Senior Anthony Poole will be a key offensive player for South Portland’s vastly improved football team. File photos. More photos below.

FOOTBALL

Coach: Aaron Filieo (first year)

2018 results: 1-7 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Elijah Azimi (Senior), Cole Benevides (Senior), Nate Ellington (Senior), Keenan Jones (Senior), Anthony Poole (Senior), Tyler Small (Senior), Caleb Viola (Senior)

Pivotal games: Sept. 6 DEERING, Sept. 14 @ Cheverus, Oct. 11 @ Portland, Oct. 25 SANFORD

Coach’s comment: “I like this group. They’re coming along. The guys are buying in and working hard. We can run different packages. It’ll be running back by committee. A lot of new guys will fill roles. These guys are hungry. They know how to compete. Our goals are high. Based on how well we’ve played so far, our guys should start to believe.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland is a vastly different program this fall, as Filieo takes over as coach. Filieo, a one-time star player for the Red Riots, spent 15 years as a coach in Cape Elizabeth, building the Capers into a perennial contender. He returns home to take over a squad eager to win. One which should be greatly improved.

Poole and junior Luca Desjardins will split time under center. Poole, in fact, will do a little of everything in the offense, including running with the ball and catching passes. Jones will also get an opportunity to carry the ball. Receivers to watch include Benevides, Small, junior Connor Dobson and junior Frank Tierney, who also serves as the placekicker. Azimi, Ellington (a league all-star a year ago) and Viola are top linemen.

Senior Nate Ellington is a top-way returner for the Red Riots.

On defense, Poole (an all-star in 2018), Desjardins, Dobson, Jones and Tierney will be in the secondary. Up front, Ellington and Small will hold the opposition at bay. The linebacking group features Azimi and Viola.

There’s palpable excitement about Filieo’s return to South Portland and the Red Riots’ roster has grown tremendously. Now in Class B South, along with a lot of traditional rivals, the Red Riots have an opportunity to be competitive every time they take the field. South Portland is on the way back to greatness. It may not happen this year, but it will happen. The 2019 squad can go down in program lore as the team that turned things around.

BOYS’ SOCCER

Coach: Bryan Hoy (13th year, 114-57-18 overall record)

2018 results: 10-6 (Lost, 1-0, 6-5 PKs, to Cheverus in Class A South quarterfinal)

Top returning players: Dillan Bolduc (Senior), Flynn McNally (Senior), Anthony Perron (Senior), Damir Brkic (Junior), Noah Dreifus (Junior), Joey Perron (Sophomore), Alberto Kissaka (Sophomore)

Senior Anthony Perron hopes to lead South Portland’s boys’ soccer team back to the playoffs.

Pivotal games: Sept. 21 SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 26 PORTLAND, Oct. 8 GORHAM, Oct. 18 FALMOUTH

Coach’s comment: “We have a lot of younger players filling major roles this season after losing a large senior class. The addition of Denilson Mowa, who moved here from Angola, is a huge help. Our back line should be our biggest strength. Bolduc has been a leader on that line since his sophomore year. The Perron brothers and Kissaka should supply plenty of offense and Brkic should be one of the top players in the conference.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland is coming off another strong season with another painful ending, as last year wasn’t the first time the Red Riots were vanquished in penalty kicks in the postseason. The program was hit hard by graduation, but as always under Hoy, will find a way to put it all together and remain among the top contenders in a deep Class A South.

Brkic and Kissaka figure to be top scorers. Anthony Perron, Joey Perron and new junior Jude Niangasa will also be heard from. On defense, Bolduc leads the way. He’s joined by Dreifus, McNally and senior Denilson Mowa, who could step in and make a major impact. Junior Paul Zechman and senior Corey Gagne were battling for the goalkeeper spot at press time.

South Portland has its hands full with turnover and a tough schedule, but this program has a lot of pride and will back down to no one. Look for the Red Riots to finish much stronger than they begin and be a team that no one will want to face come playoff time.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

Coach: Kevin St. Jarre (first year)

2018 record: 4-8-3 (Lost, 1-0, to Windham in Class A South preliminary round)

Top returning players: Maria Buck (Senior), Jordyn Hulsey (Senior), Brooklynn Ortiz (Senior), Hattie Tetzlaff (Senior), Evelyn Selser (Junior), Koto Yamada (Junior)

Pivotal games: Sept. 6 @ Cheverus, Sept. 10 WINDHAM, Sept. 21 @ Scarborough, Sept. 27 @ Portland, Oct. 8 @ Gorham, Oct. 15 DEERING, Oct. 18 @ Falmouth, Oct. 22 BONNY EAGLE

Coach’s comment: “It’s always a bit of a culture shock when you have a new coaching staff, but the athletes have been amazing in making a real effort to learn a new system and get used to new ways of doing things. I look forward to seeing what these terrific young women can do, including three freshmen who look to make a difference. In my view, the only pivotal game is the next game. We’ve got a significantly tougher schedule this season, as we’ve picked up Scarborough and Gorham, instead of two teams we beat in 2018. If we only win against teams South Portland beat last season, we’ll come out with only two wins out of 14. That’s obviously unacceptable. If we get this group to really play as a unit and to shift into that next gear, I think we’ll make some real progress.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland is looking to take the next step this fall as it welcomes a new coach in St. Jarre, who previously coached at Fort Kent and Massabesic (where he was named SMAA Coach of the Year in 2011). He takes over a program that has a nice blend of veterans and promising newcomers.

Selser was an honorable mention league all-star in 2018. She’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the midfield, along with Hulsey and Yamada. They’ll be in the mix to score goals, along with Ortiz and Tetzlaff up front. Senior Olivia Cloutier returns to the team after a year away and will also factor into the offensive mix. Look for sophomore Julianne Coyne to use her speed to create offense as well. Buck returns in goal. Three freshmen, Talia Bradbury, Isabella Schifano and Emilie Way, will make an immediate impact.

The Red Riots have a challenging schedule, but that gives them an opportunity to earn a statement win and garner some valuable Heal Points. Look for this team to steadily improve as the season moves along and to once again make the playoffs and perhaps this time, win a game or two.

FIELD HOCKEY

Coach: Sarah Millington (first year)

2018 record: 2-12 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Lauren DiBiase (Senior), Maddie Drolet (Senior), Mia Filieo (Senior), Lydia Grant (Senior), Chloe MacVane (Junior)

Senior Lydia Grant hopes to lead a playoff charge for the new-look South Portland field hockey team.

Pivotal games: Sept. 18 @ Westbrook, Sept. 24 FALMOUTH, Oct. 4 BIDDEFORD, Oct. 10 CHEVERUS, Oct. 16 @ Scarborough

Coach’s comment: “We have a lot of leadership. We have 12 seniors and five juniors and seven starters returning. We hope to rebound from last year. We’re focusing on self-confidence. It’s going to be a strong league. There will be a lot of tight games. I’d like for us to make the playoffs. That’s a realistic goal if we work hard together.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland is primed to move up the standings as it welcomes a new coach this fall. Millington (Class of 2002) played for the Red Riots and at Endicott College and has spent a decade coaching field hockey in South Portland, including last year as the junior varsity coach. She takes over a team that has features some talent.

Grant was a second-team league all-star in 2018 and returns as a top scoring threat. Grant can play in the midfield or forward. Senior Mia Filieo and junior Lucie Beaulieu are other girls looking to finish up top. DiBiase will be a force in the midfield. Defensively, MacVane (the team’s Rookie of the Year last fall), senior Shaelyn Kierstead and junior Emma Darling will look to slow the opposition in front of Drolet, who returns in goal.

Last year, South Portland lost eight games by a goal, three in overtime. That suggests that the Red Riots are close to being a winner. If they can turn some of those close losses into victories this season, a run at a winning record and a playoff berth is realistic. This is a squad that could be the big surprise of the fall.

VOLLEYBALL

Coach: Nicole Kane (fifth year, 27-34 overall record)

2018 record: 6-9 (Lost, 3-1, to Thornton Academy in Class A state preliminary round)

Top returning players: Ashlee Aceto (Senior), Kaleisha Towle (Senior), Maria Degifico (Junior), Pearl Friedland-Farley (Sophomore)

Senior Ashlee Aceto and her South Portland volleyball teammates could be a top contender in Class A this fall.

Pivotal matches: Sept. 10 @ Gorham, Oct. 1 @ Thornton Academy, Oct. 15 SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 17 @ Biddeford

Coach’s comment: “This could be a successful season for us if we can keep our starting lineup healthy. We have five returning starters, three who started in the 2017 state match. Our senior class is large and hopes to finish off their careers with a season similar to 2017. Defense will be a large focus for us this season. We know we can pass well and we have players who can put the ball away. We hope to continue to be a successful program and stun some of the stronger teams in the division.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland wasn’t able to duplicate its 2017-run-to-states magic last fall, but the Red Riots remained competitive and made it back to the playoffs. This fall, South Portland figures to be in the thick of a deep and talented Class A.

Friedland-Farley was a first-team all-star as a freshman and will be a defensive standout. Aceto was an honorable mention all-star in 2018 and is one of the top setters around. Degifico and Towle, along with new junior Samantha Hillier, will make life miserable for the opposition at the net.

While teams like defending champion Falmouth, runner-up Gorham, Scarborough, Biddeford and Thornton Academy stand in the way, South Portland will rise to the challenge. Look for the Red Riots to be a very difficult foe, both in the regular season and in the playoffs as well.

CROSS COUNTRY

Coaches:
(Boys) Dave Kahill (eighth year)
(Girls) Karen Reardon (17th year)

2017 results:
(Boys) DNQ for Class A state meet (12th @ regionals)
(Girls) DNQ for Class A state meet (17th @ regionals)

Top returners:
(Boys) Oscar Sullivan (Senior), Nic Borelli (Junior), T.J. Vose (Junior), Jacob Ramos (Sophomore)
(Girls) Grace Caselden (Senior), Molly Woodhouse (Senior), Rachel Kingsley (Junior), Bella Carrier (Sophomore), Audrey Pearson (Sophomore)

Senior Grace Caselden is a top returning runner for South Portland’s girls’ cross country team.

Coach Kahill’s comment: “This year’s team is extremely enthusiastic and hard-working. We are relatively young, as 15 of 23 team members are freshmen and sophomores, but the juniors and seniors definitely provide leadership, cohesion and motivation. If we improve together, develop underclass talent and compete vigorously throughout the season, then we have the potential to get back to the state championship meet.”

Coach Reardon’s comment:  “When I look at our times compared to the rest of the schools, we are improving. We still need to work harder and run faster, but we are going to be able to have a pack this year and if we can get them to take turns pushing the pace, we will be able to be much closer to teams and take some down too. The girls are working harder, they realize they need to get better and are making good progress. The team is a great group of girls that support each other a lot through the hard work. We also have fun while we’re doing it. Our major goal is to improve the program. I think this group has a good chance to do that and an outside chance to get close to qualifying for states again, which is always the main goal. It looks to be an exciting season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Both South Portland cross country teams look  to make it to the state meet this autumn and have the pieces in place to do so.

The boys’ squad returns regional meet scorers Borelli (34th), Ramos (62nd) and Vose (109th), who all look to move up this season. Freshman Petros Engelhardt will step right in and make an impact as well after excelling at the middle school level. Senior Liam Piper hopes to return to form after missing last year with a knee injury. Sullivan is a veteran and sophomores Eben Drolet, Brady Guay and Lucas Lefebvre, along with freshmen Harrison Jones and Jack Nickerson, will all vie for places in the pack. While defending state champion Scarborough remains the favorite and powers like Falmouth, Bonny Eagle, Deering, Kennebunk and Massabesic also loom, the Red Riots believe they can improve to the point where they will finish in the top half at regionals and get to states for the first time since 2016.

On the girls’ side, Carrier is coming off a strong freshman season. She was the team’s second-top scorer at the regional meet and could lead the way this fall. Kingsley also scored at last year’s regional meet. Caselden is a four-year runner, who looks to finish strong. Woodhouse also has experience. Pearson hopes to move up the standings. Junior Katie Riley is new to the team and shows promise. Freshman Lily Henriksen could step right in and be one of the squad’s fastest girls. South Portland will be more competitive throughout the season and will move up the standings at regionals. If that’s enough to earn a berth at the state meet remains to be seen. The program is trending in the right direction.

GOLF

Coach: Tom Hyland (eighth year)

2018 results: 1-9 (DNQ for Class A state match)

Top returners: Calvin Flaherty (Senior), Noah Lewis (Senior), Andrew Varipatis (Senior), Brady Doucette (Junior), Alex Leupold (Junior), Alex Beecher (Sophomore), Aidan Gorneau (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Our season looks bright and our future looks strong. We have had an excellent preseason. The players have worked hard and efficiently. We return our top three, as well as several players who played a prominent role last season. We’ll be very competitive as individuals and as a team. We have high expectations of qualifying individuals and our team for the state championships.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland has a nice mixture of veterans and newcomers this season and looks to be more of factor in a very challenging division as it plays its home matches at Nonesuch River this fall.

Varipatis was a second-team league all-star in 2018 and leads the way, along with Flaherty and Leupold. Beecher, Doucette, Gorneau and Lewis also have experience and will play key roles. New sophomore Wyatt Adams and freshmen Lucas Flaherty, Lucas Inman and Ben Stanley hope to be heard from as well.

The Red Riots have no easy matches, so their win-loss record could belie their growth. This is a team that could be dangerous by the end of the year and if all goes well, it’s possible a trip to the state match could be the end result.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports


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