocking, I’ll tell you that.”

The crowd was at least 2,000 when Wells hosted Cape Elizabeth in the regular-season finale between two undefeated teams. Wells struggled from the start and lost, 13-7, with the final quarter played in a downpour.

“It was miserable weather. They really didn’t have to be there but they stayed for the entire game, even in the final minutes, when there was really no chance of us winning,” said Nolan Potter, a junior linebacker. “As disappointed as we were that we didn’t win that last regular-season game, it was nice to see that the town didn’t leave the game.”

HOMETOWN TIES

When Wells goes on the road, Red Tide Pride flows down the highways. That was evident both before and after Wells’ 27-14 victory in the South regional final at Cape Elizabeth on Nov. 12.

“When we came onto the field for warm-ups, (Cape’s) section was empty and Wells’ side was crazy,” said Reidy, the senior receiver. “It’s just how we are. It’s pretty cool.”

Roche strongly reinforces the town-team connection to his players. Humble and often self-deprecating, Roche is a 1983 graduate of Wells High and has compiled a 123-62 record in 18 seasons as head coach. Since 2011, he also has been a town selectman.

“It’s all about being part of a hometown that cares about you,” Roche said. “Wells buys into our athletic program as a whole, but especially, for whatever reason, Warrior football.”

With an informed and rabid fan base comes expectations for success – and responsible behavior.

“Whenever you’re doing anything you’ve got to think, ‘What would the whole entire town think?'” Reidy said. “Because whatever you do, in a small town it goes around quick.”

For both stars and unsung heroes, being part of this year’s Wells football team has been something special.

Brassard is a prime example. Standing 5-foot-10, he weighs only 150 pounds but has been a stalwart at right guard for an offense that emphasizes power running. Brassard lifted feverishly in the weight room and sought advice from the high school nutritionist to pack on a few extra pounds of muscle.

“My whole thing about working out was that I knew I was small and everyone else had grown big and I wanted to play with my boys,” Brassard said. “It was really important to me because I knew I had the heart and I wanted to be with them on the field.”

Ouellette, the biggest Warrior, lines up next to Brassard.

“If we can win this championship it would be the ultimate thank you to my family, my extended family that comes to the game, my football family and my town,” Ouellette said. “I want to be able to hold up that trophy and show the town, ‘Your support means the world to us.'”

 

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Longtime Lisbon football coach stepping down after championship game http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/longtime-lisbon-football-coach-stepping-down-after-greyhounds-championship-game/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/longtime-lisbon-football-coach-stepping-down-after-greyhounds-championship-game/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2016 17:30:09 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/longtime-lisbon-football-coach-stepping-down-after-greyhounds-championship-game/ LISBON — Dick Mynahan was set to become the Lisbon High football coach. Whether he wanted to be or not.

Mynahan was golfing with his brother, John, late in the summer of 1986 when Joe Woodhead found the pair and pulled his car alongside them. Woodhead, the Greyhounds’ longtime coach, was stepping down, and he wanted Dick to take his spot.

Dick didn’t answer. His brother beat him to it.

“He pulled over and said, ‘They told me I can quit if you take the job,’ ” Dick Mynahan said. “And my brother said ‘He’ll take the job.’ ”

He’s been the right man for it. Mynahan earned four state championship berths and three titles as the head of the Greyhounds, and now, 30 years after being sworn in at the fourth hole at Apple Valley Golf Course, he’s had enough. The 71-year-old Mynahan will coach his final game, state championship game No. 5, Saturday evening when Lisbon takes on D North champion Maine Central Institute at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

Mynahan’s boundless energy remains, and so does his passion for the game. But family, simply enough, came first.

“My wife is wanting to do something different in the fall now,” he said. “I’ve got some grandkids now that are high school age and I want to get involved with them. … I had to give it a lot to coach this year. I just wanted to go out in a different way. But I knew right from the very beginning this would be it.”

By the middle of this week, Mynahan had still delayed telling the players he’d led to the brink of a Class D title, players who say Mynahan has taught them as much about carrying themselves off the field as anything concerning Xs and Os.

“He tells you exactly what you need to do, game-wise,” senior captain and lineman Tanton Mattson said. “But then, at the end of the day, he’s always talking about what we need to do to be respectful young men.”

Sophomore running back Lucas Francis summed it up succinctly.

“He’s a good teacher, not just a good coach,” he said.

The idea that he’d leave anywhere close to that kind of a mark didn’t occur to Mynahan, a longtime Lisbon assistant, when he took over the Greyhounds for the 1986 season. He admittedly doubted his team-leading abilities, and on a trip to Cape Cod soon after getting the job, he brought a notebook with him and went to work figuring it out.

“I took my notebook with me and worked on some of the same plays that I’m doing today,” he said.

Some of the products of the brainstorming session became staples of Mynahan’s strategy, such as the T formation on offense and a 4-5 defense, one he brought back for Saturday’s regional final win over Winthrop/Monmouth.

“I thought we had the personnel for it,” he said. “You can’t use it all the time, but in certain situations it turns out nice for us.”

Mynahan paired those schemes with an airtight attention to detail. Opponents were obsessively scouted, and practices were meticulously arranged, with a carefully thought out amount of time allotted for each drill.

“He knows how to prepare us. He has a whole plan, he’s all precise in everything,” quarterback Tyler Halls said. “He has every formation that the team that we’re playing can possibly run, any defense that they’ll be in. He’s prepared for everything.”

“He’s got things down to the minute, and when I say minute, I mean minute,” Francis said. “At the beginning of the year, he’d say ‘Our stretches take 20 minutes one day, the next they take 22.’ ”

Mynahan normally keeps that intensity beneath a calm exterior. But there have been times when it has spilled out.

“As a freshman, I had a false start penalty, and he goes ‘You know what, Tanton? Anybody who has a false start there, they’re not a real football player,’ ” Mattson said. “That got to me. … I think that’s just one way he tries to bring out the best in people. Now that I think back, I’m grateful for it.”

It’s all part of the energy Mynahan brings to the job. He used to run behind the ballcarriers during offensive drills, and even now, he likes to take a hands-on approach when instructing a player.

“When he explains things to me, he always does a little gesture on how to do it,” Halls said. “I think it’s pretty funny.”

“You don’t feel your age on a football field,” Mynahan said. “It’s a young man’s sport, and sometimes if you’re a coach, you’re as young as the kids you’re coaching.”

The approach has worked. Mynahan guided the Greyhounds to the Class C title in 1997, holding off Dover-Foxcroft with a series of goal-line stands, and then to titles over D-F in 2005 and ’06 after the Ponies beat them in 2003.

“In ’97, that was the first one after a lot of years of coaching. That was the best feeling in the world, with the goal line stands to end the game. That was special,” he said. “The other two, I think it was just teamwork all the way through. Hard-working teams, good kids.”

The championship memories will last forever, but they have company. In many ways, that’s a reflection of how Mynahan has changed the most. The wins used to mean everything. Now he’s learned to embrace the losses.

“What always stands out in my mind more than anything else are goal line stands, coming back at the end of a game, winning a tight game,” he said. “As hard as it is to believe, there are plenty of losses I’ve felt good about because I thought we should have gotten beat by a lot more and the kids played hard.

“It’s not always been about winning. It’s about playing the game the way it should be played.”

That philosophy was exemplified Saturday afternoon in perhaps the most spectacular finish of the season. Trailing Winthrop/Monmouth by three with 16 seconds left, Lisbon got a miracle completion and then scored the winning touchdown with less than a second to go.

The players went wild. Their coach, humbled, hardly moved.

“Over the years, my ideas about winning and losing have changed a lot,” Mynahan said. “I think that after that game, I had a few moments where I understood what was going on in Winthrop’s end. It kind of bothered me a little bit. … You have to respect the opponent, I think.”

That’s been the biggest lesson stressed by Mynahan, who’s tried for all 30 years to help his players improve on and off the field and will try to steer them Saturday to one more win.

“Come out here, work hard, learn some life lessons about working hard, about contributing, about discipline, about being a part of a family,” he said. “Those things that help kids grow up and grow older. That’s all we try to do every year.”

Who knows, maybe he’s got a few more lessons to teach.

“I don’t think I’ll be too far from the Lisbon football team,” he said. “And if they need a volunteer coach, I’m always available.”

This time, it would be his call.

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Football: Bonny Eagle has big-play confidence http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/scots-make-the-plays/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/scots-make-the-plays/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1111444 STANDISH — Kevin Cooper knows why his Bonny Eagle High football team is playing in the Class A state championship game Saturday.

“Whether it’s on offense, defense or special teams, whenever we’ve needed to make a play this year our guys have come through,” Cooper said.

He just wishes he could explain why it happens.

“If you could put your finger on it as a coach, you’d be pretty famous as a coach,” he said.

Actually Cooper does have a pretty good idea of how it happens – and so does his team. It starts with athletic talent.

“We have so many kids that can do everything,” said junior fullback/outside linebacker Nick Thorne. “There’s not really one or two individual playmakers. It’s everyone.”

Then the talent is “coached up” in film study and practice repetitions. Cooper has won five state titles at Bonny Eagle (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2013). Situational football is practiced, special teams are emphasized.

Gradually players learn to trust their own instincts and those of their teammates.

“Doing your job and trusting your friends on the field. I think that’s one thing that makes us so strong,” said Thorne, who leads the defense in tackles for loss despite missing four-plus games with an elbow injury. “We can just go out and play because we don’t have doubts and worries.”

In Saturday’s championship game at Fitzpatrick Stadium, Bonny Eagle (10-0) will face a similarly diverse and balanced team in North champion Portland (9-1).

At quarterback, Cam Day of Bonny Eagle has accounted for 1,718 yards of total offense and 24 touchdowns (12 rushing, 12 passing). Issiah Bachelder of Portland isn’t Day’s equal as a runner but has 1,590 yards of total offense with 29 total touchdowns (11 rushing, 18 passing).

Top rushers Alex Sprague (1,167 yards, 18 TDs) of the Scots and Dylan Bolduc (1,224 yards, 14 touchdowns) of Portland could cancel each other out.

“They’re a mimic team of us,” Thorne said.

So the game may come down to one big play, like three key plays that illustrate Bonny Eagle’s season.

THE 2-POINT CONVERSION

Bonny Eagle was locked in a battle with two-time champ Thornton Academy in the last week of the regular season, with the playoff home-field advantage in the balance. Trailing 14-13 with just over five minutes to play, Cooper opted to go for two points to gain the lead.

With backup quarterback Connor Sirois in to take the shotgun hike, Sprague lined up in the slot to the right side and then went in motion.

“That was my first time running that play. We practiced it a couple times,” Sprague said.

The concept was simple: Get your fastest player to the edge out of an unfamiliar set.

It also showed confidence in Sprague, who had earlier muffed a punt, leading to Thornton’s first touchdown.

Sprague said part of the successful equation was a “a really nice block by (tight end Christian Tripp) on the corner. He just flattened him.”

Bonny Eagle won 15-14 after key interceptions by Christian Napolitano (who leads the team in sacks) and Kordell Menard.

THE POINT-AFTER BLOCK

You don’t have to be speedy and svelte to be a playmaker. Nose tackle Zack Klein proved it in the South semifinal. Hosting Sanford, a team it beat by 36 points in the regular season, Bonny Eagle led 14-13 late in the third quarter after a Sanford touchdown pass, with Sanford lining up to tie the game with a point-after.

“I was mad about it and I was like, ‘I’ve got to do something to help us out and turn things around,’ ” Klein said.

“Coach Cooper is pretty serious about being able to block PATs,” said Klein, noting the team practices it weekly. “Because once you do it you can swing the momentum.”

Klein used his nose tackle skills to “swim” past the center, turned his hands down as he’d been taught and felt the ball thud into his rib cage.

“It stung a bit but I really didn’t care,” Klein said.

Three plays later, Day and Menard (who has seven touchdown catches) combined for an 82-yard touchdown.

Bonny Eagle went on to win, 42-13.

“It was the domino effect,” Klein said.

THE KICK RETURN

Cam Theberge had already scored on a scintillating screen pass and set up another touchdown with a 44-yard interception return in last Friday’s South final, but Scarborough wouldn’t quit, scoring on a 55-yard touchdown pass to cut the Scots’ lead to 26-14 with a minute left in the third quarter.

Emmett Peoples’ kickoff drove Theberge back to his 6-yard line, right of the hashmark.

He didn’t hesitate. Return left was called and left was where he was headed.

“We practice it mostly every day of the week,” Theberge said.

“Greg (Emerson) had a great block. I saw that. Freed me up. There was space open on the field. I just ran to the open space.”

Playmakers also know how to adjust. On a previous return, Theberge also had open space and got to the edge, only to be slowed by Peoples and eventually forced out of bounds. This time when they met at nearly the same spot, Theberge made a quick cut back to his right, getting past both Peoples and the pursuit, then turned on his speed over the final 50 yards. Bonny Eagle won, 40-20.

Does Bonny Eagle have more big plays in its season?

“You just have to have confidence in yourself and always be ready,” Theberge said.

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Football: Portland is uniformly ready to challenge Bonny Eagle for a Gold Ball http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/portland-is-uniformly-ready-to-challenge-bonny-eagle-for-a-gold-ball/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/portland-is-uniformly-ready-to-challenge-bonny-eagle-for-a-gold-ball/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1111459 Dante Hamilton started this football season wearing jersey number 52 for Portland High. At halftime of the third game, he switched to 48. Since then, and through Saturday’s Class A state championship game, Hamilton wears 31.

The reason for Hamilton’s sartorial subtraction has nothing to do with mathematics or subterfuge. It has everything to do with the Bulldogs overhauling their lineup to cover for the loss of their linchpin: tailback and middle linebacker Nick Archambault.

Archambault went down early in the third game of the season, at Windham, after planting his foot on the natural turf and feeling his left knee buckle. He remained in the game for one more play, but the same thing happened.

“At that point I was like, this hurts,” Archambault said. “I have to come out.”

One of the eight seniors who have been in the program since they were freshmen, Archambault is a captain and the undisputed leader of a team that also reached the 2015 Class A state title game, losing 24-14 to Thornton Academy.

“He was physically and emotionally our leader,” said wingback Jake Knop, another senior captain. “We would all look up to him. He would give us the speeches.”

“Nick’s one of the best players in the state,” said senior tackle Nick Giaquinto. “You can’t lose a player like that and not be affected. But I think we managed to bounce back pretty well.”

Here’s how Coach Jim Hartman and his staff shuffled players and positions at halftime of that Windham game: Dylan Bolduc became the primary running back and on defense shifted from strong safety to middle linebacker; quarterback Issiah Bachelder moved from free safety to replace Bolduc at strong safety; sophomore Ben Stasium came off the bench to play free safety; tight end Ethan Hoyt moved to fullback; Hamilton, a backup guard, replaced Hoyt at tight end. As an eligible receiver, Hamilton had to wear a jersey below 50 or above 79 so as not to confuse officials or opponents.

“They’re incredibly athletic,” Hartman said of his resilient seniors. “They’re all tremendous athletes and you can do more with athletes.”

Archambault also had handled punting duties, regularly thumping 50-yard spirals. After experimenting with Hoyt in the second half against Windham, a 42-21 Portland victory, Hartman turned to his quarterback, Bachelder, who had punted only a few times in junior varsity games.

“Our special teams coach, Tim Marr, came in and said I was going to be the new punter,” Bachelder said. “So we started working on that. I just catch it like a regular shotgun snap and kick it as hard as I can.”

The tinkering worked. Bolduc wound up running for 1,224 yards and 14 touchdowns. Bachelder ran for 449 and 11 touchdowns, and passed for 1,141 yards and 18 TDs.

The transition from strong safety to middle linebacker proved more difficult, but Bolduc wound up with a team-leading 91 tackles (33 more than anyone else), returned an interception for a touchdown and forced two fumbles.

“Our coaches do a good job of explaining to us more than one position,” Bolduc said. “It’s a big part of football; people can get injured. You can’t let that ruin your whole season. You’ve got to let the next guy step up and show what he can do.”

After dropping their opener to Scarborough 14-13, the Bulldogs reeled off nine straight, with the only single-digit margin of victory coming in a 35-27 decision over Cheverus in early October.

At that point, Archambault was working his way back, aiming to return in time for a regional final rematch with Windham.

An MRI had revealed a severed anterior cruciate ligament and partially torn meniscus. Playing with a brace would overcome the ACL loss, but there was danger that further tearing of the meniscus could lead to lifelong complications.

“I wanted to play again,” Archambault said earlier this week while seated on a weight bench, one arm draped over a barbell, after his teammates had gone out to practice at Fitzpatrick Stadium. “I started lifting, working out. A few weeks later I was sprinting, going full speed, running, shuffling.”

His hopeful rehab came to an abrupt halt at a Portland High pep rally as the knee buckled again when Archambault attempted to slap hands with Knop. Last week, two days before a come-from-behind 27-14 victory over Windham in the regional final, Archambault underwent surgery.

“It was obviously disappointing that I would miss so much of my senior year,” he said, “but it was more so disappointing to me because that’s not how I wanted my football life to end, on a pointless handoff where I get hurt. And my last memory of having pads on is looking up at the sky. It just kind of stunk.”

Instead of sulking, Archambault, who is ranked sixth in his class academically, helped break down film. He became another coach, trying to help Bolduc learn the subtleties of middle linebacker.

“He has a very good mind for football,” Bolduc said. “If the running back is lined up on a different side of the quarterback and that’s a tendency of a team to run or pass, he’ll point that out to me and I’ll pick up on it. If I don’t catch it in the middle of a play, he’ll tell me at halftime.”

On Saturday, Archambault will be back on the sideline, using his crutches and his experience, contributing what he can against a formidable opponent in Bonny Eagle.

Dylan Wike, a senior center, spoke for many of the Bulldogs when he touched on the emotional lift his injured friend and teammate provides.

“It’s in the back of my mind,” Wike said, “and I know it’s in everyone else’s as well, to go out there and get Archie a Gold Ball.”

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Football: Class B championship preview http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/football-class-b-championship-preview/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/football-class-b-championship-preview/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1111473 KENNEBUNK (11-0) vs. BRUNSWICK (10-0)

WHERE: Alfond Stadium, University of Maine, Orono

KICKOFF: 7:06 p.m., Friday

When Kennebunk has the ball

The Rams want to chew up time with their triple-option game featuring fullback Patrick Saunders (951 yards, 10 TDs), big-play tailback Jake Littlefield (1,209 yards, 11 TDs) and shifty sophomore quarterback Tripp Bush (514 yards, 5 TDs). They’ll need Saunders to make headway inside against a Brunswick front led by 280-pound defensive tackle Sullivan Boyd to set up the option. Justin Wiggins (236 rushing, 126 receiving), Bryan Hickey (24 catches) and Zack Sullivan (13 catches) provide additional ways to stretch the field. Turnovers have been a problem at times and Brunswick can create them, particularly outside linebacker Jesse Devereaux (3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions). The Rams showed what they can do if they hold onto the ball, gaining 497 yards in their 42-21 win against Biddeford in the South final.

When Brunswick has the ball

The Dragons’ Wing-T is designed to stress a defense in multiple places and then hit big plays. Hunter Garrett (1,496 yards, 20 TDs) is faster than any back Kennebunk has seen. If he gets to the second level it usually results in six points. Fullback Jesse Devereaux (743 yards, 10 TDs) and Ben Palizay (482 yards, 9 TDs) keep defenses honest and are threats in their own right. Kennebunk’s stout, athletic defensive front of ends Alex Hussey and Cole Hoffman, tackles Andrew Bouchard and Christian Putnam, and inside linebackers Patrick Saunders and Dante DeLorenzo dominated run-heavy teams Marshwood and Biddeford. This could be a game where Dragons QB Christian Jensen needs to connect with tall targets Jackson Gordon and tight end Corban Teel for chunks of yardage.

OUTLOOK: Senior-dominated Brunswick crushed every opponent until its 14-12 North final win against Brewer. Kennebunk, a much younger team, has won five times by seven points or less. After losing two straight title games, Brunswick is the favorite, but the longer this game stays close, the more momentum could swing to Kennebunk.

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Week 12: High school football predictions http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/17/week-12-high-school-football-predictions/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/17/week-12-high-school-football-predictions/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2016 01:27:11 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1111472 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/17/week-12-high-school-football-predictions/feed/ 0 Thu, 17 Nov 2016 20:27:11 +0000 High school baseball: MPA approves pitch count limit http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/17/high-school-baseball-mpa-approves-pitch-count-limit/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/17/high-school-baseball-mpa-approves-pitch-count-limit/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2016 00:55:50 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/17/high-school-baseball-mpa-approves-pitch-count-limit/ The membership of the Maine Principals’ Association approved a proposal Thursday limiting the number of pitches that can be thrown by high school baseball pitchers.

The new rules are in response to a mandate from the National Federation of State High School Associations that all states implement pitch counts for the 2017 season.

Each state is allowed to set its own limits.

Previously, Maine has had limits on innings pitched, but not for number of pitches. Now, varsity pitchers will be limited to 110 pitches in a game and will be required to take rest days based on the number of pitches thrown.

The breakdown is as follows:

 21-39 pitches: 1 day off

 40-65 pitches: 2 days off

 66–95 pitches: 3 days off

 96-110 pitches: 4 days off

Pitchers who throw 20 or fewer pitches will still be eligible to pitch the next day. When a pitcher reaches the maximum of 110 pitches, he’ll be allowed to complete the current at-bat before he’s relieved.

Teams are responsible for keeping their own pitch counts during the regular season, but the MPA will keep track of pitch counts for playoff games, based on the proposal put forth by the MPA’s baseball committee.

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Despite injury to quarterback, Kennebunk High didn’t stumble http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/16/despite-injury-to-quarterback-kennebunk-high-didnt-stumble/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/16/despite-injury-to-quarterback-kennebunk-high-didnt-stumble/#comments Thu, 17 Nov 2016 02:16:56 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/16/despite-injury-to-quarterback-kennebunk-high-didnt-stumble/ KENNEBUNK — Justin Wiggins doesn’t know what would have happened had he left the football in the belly of fullback Patrick Saunders during Kennebunk’s season opener at Greely High.

Maybe the Rams would have gone on to win anyway, and kept on winning week after week, never losing, five of their 11 victories by fewer than seven points. Maybe they’d still go on to face unbeaten Brunswick in the Class B state championship game Friday night in Orono.

Wiggins, a senior and the returning starter at quarterback, will never know. On that first Friday night of September, he pulled the ball back from Saunders, took a few steps and pitched it to slotback Tripp Bush, the third option. Next thing Wiggins knew, he was wrapped up by a tackler.

“I landed with my facemask putting a really big bruise on my (right) biceps tendon,” Wiggins said. “It was severely inflamed for a very long time and I could not lift my arm into the throwing position.”

The Rams needed a new quarterback. Bush, a 138-pound sophomore – and no relation to that other Bush family from Kennebunkport – stepped behind center.

“It was nerve-racking at first,” said Bush, who saw only mop-up duty as a freshman last fall. “But after the first couple plays it kind of went away and it was just another game.”

Just another game for a kid who, as it turns out, has been running the triple option since he was 7. He learned it while tagging along with his dad, Joe, a longtime assistant coach at Massabesic High, to the Mustangs’ annual preseason camp at Bridgton Academy.

Tripp did quarterback drills alongside the high school players. He learned how to ride the fullback while watching the movements of a defensive lineman, and decide whether to complete the handoff or choose another option based on the actions of the defense.

About the same time his peers were thumbing through “Amelia Bedelia” and “Berenstain Bears,” Tripp Bush was pondering dive reads and pitch reads. The triple option became “sewn in my brain,” he said, “so it’s easy now.”

After relieving Wiggins, Bush guided the Rams on a seven-play touchdown drive just before halftime and another of 11 plays to open the third quarter. Kennebunk won, 12-0.

“I was pretty impressed with Tripp’s management of the game right from the get-go,” said Coach Joe Rafferty, now in his 39th season, who also coached Tripp’s father, a 1981 Kennebunk graduate.

“The next week Justin couldn’t play quarterback,” Rafferty said, “so there was no decision to be made. I think we were 3-0 before he got the OK from a doctor to begin throwing.”

Wiggins, who had been a receiver before switching to quarterback, found other ways to contribute, as a slot receiver and running back, and in the defensive secondary. After anticipating a senior year as keeper of the keys, it wasn’t easy to cede control to a sophomore. Wiggins did so with grace.

“It was very tough at first,” he admitted. “But I’m a competitor. I care about the final score at the end of games.”

“Justin is just a freaky good athlete,” said senior co-captain Andrew Bouchard, an offensive guard and defensive tackle. “You can put him anywhere on the field. To be so open-minded as to do everything he’s done shows how selfless he is.”

After the opening game, Kennebunk won comfortably against three teams that finished with losing records, then edged Mt. Ararat on a last-second field goal. The Rams overcame a halftime deficit on the road to knock off two-time defending state champ Marshwood and beat Biddeford by four points.

“It became obvious for me,” Rafferty said. “Don’t screw up a good thing.”

The Rams were 7-0. Not only was their quarterback a sophomore, so were three other starters: Dante DeLorenzo (tight end/middle linebacker), Zack Sullivan (cornerback) and Cam Lovejoy (outside linebacker).

“As eighth-graders our team went undefeated and won the (Southern Maine Youth Football League) championship,” said DeLorenzo. “And last year five freshmen made varsity.”

Kennebunk, which won its only Gold Ball in 1991, returned to the Class B state championship game twice. In 1999, the year many of the current seniors were born, the Rams lost to Belfast. In 2013 they saw a 16-point second-half lead evaporate in a 30-23 loss to Cony.

Bush was a seventh-grader, watching from the University of Maine stands as Cony quarterback Ben Lucas rallied his team to victory.

“We came off the field and he was sobbing,” said Joe Bush, then in his first year as a Kennebunk assistant coach after 24 with John Morin at Massabesic. “He was devastated that we lost.”

Father and son were both named after Joseph Francis Bush, who died in February at age 84 and may well be the angel looking over Kennebunk’s storybook season. Tripp is a nickname as the third to receive the name.

“You know what, Tripp?” Joe Bush said that night in Orono three years ago. “This will make it even sweeter when you and I do it together.”

On Friday night, the Rams get a second chance with their second option.

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Football: Brunswick linebacker small in stature but has huge impact http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/16/football-brunswick-linebacker-small-in-stature-but-has-huge-impact/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/16/football-brunswick-linebacker-small-in-stature-but-has-huge-impact/#comments Thu, 17 Nov 2016 02:02:45 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/16/football-brunswick-linebacker-small-in-stature-but-has-huge-impact/ BRUNSWICK — Jesse Devereaux’s resilience on the football field is nothing new to his father.

Dan Devereaux recalled a particularly foreshadowing incident from Jesse’s childhood. At age 3, the future Brunswick High linebacker was running around the living room when he fell and hit his head on the corner of a coffee table – leaving a sizable dent.

“He was stunned but he didn’t cry,” said Dan Devereaux, who is an assistant coach with Brunswick’s football team. “He just carried on with what he was doing, running around with a dent in his forehead.”

The Dragons have benefited from Jesse Devereaux’s energy and toughness this season. The 5-foot-7, 160-pound senior has played a critical role in helping them advance to the Class B state championship game for the third consecutive year. Brunswick (10-0) will play Kennebunk (11-0) on Friday night in Orono, with the Dragons seeking their first state title since 1963.

“I’ve always been small,” Devereaux said. “But, I don’t know, if you have heart, you can do anything.”

This season Devereaux has 72 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, two interceptions and 11 hits for losses.

Devereaux doesn’t view his size as a disadvantage. He’s quick and agile, and said he can hide behind defensive linemen out of the opposing blockers’ sight.

“If you just use your head, you can kind of outthink kids,” Devereaux said before pausing. “It’s definitely not an advantage to weigh 100 pounds less than the kids you’re getting blocked by, though. I try to stay away from the big guys.”

On offense, Devereaux’s speed is an asset at running back. He has rushed for 741 yards and 10 touchdowns, thrown for two touchdowns and has another 100 yards in receiving. In his three years on offense, he has 20 touchdowns and 1,882 total yards as a runner, passer and receiver.

“He’s one of those kids that can do everything,” said Coach Dan Cooper, adding Devereaux is one of the few players on his team who plays offense and defense.

“He may be the smallest guy on the field but he’s probably the toughest guy out there. He’s athletic, fast, smart – he’s a coach’s dream.”

As a coach, Dan Devereaux said Jesse’s “fearless mentality” and “reckless abandon” as a football player is good. But as a parent?

“It’s nerve-racking – he takes some pretty good hits,” Dan Devereaux said. “But he’s worked hard and taken his lumps.”

Jesse Devereaux recently injured his ankle, which Cooper said won’t keep him from playing Friday night. Aside from that, Devereaux said he’s been fortunate with injuries this year. Last season he suffered a torn quad muscle and a broken hand or – as he described – “nothing serious.” He didn’t miss a game and played in the 2015 playoffs with a cast.

His teammates said Devereaux isn’t much different off the field. When asked about Devereaux’s personality, Sam Dorval didn’t hesitate.

“Hardcore – go hard or go home,” said Dorval, a junior linebacker.

“Jesse is tremendous. He’s just a leader and makes everyone play the best they can. He always tries to rally everyone up. If someone makes a bad play, he encourages them.”

Or yells at them, as another teammate noted – whatever the situation needs. Devereaux said he’ll “be in your face trying to get you pumped up” or “trying to get the crowd going if given the opportunity,” though he’s rarely on the sideline.

“The defense is solid and Jesse is that spark,” Dan Devereaux said, “but he wouldn’t be anywhere without the linemen who block for him.”

Devereaux is quick to credit his teammates – particularly defensive tackles Sullivan Boyd, Garrett Compton and Bailey Pelletier – with making him “look a lot better.” Brunswick has held eight opponents to 15 points or fewer. But for a team best known for not punting in nine straight games and averaging 53 points in the regular season, its defense gets overlooked.

“It’s exciting to watch teams score, but we take a lot of pride in our defense,” Devereaux said. “If we can keep them out of the end zone, I know we can win.”

Big stops on 2-point conversions earned the Dragons their 14-12 victory over Brewer for the Northern Maine title as well as the opportunity to end their two-year state final losing streak. It was also Devereaux’s last home game – a “bittersweet” moment. In his three years on the team, the Dragons have never lost on that field.

“If we can win with 14 points, our defense is doing something right,” he said. “They say offense wins games and defense wins championships.”

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High school football notebook: Kennebunk, Brunswick flip the script http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/14/high-school-football-notebook-kennebunk-brunswick-flip-the-script/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/14/high-school-football-notebook-kennebunk-brunswick-flip-the-script/#comments Tue, 15 Nov 2016 02:13:33 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/14/high-school-football-notebook-kennebunk-brunswick-flip-the-script/ After Kennebunk beat Biddeford in the regular season despite three turnovers, and beat Marshwood in the Class B South semifinals while committing four turnovers, observers had to wonder: What could the Rams do if they held onto the ball?

Biddeford, and the rest of the state, found out Friday night. The Rams gained 497 yards in a 42-21 regional final win.

Kennebunk hadn’t scored that many points or won by such a wide margin since a 35-6 victory against York in Week 4.

All season long, North champion Brunswick has seemed head-and-shoulders above every other Class B team. Kennebunk kept winning close games and getting a lot of “yeah, but” compliments.

Now the script looks a bit different for the Class B championship game Friday night at the University of Maine – especially after Brunswick narrowly escaped with a 14-12 win over Brewer in the North final.

“I know they’re (undefeated), but so are we,” said Kennebunk Coach Joe Rafferty. “Brunswick is a very good football team and their statistics are out of sight. How much better are they than Biddeford or Marshwood? I don’t know that.”

The Dragons might be asking the same type of question after seeing what Kennebunk did to Biddeford. The Rams had three 100-yard rushers. Fullback Patrick Saunders (19 carries, 176 yards) continued to get the tough carries up the middle. Jake Littlefield (13 carries, 121 yards) showed his explosiveness with three scores. And don’t forget about baby-faced sophomore quarterback Tripp Bush (nine carries, 137 yards) who is elusive on option keepers.

Kennebunk will be looking for its first state title since 1991, when it beat Old Town 13-12 in Rafferty’s 13th season at the helm.

Rafferty is in his 38th year and still exudes a genuine excitement for the game and appreciation for his players’ efforts. Kennebunk lost championship games in 1999 to Belfast (29-16) and 2013 to Cony (30-23).

Brunswick is 0-4 in state championship games, including the last two state finals against Marshwood (44-18 in 2014, 21-14 in 2015). The Dragons lost the 2003 Class A final to Deering 28-0 and lost 20-14 to Lawrence in the 1983 Class B final.

Brunswick won Class B titles in the pre-playoff days in 1961 and 1963 (tie with Madison).

Bonny Eagle and Wells shared similar motivation entering the regional finals. Both teams had lost in the regional final the previous two seasons.

“We’ve been to Western Maines three times now. We had lost two in a row, so we just came in knowing that we’ve got to win this one, we’ve got to go to states,” said Wells senior running back Evan Whitten.

Bonny Eagle junior running back/linebacker Nick Thorne said he was playing for the Scots’ senior class, particularly two-year captain Parker Gammon, the team’s center and inside linebacker.

“This is my third year playing with these seniors, and every year I’ve dreamt of being out here winning one of these with these guys,” Thorne said. “We’ve pushed so hard this season. We came out here tonight and we were like, ‘Man, last time we’re playing on the home field, we’re leaving it all on the field.’ There was a lot of emotion built up, and I walked on this field and I was playing for Parker Gammon. Tonight was for him.”

If the theme of going one step further holds this weekend, it bodes well for Portland in Class A and Brunswick in Class B. Portland lost last year’s state final to Thornton Academy.

When it comes to the Class C matchup, Roche said Saturday he didn’t know a thing about MDI. But Cape Elizabeth Coach Aaron Filieo said he knows enough about Wells to pick the Warriors to win the Gold Ball.

“I don’t think (MDI) would have beaten us and I don’t think they’ll beat Wells, either,” Filieo said. “Certainly, there’s a lot of seniors (at Wells) and they’ve been there before, at least the coaches and the program have been there. MDI hasn’t been there before. If Wells does what they do well and they execute, they’re just very efficient.”

Prior to the season openers, the Portland Press Herald highlighted 10 football coaches who were “forging legends of their own.” Each championship game features one of those coaches: Bonny Eagle’s Kevin Cooper (career record of 127-61), Kennebunk’s Rafferty (178-170), Wells’ Tim Roche (123-62) and Lisbon’s Dick Mynahan (209-84). Two men who didn’t make our list but probably would in the future, especially if their teams win this weekend, are Portland’s Jim Hartman, who won back-to-back championships at Yarmouth in 2010-11 and has the Bulldogs in consecutive title games, and Brunswick’s Dan Cooper, whose team is in the Class B championship game for a third straight season.

Jordan Cluff of Wells was a difference maker on both sides of the ball in the Warriors’ 27-14 win Saturday at Cape Elizabeth, playing the atypical combination of wide receiver and defensive tackle. He caught three passes, each time picking up a first down. Defensively, he was especially effective on third down.

Is Cluff the only player in Class C who lines up at both receiver and defensive tackle?

“I don’t know. I couldn’t say, but I love what I do,” Cluff said.

 

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Times set for football state championship games http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/14/times-set-for-football-state-championship-games/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/14/times-set-for-football-state-championship-games/#comments Mon, 14 Nov 2016 19:36:07 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/14/times-set-for-football-state-championship-games/ Games times for the high school football state championship games Saturday at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium have been announced by the Maine Principals’ Association.

The Class A game between Bonny Eagle and Portland will start at 11:06 a.m. The Class C final between Wells and Mt. Desert Island kicks off at 2:36 p.m, and the Class D final between Lisbon and Maine Central Institute will begin at 6:06 p.m.

The Class B final between Kennebunk and Brunswick is scheduled for 7:06 p.m. Friday at the University of Maine in Orono.

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Winslow and Gardiner come together in the name of hockey http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/13/winslow-and-gardiner-come-together-in-the-name-of-hockey/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/13/winslow-and-gardiner-come-together-in-the-name-of-hockey/#comments Sun, 13 Nov 2016 22:42:14 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/13/winslow-and-gardiner-come-together-in-the-name-of-hockey/ HALLOWELL — At this time of year, most high school hockey teams are all about setting goals for the season. Winning games, winning playoff games and competing for championships typically dot any list of attainable goals.

For Sarah Morgan, her goals are much less ambitious, though no less significant.

“I’m trying to memorize everyone’s names,” Morgan said. “Everyday, I’m asking people their names. I try and learn three new names every day so I can have them all down.”

Morgan attends Gardiner Area High School, which for the first time this season has entered into a co-op and will combine with Winslow High School to field a girls varsity ice hockey team. Morgan is one of seven Gardiner players to join the Winslow contingent, which has independently fielded girls hockey for several seasons.

The roster featured 25 players last week as preseason work got underway at Camden National Bank Ice Vault.

Chris Downing, now in his fifth season as head coach at Winslow, has marveled at just how quickly things have come together.

“As far as goals, we’ve already met one of the major goals, and that is that we are a team,” said Downing, who credited summer clinics over the past two years as helping the girls get acquainted with their new teammates. “You’re always concerned about that.

“I’ve been around sports a long tme. This is year No. 38 for me coaching some high school sport, and I’m having fun. It was always fun before, but it’s good to see a bunch of kids come together.”

There are 16 varsity girls hockey teams in Maine, split into two eight-team regions. Of the 16, 10 of them are co-ops. Six of those 10 teams are comprised of players from at least three different schools.

The Winslow/Gardiner team will be known as the Black Tigers, a nickname the players decided on during a team dinner prior to the start of practices. The girls also had a hand in designing the team’s jerseys, which will represent both Gardiner and Winslow in the design.

Winslow’s Kate Larsen was more than happy to welcome the new Gardiner players. Last year, Winslow went 3-15-0 and missed the playoffs, and Larsen believes there is talent within the new group.

“We’re all up for it,” Larsen said. “They’re really good players, and they’re a huge asset to our team. Winslow hockey has always been a pretty good team with pretty good players, but they are skilled, too. When we’re on the ice, we just connect.”

That connection appears to have taken place rather quickly. In the grand scheme of things, four and a half hours of practice time isn’t a lot, and the players are still feeling out systems and philosophies that they might not be entirely familiar with.

Still, there’s already the sense that the group has jelled. Morgan said that coaches and players alike have made the transition comfortable.

“I definitely feel like it’s been more than three days,” said Julia Nadeau, another of the Gardiner players to join the Winslow group.

Nadeau is playing varsity hockey for the first time this season. Unlike Morgan, who spent the first three seasons of her high school career playing on the Gardiner boys team, Nadeau opted play her hockey in women’s league games on her own time instead of participating through the school on a boys squad.

“It worked out well for me, because now I get to play my senior year,” Nadeau said. “I’ve played women’s league, but there isn’t any competitiveness to that. You just sort of show up and play hockey. To be able to play on a team, with games that actually could mean something and be able to go to playoffs will be nice.”

Nadeau is not alone. There are Gardiner girls who are out for hockey for the first time, having not embraced the idea in the past of playing on a boys team.

That fact should help the Winslow/Gardiner program beyond this season. With the growth of the girls game at the youth level, more girls are conceivably looking for places to play when they make it to high school. Downing hopes that once word begins to circulate in Gardiner that there is an opportunity for girls, the team will make further strides forward.

Larsen, Morgan and Nadeau are the only three seniors on the roster. Leadership, or any lack thereof with a young team, hasn’t been a concern for Downing.

When he circled back to the topic of building chemistry on a team built from players from two towns separated by 25 miles and the Kennebec River.

“I guess the best way to say it is that they’re a group that put the Gardiner and Winslow thing aside, they call themselves the Black Tigers, and they just get along,” Downing said. “The (Gardiner players) are just a good bunch of kids. The Winslow girls are just a great group, too. You put two great groups together, and it comes out really nice.”

Nice? In hockey? On a team featuring players from Winslow and Gardiner, two towns that have staged fierce rivalry games on the boys side over many years?

“I think for girls it’s easier,” Nadeau said of setting aside rivalries past and present. “Girls get along a lot better with other people than boys. They become friends a lot faster.”

“I think for us, it definitely worked out well,” Morgan said of the co-op. “It really depends on the people. All the girls on our team are really excited to play, and all the girls on their team are really excited to play, so it made for a good mix together.”

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Football: Lisbon stuns Winthrop/Monmouth in Class D South final http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/12/football-lisbon-stuns-winthropmonmouth-in-class-d-south-final/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/12/football-lisbon-stuns-winthropmonmouth-in-class-d-south-final/#comments Sun, 13 Nov 2016 01:10:26 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/12/football-lisbon-stuns-winthropmonmouth-in-class-d-south-final/ WINTHROP — Seemingly defeated by the improbable, the Lisbon High football team celebrated the impossible.

After surrendering a go-ahead touchdown pass on fourth down with 16 seconds to play, the Greyhounds completed a desperation pass to set up a 1-yard plunge by Noah Francis with less than a second remaining, earning a 20-17 win over previously undefeated Winthrop/Monmouth in the Class D South final Saturday.

A 55-yard completion from Tyler Halls to Kurtis Bolton, after a squibbed kickoff, set up the winning touchdown as the second-seeded Greyhounds (8-1) won their first regional title since 2006.

Dick Mynahan, in his 30th year as Lisbon’s head coach, said he couldn’t remember an ending anything like this one.

“Right now I can’t think of any,” Mynahan said. “I can think of a lot where it came down to the last 30 (seconds), something like that. But never when you just throw it up for grabs. I think this might be the first one. First one’s always the best one.”

Lisbon took over at its 44 after the top-seeded Ramblers (8-1) grabbed the lead on Nate Scott’s 18-yard touchdown reception on fourth-and-12.

“My head was down,” Halls said. “My coach said ‘It’s all good, we’re going to ‘Vanderbilt.’ ‘ That’s our vertical play.”

Halls gave his receiver a chance, hurling the ball downfield where Winthrop/Monmouth defenders gathered to knock it away. The ball somehow made it through the maze of arms and settled into Bolton’s hands, and the senior sprinted toward the end zone before he was hauled down at the 1 with 4.1 seconds left.

The Greyhounds called timeout and sent Francis, their 280-pound fullback, back into the game.

“I knew Noah was going to get in,” Halls said. “He’s the biggest running back in the state, the hardest runner.”

Francis surged ahead, and after being initially stopped, lunged forward a final time for the touchdown with only 0.8 seconds remaining.

The finish somehow overshadowed the preceding drive, which began with 2:09 left after a 3-yard run by Lucas Francis put Lisbon ahead 14-10.

Winthrop/Monmouth quarterback Matt Ingram guided the Ramblers down the field from their 39. On fourth-and-12 from the 18, Ingram ignored the rush, kept his eyes downfield and found Scott crossing over the middle. Scott made a defender miss, shook another and dove into the end zone for the touchdown and a 17-14 lead.

“We called the play in the huddle for the last two plays of our offense,” Ramblers Coach Dave St. Hilaire said. “We didn’t have the right lineup, we kind of drew something up. … The second play, it wasn’t the right call, but he hit Nate and Nate made a play.

“Hell of a game. Unfortunately it wasn’t the result we wanted. We thought we had it.”

The Ramblers led 3-0 at halftime on Tyler Cote’s 29-yard field goal.

Francis put Lisbon ahead with a 1-yard run in the third quarter, but Ingram connected with Bennett Brooks for a 44-yard touchdown that made it 10-8 early in the fourth.

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Football: Wells tops Cape Elizabeth, advances to Class C state final http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/12/football-wells-tops-cape-elizabeth-27-14/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/12/football-wells-tops-cape-elizabeth-27-14/#comments Sat, 12 Nov 2016 20:06:32 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/12/football-wells-tops-cape-elizabeth-27-14/ CAPE ELIZABETH — Wells High senior quarterback Owen Berry knew he had done everything he could to get his injured shoulder ready for the Class C South final after missing the Warriors’ first two playoff games.

At the coin toss, Berry lobbied Coach Tim Roche for his regular starting spot.

“I went up to him and asked him, ‘What do you want?’ And he said, ‘Give me a chance,'” Roche said.

It proved a chance worth taking. Berry completed a pass on Wells’ first offensive snap and continued to make plays at key times to lead second-seeded Wells to a 27-14 win Saturday at No. 1 Cape Elizabeth.

“I’ve played in this game three years and it was a loss the first two times,” Berry said of the regional final. “I just told everybody, I’m not going to be a loser this time. I want to win this one. I want to go to the state championship game.”

Wells (10-1) will face North champion Mt. Desert Island (9-1) in the Class C state final next Saturday at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium. It’s the Warriors first trip to a state final since winning the Class B championship in 2011. MDI will be making its first state championship game appearance after knocking off three-time defending state champion Winslow in the North final Friday night.

Cape Elizabeth (10-1) beat Wells 13-7 in the regular season to earn home-field advantage for the playoff rematch.

“When you have two teams that are evenly matched like that, you’re going to win some, they’re going to win some, and you just hope that you don’t lose the one that sends you home,” Cape Coach Aaron Filieo said. “To their credit, Wells made plays when they had to.”

Berry completed 7 of 9 passes for 125 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown to Riley Dempsey on third-and-14 with 1:56 to play in the third quarter, giving Wells a 14-7 lead.

Berry had twice been sacked in similar situations. This time, he adeptly stepped forward to deliver a high strike that was snared by a leaping Dempsey.

“I started moving into open space and Owen made a great throw, and I just had to make the play,” Dempsey said. “He did a great job today. He made a lot of big-time throws.”

Berry also scored on a 6-yard bootleg with nine minutes remaining to increase the lead to 21-7.

Dempsey finished Wells’ scoring with a 3-yard run with 51 seconds to play. That score was set up by a Michael Wrigley interception and a 31-yard run by Evan Whitten (21 carries, 111 yards).

Wrigley started Wells’ two previous playoff games at quarterback, throwing two touchdowns in a 35-0 semifinal win against Fryeburg Academy.

Berry said he treated his sore throwing shoulder with heat, ice and tape, and finally a pain-killing shot.

“There were a lot of questions about how Owen’s shoulder was, and it was one hell of a game by him,” said wide receiver Jordan Cluff, who caught three passes for 50 yards. “He saw kids when no one else did. He ran the ball. He got yards. He made a play out of nothing whenever he could. I’m proud of him.”

Going into the game, Cape Elizabeth was perceived to have an advantage in the passing game. Cape quarterback Jeb Boechenstein was 5 of 6 in the first half, with a 25-yard TD to Ben Ekedahl (six catches, 60 yards) and Wells’ secondary was called for three pass interference penalties, two on Dempsey.

In the second half, though, Boechenstein was 3 of 12 for 20 yards. Dempsey and Nolan Potter both made hits to cause incompletions. Cape’s lone second-half touchdown came when Boechenstein took an Ekedahl pass on a trick play for a 60-yard score with 29 seconds to play against Wells’ second-team defense.

“A lot of people question our secondary, but definitely in the second half we stepped up and made some plays and we just played great defense,” Dempsey said.

Wells’ defensive front held Cape to 29 yards rushing on 22 carries – just four yards in the second half, and none after Cluff shot through from his defensive tackle slot to slam Ekedahl for a 7-yard loss on a jet sweep to end the third quarter.

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Football: MCI breezes in Class D North final http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-mci-breezes-in-class-d-north-final/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-mci-breezes-in-class-d-north-final/#comments Sat, 12 Nov 2016 03:26:07 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-mci-breezes-in-class-d-north-final/ PITTSFIELD — Maine Central Institute was the best team of the Class D North regular season. And, it turns out, also the best of the postseason.

It wasn’t even close.

Top-ranked MCI smothered, stifled and overwhelmed thirdseeded Dexter, romping to a 41-0 victory Friday night and earning a berth in the state final at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“With this big win, it’s confidence,” quarterback Josh Buker said. “You need confidence in big games like that. … I felt like we had it for this game and we showed what we can do.”

MCI (11-0) also had a 36-2 victory against Dexter (8-3) in the regular season. Again, the Tigers had no answer for MCI’s running game, passing or relentless defense.

“We knew that Dexter was going to come ready to go,” Coach Tom Bertrand said. “We knew we were going to have to respond to what they did. We knew that they were going to try to get their passing game going a little bit. We planned all week, and our kids responded and did a great job.”

The Huskies punted on their first possession, then scored on their next four drives. MCI needed eight plays to go 40 yards for its first touchdown, with Willie Moss charging in from 4 yards to make it 7-0 with 2:20 to go in the first quarter.

On MCI’s next possession, Buker (8 of 11, 132 yards; 10 carries, 78 yards) found Adam Bertrand open for a 42-yard touchdown that made it 14-0 with 11:47 to play in the half.

“I don’t know if it was blown coverage or what it was, but when you see someone wide open, all you immediately think is ‘Get him the ball,’ ” Buker said. “(I was thinking) if I hit him, he’s got enough momentum to carry it in the end zone.

“Last game we went to their house, it was a sluggish first half. We knew if we did that again, they might punish us.”

Buker found Clark Morrison on a 19-yard rollout pass on third-and-14 to extend the Huskies’ next drive, and Eli Bussell ran in from a yard out to up the advantage to 21-0 with 6:29 to go in the half.

MCI got a gift with a shanked punt to set up the next series and took advantage, covering 35 yards – with help from a Dexter personal foul call that negated a second-and-19 – in seven plays and capping it with Buker’s 5-yard run with 1:48 to go in the half.

Bussell had a 13-yard scoring run in the third quarter and Pedro Matos scored on a 9-yard run in the fourth.

Dexter managed 30 yards on 21 carries.

“They’ve got great, great run defense. We were not able to run, we were not able to throw,” Dexter co-coach Brian Salsbury said. “And that translates to field position. If we’re not moving the ball, they’re getting great field position.”

“We didn’t do a lot different as far as run defense,” Coach Bertrand said. “We tried to get the push up front, get the reads, get the keys and make the plays. Don’t miss tackles, don’t miss assignments.”

They couldn’t have done it much better.

“We feel like we’re peaking now,” Coach Bertrand said. “We know the (South) is tough. We’re going to watch Winthrop and Lisbon play (Saturday), and we know it’s going to be a heck of a game in Portland.”

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Football: MDI ends Winslow’s run http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-mdi-ends-winslows-run/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-mdi-ends-winslows-run/#comments Sat, 12 Nov 2016 03:24:23 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-mdi-ends-winslows-run/ BAR HARBOR — Mark Shields, the longtime Mt. Desert Island High football coach, had hugs for everybody – his family, his friends, his players. Shields repeated the same thing, over and over again.

“We did it. We did,” Shields said.

With a ball-control offense and a strong defense, the Trojans wrestled away the Class C North title from three-time defending champ Winslow with a 12-7 win Friday night.

It’s the first regional title for top-seeded MDI (9-1). The Trojans will play Wells or Cape Elizabeth for the state championship next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Third-seeded Winslow, which was seeking a third straight state championship, ends the season at 9-2.

“I’m just so proud to be part of this team, but more important this community,” said Shields.

Chris Farnsworth scored the winning touchdown on a 1-yard run with 9:22 left.

The Black Raiders then marched to the MDI 21, but the drive ended with an Andrew Phelps interception in the end zone with 5:07 remaining.

Winslow got one more chance, taking over at the MDI 47 with 2:39 to go, but the first two plays resulted in losses of 11 yards and the Black Raiders turned the ball over on downs.

“Coach Shields preached that we’ve just got to keep sticking them and sticking them. We just (have) to do our jobs,” said MDI senior Colby Lee, who led the Trojans with 74 yards rushing.

MDI’s run-heavy offense controlled the clock, particularly in the second half. Winslow had the ball for just 1:13 of the third quarter, and MDI’s winning drive chewed more than eight minutes off the clock.

“We knew we had to keep their high-powered offense off the field. We were able to do that. To beat a program like Winslow, I mean, those guys know how to win big games. It just feels so good right now,” Shields said.

“Too much ball control by MDI,” Winslow Coach Mike Siviski said. “We had to be a little more opportunistic and better on offense. They controlled the ball. They played great. They did what they usually do.”

Winslow marched down the field on the game’s first drive, needing just six plays to go 71 yards. Nate St. Amand ran down the left sideline 46 yards for the touchdown, and Winslow had a 7-0 lead.

The Black Raiders had a chance to increase their lead on their next possession, but Ryan Gagnon’s 21-yard field goal try was wide left.

MDI scored on the final play of the first half when Lee recovered Graham Good’s fumble in the end zone. The snap was high on the conversion try, and the kick failed, leaving Winslow with a 7-6 halftime lead.

“We just had to put our heads down and persevere. We had to play with heart, and that’s what we did,” Lee said.

St. Amand ran for 100 yards on 10 carries for Winslow.

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Football: Brunswick edges Brewer for Class B North title http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-brunswick-edges-brewer-for-class-b-north-title/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-brunswick-edges-brewer-for-class-b-north-title/#comments Sat, 12 Nov 2016 02:55:21 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-brunswick-edges-brewer-for-class-b-north-title/ BRUNSWICK — The football team that hadn’t punted all season was forced to do so on its opening drive Friday night in the Class B North championship game.

In fact, Brunswick’s high-powered offense struggled throughout the game, but Dragons managed to get the job done, edging Brewer 14-12 for their third straight regional title.

The top-seeded Dragons (10-0) will play Kennebunk for the state championship next Friday night at the University of Maine. No. 2 Brewer ended its season 8-2 – with both losses against Brunswick.

“Their defense was good, they were really fast and physical,” Brunswick Coach Dan Cooper said. “They outplayed us for a good portion of the game, so I’m pretty proud we came out on top.”

The Witches held Brunswick to two touchdowns by Hunter Garrett. The Dragons were averaging 52 points and beat Brewer 42-12 in the regular season.

Ray Wood scored both touchdowns for Brewer.

“We hung with them,” Brewer Coach Nick Arthers said. “A couple things here and there go our way, and this is a different story.”

The Dragons punted for the first time this season with 9:47 left in the first quarter, setting up the Witches in great field position at the Brunswick 28. But the Dragons caught a break when Brewer fumbled the ball away at the 3.

Brunswick again failed to move the ball, however, and a fake punt backfired, leaving Brewer just five yards away from Brunswick’s end zone.

This time, Wood finished the job with a 2-yard plunge to put the Witches up 6-0. It was another season-first for the Dragons, who hadn’t trailed all season.

“I was not panicking,” Cooper said. “I knew we had a lot of game left and that the kids would eventually come around.”

Garrett didn’t need much time to answer, breaking free for an 80-yard run on Brunswick’s next possession. Again the 2-point conversion failed, leaving the score tied at 6-6.

Brewer threatened early in the second quarter, but an Aaron Carlton interception at the Brunswick 7 ended the drive.

“At first, we faced a lot of adversity,” Garrett said. “At halftime, we just went over our blocking assignments and really came together.”

With 7:04 left in the third quarter, Garrett capped a 69-yard drive with a 36-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Christian Jensen scored the 2-point conversion for a 14-6 lead.

In the fourth quarter, Brewer marched 61 yards, ending with Wood’s 14-yard touchdown run with 6:23 remaining, but the 2-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.

“He’s an unbelievable athlete, tremendous kid overall,” Arthers said of Wood, a senior. “He showed his heart tonight, ran the ball hard. Brunswick had a couple big hits on him, and he kept getting up and wanting the ball.”

The Dragons looked poised to put the game away following Ben Palizay’s 57-yard kickoff return, but Brewer stopped them on downs at the 5 with 2:49 left. Time ran out, though, before the Witches could drive for a winning score.

“It means a lot, we’ve got a gifted program,” Cooper said of Brunswick’s third straight regional title. “We’re all working toward the same thing.”

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Football: Bonny Eagle headed to Class A final http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-bonny-eagle-headed-to-class-a-final/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-bonny-eagle-headed-to-class-a-final/#comments Sat, 12 Nov 2016 02:37:42 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-bonny-eagle-headed-to-class-a-final/ STANDISH — Bonny Eagle Coach Kevin Cooper wasn’t sure how to describe Cam Theberge’s impact. He just knew it was huge.

Three distinctly different but equally explosive plays from Theberge keyed the top-seeded Scots’ 40-20 win over No. 2 Scarborough in Friday night’s Class A South final.

Theberge opened the scoring when he turned a quick screen pass into a 59-yard sprint and later scored on a 94-yard kick return to quickly stymie a possible Red Storm comeback. His 44-yard interception return to the 1 set up Nick Thorne for a short TD run that lifted the Scots to a 19-7 lead early in the third quarter.

“Oh, man, those plays, I don’t have words,” Cooper said. “The screen pass that he took to the house and obviously the interception return were unreal. Then he follows them up with the kickoff return. He was unreal tonight.”

Bonny Eagle (10-0) advances to next Saturday’s state championship game at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland against Portland (9-1). It will be the Scots’ first trip to the final since 2013, when it beat Cheverus for its fifth title under Cooper.

“Any time you earn a trip to the state title game, it feels pretty great,” Cooper said. “Scarborough’s a heck of a team. We expected a great battle today and they gave it to us.”

Scarborough (8-3) reached the regional final for the first time.

The Red Storm was coming off a brilliant offensive effort in a 36-29 win at No. 2 Thornton Academy.

Bonny Eagle limited Scarborough to 103 yards on the ground and quarterback Zoltan Panyi was 6-of-16 passing for 135 yards. Panyi did throw three touchdown passes, two to Cody Dudley of 36 and 55 yards, and one to Reece Lagerquist.

“Bonny Eagle has a lot of veteran guys and this has been their goal all year,” said Scarborough Coach Lance Johnson. “We had to come to their place after our big win last week and we had a short week because we played Saturday. I think they were just more ready to play than we were and did a great job.”

The Scots pushed the lead to 26-7 on a 9-yard pass from Cam Day to Kordell Menard. Day, who rushed for 66 yards, completed 2 of 4 passes – both for touchdowns.

Panyi and Dudley immediately followed with their 55-yard score, showing the Red Storm wouldn’t go quietly.

But Theberge gathered in Emmett Peoples’ kick on the right side of the field and sprinted to the left. Earlier in the half he’d had a similar runback in which Peoples was able to slow him enough that he was tackled at the 50. This time Theberge side-stepped the kicker and accelerated away.

“My role is to produce those big plays,” Theberge said. “We have great players helping me out and stuff. I just have good players around me.”

Panyi’s third touchdown pass, an 8-yard fade to the 6-foot-4 Lagerquist, came with 10:52 to play and cut the Scots’ lead to 33-20.

Bonny Eagle put the game out of reach with a strong 11-play, 63-yard drive, highlighted by a 26-yard run by Day. The senior quarterback capped the drive with a 1-yard run.

“We had that return and that just gave us the momentum to do good on offense and we went from there,” Day said.

In the first quarter, Bonny Eagle scored on the Theberge screen pass and a 75-yard burst by Alex Sprague (13 carries, 118 yards) to sandwich the first Panyi-to-Dudley score. Neither team scored in the second quarter as the Scots took a 13-7 lead to the half.

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Football: Portland repeats as regional champ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-portland-repeats-as-regional-champ/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-portland-repeats-as-regional-champ/#comments Sat, 12 Nov 2016 02:28:20 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-portland-repeats-as-regional-champ/ PORTLAND — A true sign of a great team is one that can turn on a dime and try something new when the initial plan fails to work.

The Portland football team switched gears Friday night when its running game stalled in the first half. The result was two second-half touchdown passes that propelled the Bulldogs to a 27-14 victory over Windham in the Class A North final at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Portland (9-1), the No. 1 seed, advances to the state championship game for the second straight season. The Bulldogs will face Bonny Eagle next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Quarterback Issiah Bachelder, who was 6 of 8 for 79 yards in the second half after throwing only once in the first two quarters, thinks the taste of losing last year’s state final against Thornton Academy will bode well for him and his teammates.

“Last year we were very excited to win this game and make it to states,” he explained. “Now that we know the feeling of losing in the championship game, it means a lot to get back, but it will mean even more if we get the Gold Ball.”

Second-seeded Windham (6-4) led 7-6 at halftime and made it 14-6 when it drove 70 yards to start the second half, capped by a 39-yard pass from Desmond Leslie to Griffin Hebert (four receptions, 105 yards).

But Portland (9-1) was unfazed, and answered with a touchdown. Mixing up the run and pass – after gaining only 64 yards on 21 carries in the first half – the Bulldogs drove down the field, and Bachelder was 5 of 6 for 56 yards. He finished the series with a 13-yard strike to Griffin Foley, then rushed for the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 14-14 with 1:00 left in the third quarter.

“I saw Foley at the last second and stayed in the pocket, and I threw it and I connected,” Bachelder said. “I didn’t see (the catch) because I was hit hard as I threw it.”

The Bulldogs’ defense then took over, forcing the Eagles to go three-and-out. Windham didn’t pick up a first down the rest of the way.

Dylan Bolduc and Richard Farnsworth each had a team-high six tackles for Portland.

“It was a little shaky in the first half, but these are tough, football-smart kids,” said Portland Coach Jim Hartman, whose team has reeled off nine straight wins after a season-opening loss. “We’re a very quick defense. They reached down in their hearts (and executed).

“This is fantastic. I am so happy for the kids and the high school. They get another shot. There aren’t many teams that get to go back.”

Two penalties were crucial on Portland’s go-ahead drive.

An offsides penalty on third-and-3 from the Windham 42 gave Portland a first down. Four plays later, a running into the punter foul kept the drive alive. Jake Knop then caught a Bachelder pass on the right sideline at the 15 and split two defenders on the way to a 23-yard TD reception. Quinn Clarke’s PAT gave Portland a 21-14 lead with 5:03 left.

“We had the quarterback in our grasp twice and he made good plays (on the touchdowns),” said Windham Coach Matt Perkins. “He did a nice job. Their guys played very well.

“It was a rough part of the game – in the middle of the fourth quarter. We made a big stand twice and then the two penalties …

“Our guys played hard and gave it everything they had. We had a good season and we battled all season long.”

Bolduc (24 carries, 125 yards) iced the win with his second touchdown, from 35 yards, with a little more than a minute left.

“The run really wasn’t working too well in the first half so we had to switch some things up,” said Bolduc. “You gotta do anything you can to win.”

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Football: Kennebunk tops Biddeford in Class B South final http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-kennebunk-tops-biddeford-in-class-b-south-final/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-kennebunk-tops-biddeford-in-class-b-south-final/#comments Sat, 12 Nov 2016 02:22:24 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-kennebunk-tops-biddeford-in-class-b-south-final/ KENNEBUNK — Alex Hussey, a senior at Kennebunk High, lost his starting tackle position early this season to junior Brennan Schatzabel.

On Friday night, in the Class B South championship football game, Hussey discovered a new way to contribute from the backfield, helping clear a path for Jake Littlefield when Kennebunk used a Power-I formation.

Littlefield ran for 121 yards and three touchdowns as the top-seeded Rams remained unbeaten with a 42-21 victory over No. 2 Biddeford.

Kennebunk will face Brunswick next Friday night at the University of Maine for the Class B title. Both teams are 11-0. The Rams last won a state title in 1991.

Biddeford finished 9-2 with both losses to Kennebunk. The first was 16-12 in mid-October.

In the rematch, the Tigers jumped ahead 14-7 before Littlefield scored with 2:31 remaining in the half to tie. Consecutive completions to Austin Dutremble and Patrick Pearl then brought Biddeford deep into Kennebunk territory, but Justin Wiggins of Kennebunk intercepted a third-down pass at the 7 in the final minute to prevent a potential go-ahead field goal.

“That was mainly because of the pressure,” Wiggins said of Kennebunk’s harassment of Biddeford quarterback Joey Curit, who completed 10 of 15 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns.

Biddeford had another chance to seize momentum with the second-half kickoff, but went three-and-out on its first two possessions of the third quarter thanks to Kennebunk penetration from Dante DeLorenzo and Christian Putnam on third down that forced the Tigers into 10-yard losses both times.

Kennebunk capitalized with scoring drives of 53 and 54 yards to take a two-touchdown lead and, after forcing another punt, basically sealed it when Littlefield burst through a big hole and rumbled 68 yards down the left sideline for a 35-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.

“It obviously worked out,” Littlefield said of following the 285-pound Hussey off tackle. “His blocks were there all night. It’s because of him and because of Pat Saunders that allowed me to do what I did.”

Saunders, the fullback, finished with 176 yards on 19 carries, including a 1-yard plunge midway through the third quarter that broke the halftime tie.

Quarterback Tripp Bush added 137 yards on nine carries, including a 16-yard scamper for the game’s first touchdown. He would have had more, but a 68-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was negated by an unnecessary block in the back.

“We know how to spread the ball,” Saunders said. “If you try to target one person, it opens up a hole for another person to make a play.”

Curit connected with Colin Lavigne on a slant pass up the left seam for a 44-yard touchdown with a little more than 10 minutes remaining to make it 35-21, but Biddeford failed to move the ball after forcing a punt.

The Rams took over and gobbled up the clock with an eight-play drive culminating in a 15-yard touchdown pass on fourth down from Bush to Wiggins with 1:46 left. Jared Dyer added his sixth successful PAT kick and Kennebunk was bound for Orono.

“I’m just thrilled for the kids,” said Kennebunk Coach Joe Rafferty, in his 38th year at the helm. “I thought our linemen did a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage. Defensively we played well against the run. We made some mistakes in pass coverage a few times, but overall I was very pleased.”

Curit had scored on a 2-yard run and connected with Curtis Forcier on a 71-yard reception to give Biddeford a 14-7 lead.

It lasted for a little more than three minutes, when Littlefield ran in untouched for his first touchdown.

“They’re 11-0 for a reason,” Biddeford Coach Brian Curit said. “They’ve got great athletes, they’re very sound and they’re incredibly physical. They’ll give Brunswick everything they can handle. I guarantee that.”

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Live Coverage: High School Football Nov. 11 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/live-coverage-high-school-football-nov-11/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/live-coverage-high-school-football-nov-11/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2016 17:45:22 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1107492 Live High School Football

Live Blog Friday football Nov. 11
 

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Meet the team that hasn’t punted http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/brunswick-kicks-it-in-gear/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/brunswick-kicks-it-in-gear/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1108233 BRUNSWICK — The Brunswick High football team is 9-0 and averaging 52 points per game as it rolls into the Class B North final Friday night against Brewer.

But there’s another unblemished mark the Dragons – particularly their offensive linemen – want to extend. Brunswick has not punted all season.

“That would be really nice to be able to say we haven’t punted the entire year,” said offensive tackle Max Friedman.

If Brewer (8-1) can’t force a punt or two, then it’s probably in trouble. Top-seeded Brunswick won the regular-season meeting 42-12, leading 36-0 at the half.

Brunswick is seeking its third consecutive berth in the state championship game. In 2015 it beat Brewer 49-0 in the regional final before losing to Marshwood in the state title game for the second straight season.

This season the Dragons’ big-play, Wing-T offense has scored at least 42 points in each game.

“If we get to the second level on our blocks, it should be a touchdown,” said Elijah Gagnon, the other offensive tackle.

The success starts with the guys up front. And those guys start with center Sullivan Boyd, a 6-foot-1, 285-pound two-way Class B North All-conference pick.

“Most teams, the center is the weakness. Not ours,” said Coach Dan Cooper. “He’s fast enough to block linebackers or wherever we need him.”

Boyd is flanked by returning seniors Austin Phillips (6-foot, 250) and Owen Sturgeon (6-1, 185) at the guards, first-year starters Friedman (6-0, 230) and Gagnon (6-2, 265) at tackles, and senior Corban Teel (6-5, 230) at tight end.

Boyd is the only one who starts on both sides of the ball, keeping everyone fresh.

“We’re definitely big up front in terms of size and heart. They try their hardest every play. When they get their blocks it’s usually pretty big holes,” said fullback Jesse Devereaux. “And as you can see from our season, we usually get our blocks.”

Each linemen is also given the ability to change the play call.

“They’re smart. They know their rules,” Cooper said. “If the defense is in a front where it’s an advantage for them, the lineman can check to another play. The lineman will make a voice call and then the quarterback will echo it to the rest of the team.”

Cooper estimates his team has scored on 90 percent of its first-team possessions. Brunswick has lost one fumble, thrown one interception, and been stopped on downs “probably at least five times,” Cooper said.

“Oh, you’re gracious with that. I don’t know about that,” countered Sturgeon. “I don’t think we’ve been stopped that many times.”

And on those rare occasions Brunswick has been stopped, what happens?

“Well, it always fires us up as it does any good team,” Sturgeon said.

Three times this season, Brunswick did line up in punt formation – all against Messalonskee (twice in the regular season, once last week in the regional semifinals).

Each time “punter” Hunter Garrett took off running and gained a first down.

“I don’t think any defensive team can keep up with us,” Phillips said.

Garrett has rushed for 1,213 yards and scored 18 touchdowns. Devereaux (693, 10 TDs), halfback Ben Palizay (473 yards, 9 TDs) and quarterback Christian Jensen (192 yards, 5 TDs) are also capable of breaking a big run.

“People can try to key on one of our backs and that just opens it up for the other two,” Boyd said.

The Dragons’ infrequent pass attempts also go for big gains. Jensen has completed 22 of 36 passes for 434 yards and nine touchdowns.

Devereaux has thrown three touchdowns.

“We just have so much talent compared to other teams,” Friedman said. “It’s not just concentrated on a few players.

“We have so many players that can do it, that’s one of the reasons we’re so successful.”

Ultimately, Brunswick’s success will not be measured by statistics but by the hardware it brings back to the trophy case.

“As a senior, I’ve played in the last two state championship games and we’ve come up short both times,” said Teel, who has a team-high five touchdown catches.

“I don’t give two cents about if I score or not as long as we win the game. Getting back there is our only goal.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

scraig@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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Football notebook: Preseason predictions have turned into realities http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-notebook-preseason-predictions-have-turned-into-realities/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/football-notebook-preseason-predictions-have-turned-into-realities/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1108270 A year ago the football coaches from Biddeford and Kennebunk high schools were looking ahead to 2016.

“The Kennebunk guys, I respect them and I like them,” Biddeford Coach Brian Curit said Thursday. “We were talking about the possibility of playing them in the Southern Maine final as many as 12 months ago. That was based on the fact that both of our teams had the most personnel coming back.”

Turns out the two veteran coaching staffs knew what they were talking about.

Friday night’s Class B South final of No. 2 Biddeford (9-1) at No. 1 Kennebunk (10-0) pits the league’s two most consistent teams and best defenses, giving it the makings of a close game.

“Here we are. We’re living the dream and now we just try to take one more step,” said Kennebunk Coach Joe Rafferty.

Biddeford has small edges in scoring (27.8 to 24.5) and scoring defense (8.9 to 11.6).

But based on the Rams’ season, they are the team most comfortable in a four-quarter battle. Kennebunk has won five of its last six games by six points or less, including its 16-12 home win against Biddeford, and playoff wins against Leavitt (16-14) and Marshwood (13-7).

“You know, we just kind of push it out until the end,” said running back Jake Littlefield. “Through everything we work as a team. Play after play. If it’s a mistake, just focus on the next one.”

Or as Rafferty put it, “At this time of the year everybody who’s left is good. You’ve just got to beat them by a point.”

Biddeford has gotten the job done quicker in the playoffs, using big plays to build quick leads for its stingy, swarming defense to protect in 29-0 and 22-6 wins against York and Greely, respectively.

The Tigers’ only second-half playoff points were a safety against Greely.

“I think that’s just a matter of the way things have gone,” said Curit, dismissing the idea his team wears down. “When you’re playing real good defense, you try to keep it close to the vest. Turnovers are what turn games.”

In the regular-season matchup, Kennebunk had a decided advantage in total yards (407-184) and rushing yards (336-110) despite being minus-3 in turnover ratio and Littlefield (5 carries, 24 yards) being a nonfactor.

Last week against Marshwood, Littlefield rushed for 189 yards and broke off six runs of at least 10 yards.

Biddeford should get at least an emotional boost from the return of senior fullback Brady Crepeau, who has missed five games including the Kennebunk contest. He began practicing Thursday.

“We don’t know how many snaps he’ll get and Curtis Petit has looked outstanding, but we’re really buoyed by Brady being back,” Curit said.

THE STATE’S two stingiest defenses meet in the Class C South final when No. 2 Wells (9-1) travels to No. 1 Cape Elizabeth (10-0) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The Capers earned the home field with their 13-7 rain-soaked win at Wells in the final week of the regular season.

Wells has given up 50 points all season and is coming off a 35-0 playoff win against a Fryeburg Academy team that won six straight games.

Cape Elizabeth, which has surrendered 47 points, beat Spruce Mountain 43-7 in its playoff opener.

But neither coach is sure the rematch will be a defensive game, especially with relatively mild and dry conditions expected.

“I think both our offenses were limited due to the slick turf and the late rain,” Cape Coach Aaron Filieo said.

Cape generated just 135 yards and Wells wasn’t much more productive with 199.

Wells Coach Tim Roche said Thursday he was still unsure who his quarterback will be. Starter Owen Berry missed the Fryeburg game because of tendinitis in his throwing shoulder. Backup Michael Wrigley threw two first-half touchdown passes.

“If Owen can play, he’ll start but we’re good with either one,” Roche said.

NO. 3 SCARBOROUGH (8-2) upset the Class A South region’s preseason predictions by knocking off two-time state champ Thornton Academy 36-29 to earn its first trip to a Class A regional final. Scarborough is at unbeaten top seed Bonny Eagle (9-0).

But in Class A North the preseason predictions held. No. 2 Windham (6-3) is at No. 1 Portland (8-1) in a rematch of the 2015 game – Portland won, 24-7.

Windham (6-3) earned a third straight trip to the regional final when Nazari Henderson blocked a 22-yard field-goal attempt by Cheverus to preserve a 9-7 win. Portland punched its ticket for the third time in four seasons, beating Oxford Hills/Buckfield, 55-7. Vinny Pasquali’s 55-yard punt return started the scoring and his 80-yard kick return capped it.

“Vinny has done a tremendous job,” Portland Coach Jim Hartman said. “He’s quick to start with and he also handles (the punts) very well. There’s no long rolls after punts and of course if he breaks one now and then, that’s a big plus.”

In the regular season, Portland won at Windham 42-21, using a punishing rushing game. Portland had a 32:26 to 15:34 advantage in time of possession.

Hartman said his team has evolved and can now play offense in a variety of ways. Dylan Bolduc has rushed for 1,099 yards at a 7.0 yards-per-carry clip. Jake Knop has a 10.5-yard average and has rushed for 536 yards. Quarterback Issiah Bachelder is completing 62 percent of his passes and thrown for 16 touchdowns, while rushing for 11 himself.

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Sukee Arena in Winslow to remain closed this winter http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/10/sukee-arena-to-remain-closed-this-winter/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/10/sukee-arena-to-remain-closed-this-winter/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2016 04:05:43 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/10/sukee-arena-to-remain-closed-this-winter/ WINSLOW — The Sukee Arena and Events Center will not open this winter because of ice-making equipment failure, leaving high school and youth hockey teams scrambling to find ice time as the dawn of a new season approaches.

Sukee Arena manager Annette Marin, the daughter of building owner Doug Sukeforth, said problems with the compression system used to make and refrigerate the ice in the building — which opened to the public in 1985 — are too costly to fix.

“We made the decision to not be opening for the season,” Marin said.

The arena planned to open Oct.15 for what would have been its 31st year of operation. A banner still hung over the facility’s entrance this week, celebrating the 30th anniversary season that was completed last March.

Marin said problems were discovered earlier last month when they prepared to put ice down for the season.

“We went to start the compressors up, the normal routine, to get things cold and make the ice,” she said. “The compressors never got it cold enough. We couldn’t get down to temperature to make ice.

“It’s been a month of just getting numbers together, of getting estimates for what it would cost to repair (the system).”

Sukeforth, of China, did not return several calls over three days to his home.

The building’s abrupt closing will have a profound effect on its hockey tenants, from youth to the high school level.

Girls hockey teams across the state began practicing Monday. The Winslow/Gardiner girls co-operative team secured ice time at the Camden National Bank Ice Vault in Hallowell, where it held its first practice Wednesday.

“We’re fortunate right now that we’re not competing with anyone else for ice time,” Winslow/Gardiner girls head coach Chris Downing said.

Boys teams will hit the ice Monday, leaving Messalonskee, the Lawrence/Skowhegan co-op and Winslow searching for ice time.

Along with the Ice Vault, Colby and Kents Hill are making their facilities — Alfond Rink and Bonnefond Ice Arena, respectively — available to displaced teams.

“The first thing we’ve tried to do is be as equitable as we can for all the high school teams, and that becomes a bit challenging,” said Colby men’s hockey coach Blaise MacDonald, who oversees scheduling at Alfond Rink. “We’ve had Waterville in here for years, but we want to do our best for all the other teams, both boys and girls.”

Winslow High School athletic director Jim Bourgoin said Colby has made early morning hours available, beginning at 5 a.m., although that presents a few logistical problems for the team. For example, he said, it would mean asking girls from Gardiner to head out at 3:30 a.m. on weekday mornings in order to make it to practices on time.

“The building is 33 years old, and we’ve had a good relationship with them and we’re thankful for all they’ve done,” Bourgoin said. “But this could have been a really scary situation for everybody.”

“We will survive,” Downing added. “We’ll persevere. We will find ice time somewhere.”

Sukee’s closing will have a financial effect on schools as well, Bourgoin said. For example, he said, the school did not budget for transportation costs to Hallowell. Costs for ice time at other facilities, where it differs, also could become a concern later.

Ice Vault general manager Bill Boardman said efforts are underway with Colby and Kents Hill to coordinate ice time.

“We’ve had a good, coordinated effort between Kents Hill, us and Colby College,” Boardman said. “We’ve already had a couple of meetings where we’ve sat down and tried to plan everything so everybody gets what they need.”

Like Colby, Boardman said that the Ice Vault has tried to free up more time, especially in the early morning hours during the week. Evening hours and weekend daytime hours are typically reserved for youth programs.

“Unfortunately, this is not a gym at a high school,” Boardman said. “There are a lot of different user groups at rinks.

“The goal of all three rinks is to try and make this work for everybody where it fits into our scheduling, while not disrupting the entire state of Maine,” Boardman added. “Someone’s probably going to have to do more early morning practices than they might like, and there will probably be some sharing of ice time and moving things around.”

Athletic directors from Winslow, Waterville, Messalonskee, Lawrence and Skowhegan are planning to meet Monday morning with rink managers to try to finalize practice and game schedules.

“We’re trying to free up some Wednesday time,” MacDonald said. “Myself and the women’s coach, Holley Tyng, we’ve compacted our practice times to accommodate more time for high school hockey on Wednesday nights. That’s going to be a positive that we’ve not had before.”

This is not the first time that hockey and skating organizations in central Maine have been affected by the loss of a facility. The Kennebec Ice Arena — the site of what is now the Ice Vault — was lost for a full year when its roof collapsed in March 2011.

Boardman believes that experience has helped make people more understanding in the wake of Sukee Arena closing for the foreseeable future.

“Our hockey community been very flexible in working through this and working with those other groups,” Boardman said. “Many of them went through that with our facility.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

tbarrett@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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Week 11: High school football predictions http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/10/week-11-high-school-football-predictions/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/10/week-11-high-school-football-predictions/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2016 03:16:38 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1108302 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/10/week-11-high-school-football-predictions/feed/ 0 Thu, 10 Nov 2016 22:17:29 +0000 Athletes of the Week, Nov. 11 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/10/athletes-of-the-week-nov-11/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/10/athletes-of-the-week-nov-11/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2016 03:00:04 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/10/athletes-of-the-week-nov-11/ GIRLS

1108284_617790 Charlotte Messer1.jp.jpgCharlotte Messer, Camden Hills soccer: The senior midfielder scored the winning goal in overtime of the Class A championship game against Gorham, giving the Windjammers a 1-0 victory for their first state title. The goal was Messer’s 26th of the season, tying Emma Gutheinz’s school career record of 67.

HONORABLE MENTION

Abby Hamilton, Yarmouth cross country: A senior, Hamilton won the Class B state championship on her 18th birthday. Her time of 18 minutes, 5 seconds for 5 kilometers was the fastest in any class by 9 seconds.

Malaika Pasch, Falmouth cross country: A sophomore, Pasch held off a late charge by Kennebunk senior Louise Holway to win the Class A state title by less than a half-second in 18:22 over 5 kilometers at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast.

Katie Clemmer, Yarmouth soccer: The senior forward scored twice to lead the Clippers past Waterville 3-1 in the Class B state championship game – their first state title since 2003. Clemmer also scored in a 3-1 win over Greely in the Class B South final.

BOYS

1108284_617790 Luke Laverdiere.jpgLuke Laverdiere, Yarmouth cross country: A junior, Laverdiere made up for a disappointing performance at last year’s state meet by winning Class B in 15 minutes, 49 seconds over 5 kilometers. He was 12 seconds ahead of his nearest pursuer and one of the two runners from any class to break 15:50. The other was Class A champ Tucker Barber (15:47) of Mt. Blue.

HONORABLE MENTION

Zoltan Panyi, Scarborough football: The junior quarterback completed 12 of 16 passes for 165 yards and three touchdowns, and also rushed for a score, in a 36-29 upset of Thornton Academy in the Class A South semifinals. It was Scarborough’s first win over Thornton in 16 games.

Eric LaBrie, Yarmouth soccer: The sophomore striker scored the winning goal in the Class B South final against Maranacook. LaBrie added another goal – his fourth in the playoffs – in the 5-2 state championship win over Winslow.

Peyton Weatherbie, Cape Elizabeth football: The senior running back rushed for 123 yards and three touchdowns as the top-seeded Capers rolled to a 43-7 victory over Spruce Mountain in the Class C South semifinals.

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Top high school athletes put decisions in writing http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/09/top-high-school-athletes-put-decisions-in-writing/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/09/top-high-school-athletes-put-decisions-in-writing/#comments Thu, 10 Nov 2016 03:01:27 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/09/top-high-school-athletes-put-decisions-in-writing/ GORHAM — Emily Esposito knew she would be signing her national letter of intent Wednesday afternoon, committing to play basketball for Villanova, but for most of the day she was unfazed.

“When I woke up I knew it was the day but I really didn’t think much about it,” said Esposito, a senior at Gorham High. “The only difference was I put on my ‘Nova hat.”

But when the 5-foot-10 guard began to sign the paperwork in front of more than 100 friends and family gathered at the school gymnasium, she noticed her mother Karen “getting teary.” That’s when the moment hit home.

For Esposito and several other high school athletes in southern Maine, the goal of earning an athletic scholarship was realized Wednesday – in many cases ending extensive recruiting processes. Esposito, who verbally committed to Villanova in May, had been courted by Division I coaches since her freshman year.

“I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about all the hours I’ve put into it,” said Esposito, who enters her senior season with the defending Class AA champion Rams with 1,034 career points. “Every day I’m like, ‘This is my goal for today.’ It’s in increments. The result is a huge goal that I’ve always wanted to do, which is to play Division I basketball. I think about that now and I kind of get chills.”

Esposito, York field hockey player Lily Posternak, Brunswick swimmer Caitlin Tycz and Scarborough track standout Sam Rusak headline a large list of southern Maine athletes expected to sign letters of intent during the early signing period that runs through next Wednesday. Football, soccer and men’s water polo are the only NCAA sports not active during this signing period.

Posternak, the state’s best field hockey player on its most dominant team the last three years, signed her letter of intent to attend Duke, the top-ranked Division I team this year.

Posternak finished the season with 33 goals and 16 assists, scoring both goals in York’s 2-1 win over Belfast in the Class B state championship game – York’s third consecutive state title and 54th consecutive win. The Wildcats went 71-1 in Posternak’s four years, with Posternak setting school records in goals (84) and assists (55).

She chose Duke, which advanced to the NCAA semifinals last year, over Harvard and Princeton.

“I’m sure there will be new pressures,” said Posternak, “but I’m excited to learn new things, just be pushed outside my comfort zone. I’m excited to just expand my game.”

Posternak, who hopes to major in design and architecture, said her high school career was “incredible, really. It was a great four years.”

She said Duke offered a better overall balance between academics and athletics. “I think it’s a great spot for her,” said Barb Marois, her coach at York.

Tycz will swim at the University of Southern California. She is a three-time All-American who led Brunswick High to consecutive Class A swimming state titles and holds the YMCA national record for the 100-yard butterfly (52.43 seconds).

Over the summer she qualified for the Olympic trials in the 100-meter fly, and placed second in the 100 and seventh in the 200 at the YMCA long course nationals.

Tycz trains with the Long Reach Swim Club out of the Bath YMCA. She plans to sign her letter of intent as part of a ceremony Tuesday at the Brunswick High library.

Her Long Reach teammate, Ann Tolan of Morse, plans to sign a letter of intent Monday to swim for Penn State. Tolan was Performer of the Meet in Class B, winning both freestyle events, and setting a state record of 23.39 seconds in the 50-yard free that was also a record for Bowdoin College’s Greason Pool.

Rusak committed to accept a full scholarship to compete for Connecticut, where he’s expected to focus on the decathlon. The Maine Sunday Telegram’s outdoor track athlete of the year, Rusak won the 200 meters, 110 hurdles, high jump and the pole vault (15 feet, 6 inches) at the Class A championships.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to go D-I so I’m very excited to have the opportunity to compete at that level,” said Rusak, noting that UConn aligned with his educational and athletic goals.

Letters of intent are used by Division I and II institutions. They are a binding agreement between the student-athlete and the school stating the student will attend an institution for one full-time academic year and the institution will provide athletic financial aid for the same time frame.

Division III institutions do not offer direct athletic financial aid.

Esposito, a three-time All-Telegram choice, burst on the high school scene as a freshman, showing a combination of athleticism, flair and hard-nosed tenacity that immediately made her one of the top threats in the SMAA (17.6 points, 9.1 rebounds).

Her aptitude for the game was grounded in hard work and passion. After having too many driveway shots swatted away by her older brothers Matt and Chris, she asked her dad Tony how she could improve her shot. He suggested watching a video of former NBA great Ray Allen’s shooting technique. Soon she was taking 100 baseline shots a day

Open gym workouts at the University of Southern Maine would start with 20 minutes of dribbling skills from old Pete Maravich instructional videos.

Starting in sixth grade she began playing for the Maine Firecrackers, which led to significant exposure and competition opportunities in tournaments in New England and beyond.

“That’s when everything started changing,” Esposito said. “I just became a different person. A better person, I would say, because they teach you more than basketball. They teach you leadership and I think that’s what I brought to my high school team.”

Esposito received her first Division I scholarship offer from the University of Maine during her freshman high school season.

As a sophomore she averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 2.9 assists. In her junior season, playing through a wrist injury that required postseason surgery, she averaged 18.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.8 assists.

“She wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her work ethic and her passion for the game, so that inspires me to have aspirations like that,” said Gorham sophomore center Mackenzie Holmes, Esposito’s high school and club teammate.

“She’s dreaming big and she worked so hard to get there. To have someone like that to influence me is amazing.”

Seven southern Maine baseball players who honed their skills with the Maine Lightning club team committed to college scholarship level programs, five in Division I.

The Division I signees are Ryan Twitchell of Greely, who will go to Rhode Island; brothers Reece and Robby Armitage of Falmouth, both going to Marist; Jake Knop, Portland (Manhattan); and Evan Balzano, Thornton (UMaine).

Cam Guarino of Falmouth (New Haven) and Jared Brooks of Cheverus (Stonehill) accepted Division II baseball offers.

Others signing letters of intent include:
Adelaide Cooke of Falmouth, who will run track at Division I Albany.
Brandon Hall of Thornton Academy, who will play baseball for Division I Wagner.
Abbie Murrell of Scarborough, who will join the Division II softball program at Saint Anselm.
Marran Oakman of Kennebunk, who will play lacrosse at Division II Assumption College.
Alexis Rozsahegyi of Camden Hills, who will play beach and indoor volleyball at Division I Stetson.
Garrett Lillee, a senior at York, signed to play soccer at Coastal Carolina, a Division I school in Conway, South Carolina. Lillee, a defender, played soccer year-round for Seacoast United, a club team in Epping, New Hampshire.

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CORRECTION: This story was updated at 9:25 a.m. on Nov. 10 to correctly identify Cheverus High baseball player Jared Brooks, and at 5:40 p.m. on Nov. 10 to correctly identify Falmouth baseball player Cam Guarino.

 

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