An empty ballfield tells the story of 2020, a year that saw the cancellation of the spring sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. File photos.

It was a year that no one could have imagined and was a year that we’ll never forget.

All of the spring sports season, part of the fall campaign and now the start of the winter season have been affected by COVID-19.

While frustration and disappointment have characterized 2020 more than anything else, there were some athletic highlights and that shouldn’t be forgotten.

With the calendar about to flip to 2021 (thankfully), here’s a look back at the tumultuous past 12 months:

January

When 2019 gave way to 2020, the Maine high school sports landscape was its usual busy self.

On the hardwood, South Portland’s boys were passing every test and looked like the favorite in Class AA South. In the North, Deering’s run-and-gun approach was paying big dividends. In Class A South, three-time defending state champion Greely had come back to the pack a bit, but behind sharpshooting senior Logan Bagshaw could never be ruled out. Falmouth, as always, was in the hunt. In Class B South, defending regional champion Cape Elizabeth and Freeport were in the playoff mix and in Class C South, Waynflete looked like a powerhouse while North Yarmouth Academy, thanks in large part to 1,000-point scorer Te’Andre King, was very much in contention as well.

On the girls’ side, South Portland, led by standout Maggie Whitmore, was close to unbeatable, while defending regional champion Scarborough was also knocking on the door in Class AA South. In Class AA North, Cheverus, under new coach Billy Goodman, and a talented Portland squad were hoping to knock off defending state champion Oxford Hills. In Class A, Greely was going for a three-peat, Falmouth was vastly improved and Brunswick was putting together another strong campaign. In Class B South, Freeport and Yarmouth were on a playoff collision course, while Cape Elizabeth was competitive as well. In Class C South, NYA was once again in the mix.

On the ice, the Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth, Cheverus, Falmouth, Greely, Portland/Deering, Scarborough, South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete and Yarmouth boys were all playoff-bound.

On the girls’ side, Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete was putting together its best season ever, while Cheverus, Falmouth, Mt. Ararat/Morse, Portland/Deering, Scarborough and Yarmouth/Freeport were very much in playoff contention as well.

Skiing, swimming, track and wrestling teams and individuals made their mark as they geared up for their postseasons.

February

Mt. Ararat/Brunswick’s Brycen Kowalsky won a Class A wrestling state title in February.

February brought plenty of glory.

In the pool, Cheverus’ boys won their eighth consecutive Class A state championship. The Stags were paced by individual wins from Quinton Hastings in the 50 freestyle and the 100 free, Brim Peabody in the 500 freestyle and 100 breaststroke and Jack Martin in the 200 individual medley. Mt. Ararat’s Anibal Berry-Gaviria was the top diver in Class A. Scarborough’s Ethan Schulz won the Class A 200 free. Morse’s Evan Willertz won the Class B IM and was also first in the backstroke. Cape Elizabeth’s Keegan McKenney won the Class B 200 free (with a meet record time of 1 minute, 43.72 seconds) and the 500 free. Teammate Ethan Smith won the 50 free and the 100 butterfly.

Greely’s girls finished runner-up to Mt. Desert Island in Class B, but Emma Cyr won the 500 freestyle. Falmouth had a pair of individual champions: Mae Causey in the Class B 50 free and Lilly Smith in diving. Morse had a pair of standouts excel: Haily Harper won the Class B 200 individual medley and Olivia Harper won the 100 backstroke in a new meet record time of 54.28 seconds and also took the 100 fly. Hyde’s Ella Stone won the Class B diving crown. Cape Elizabeth’s Caroline Mahoney won the Class B 50 free and 100 free. South Portland’s Margaret Jones was first in the Class A 100 fly. Scarborough’s Morgan Porter won the Class A 100 backstroke and 500 free.

Scarborough’s boys won another Class A indoor track title. Jayden Flaker won the 55 hurdles, Jarett Flaker took the 200 and 400 and Jacob Goff won the shot put. Brunswick’s Samuel Cenescar took the Class A high jump. Falmouth’s Adrian Friedman came in first in the Class A long jump. Mt. Ararat’s Lisandro Berry-Gaviria was first in both the Class A mile and two-mile.

Greely’s boys finished second to York in Class B and got wins from Sam Wilson in the mile and the two-mile and Riley Franklin in the two-mile. Yarmouth’s Chris Koskinen won the Class B pole vault. Morse’s William Carrolton won the Class B shot put.

Individual winners on the girls’ side included Cheverus standout Victoria Bossong in the Class A 55 (with a new record time of 7.2 seconds), 400 (a new record time of 56.95 seconds) and 200, Greely’s Marin Provencher in the Class B mile, Scarborough’s Emily Labbe in the Class A 55 hurdles and South Portland’s Anna Folley in the Class A 400.

Falmouth’s boys won the Class A Alpine ski crown. A.J. Noyes won both the slalom and the giant slalom. In Class B, Cape Elizabeth’s Lathrop brothers excelled, as Killian Lathrop won the giant slalom and Tiernan Lathrop took the slalom. Yarmouth’s Eleanor Donahue won the girls’ Class B GS.

Falmouth’s boys’ Nordic ski team won Class A. Portland, led by classic champion Liam Niles, was runner-up. Greely’s Leif Harvey took the Class A freestyle. Freeport took the Class B Nordic crown. Yarmouth’s girls won the Class B Nordic title, as Maddie Marston won the classic and the freestyle. Deering’s girls were second to Mt. Blue at the Class A state Nordic meet and Waynflete’s girls placed runner-up to Fort Kent in Class C.

Wrestling champions included Mt. Ararat/Brunswick’s Brycen Kowalsky (Class A, 120 pounds), Mt. Ararat/Brunswick’s Ben Laurence (Class A, 170 pounds), Falmouth’s Anunathaya MacDonnell  (girls) and Morse’s Morse’s Deja Douglass (girls)

In the girls’ hockey playoffs, Cape Elizabeth/SP/Waynflete eliminated defending champion Cheverus (which had eliminated Falmouth in the previous round) in the South Region semifinals. The squad then upset Scarborough (which had beaten York, which had eliminated Portland/Deering) in the semifinals before losing a 1-0 overtime heartbreaker to Lewiston (which had beaten Yarmouth/Freeport in its semifinal) in the state game.

The basketball tournament was eventful, like always.

Boys’ quarterfinal round winners included Cape Elizabeth, Deering, Falmouth, Greely, NYA, South Portland and Waynflete. The semifinal round proved a little tougher, as the Capers were eliminated by Wells, Greely’s three-year reign ended with a narrow loss to York and NYA was beaten by eventual champion Winthrop. Meanwhile, Deering upset defending Class A champion Bangor, Falmouth sprung a mild upset over Kennebunk, South Portland downed Gorham and Waynflete advanced by defeating Boothbay. All four remaining teams then met their match in the regional final round, as Deering was defeated by eventual champion Edward Little, Falmouth lost to York, South Portland’s unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of Thornton Academy in overtime and Waynflete’s hopes for a first-ever championship were dashed by Winthrop.

On the girls’ side, Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth, Cheverus, Deering, Mt. Ararat and NYA were ousted in the quarterfinals, while Falmouth sprung a quarterfinal round upset over Kennebunk and Freeport, Greely, Portland, Scarborough, South Portland and Yarmouth also advanced. In the semifinals, Yarmouth upset Freeport, Greely needed overtime to survive Gray-New Gloucester’s upset bid, Portland ousted Bangor, South Portland defeated Gorham, Scarborough was knocked off by Sanford and Falmouth’s run was ended by eventual champion Marshwood. In the regional finals, Greely’s two-year title reign came to an end with a loss to Marshwood, Portland was beaten by eventual repeat champion Oxford Hills and Yarmouth was eliminated by eventual champion Wells. Only South Portland made it through to the state final, downing Sanford to capture its first regional crown in 34 years. On the final day of the month, Leap Day, South Portland sought its first Gold Ball since 1986, but despite a strong start, the Red Riots were beaten by Oxford Hills, 49-38.

The boys’ hockey playoffs began with Falmouth making a long trip north to drop an overtime heartbreaker at Bangor in the Class A preliminary round. Portland/Deering won its Class A prelim, downing Lake Region. In the quarterfinals, Brunswick was beaten by Gorham, Cape Elizabeth upset Yarmouth, Cheverus handled York and South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete edged Thornton Academy. Cape Elizabeth’s fairy tale run continued in the semifinals with an overtime win over Cheverus. Defending Class B champion Greely began another title run with a decisive victory over Gorham in its semifinal. In Class A South, Scarborough eliminated Portland/Deering.

March

Another year, another Greely boys’ hockey celebration. The Rangers beat Old Town/Orono, 5-1, to repeat as Class B champions.

March brought hockey’s final games and what would prove to be the final games of the 2019-20 school year.

In the Class A state semifinals, Scarborough outlasted Edward Little in triple-overtime, while South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete’s deepest-ever playoff run ended with a loss to Lewiston. The Class B South Final saw Greely end Cape Elizabeth’s Cinderella run in emphatic fashion.

State Final Saturday, March 7, saw Greely repeat as Class B champions by virtue of a decisive 5-1 win over Old Town/Orono. Scarborough and Lewiston then ended the winter sports season with a double-overtime classic in the Class A Final, which was eventually won by Lewiston, 2-1.

As fans and media departed the Colisee, thoughts turned to spring sports starting a few weeks later, but it wasn’t to be.

On March 13, with COVID-19 sweeping the country, the Maine Principals’ Association delayed the start of the spring sports season to April 27.

April-August

While the writing was on the wall, there was still hope that perhaps some semblance of a spring sports season could be salvaged, but that hope was dashed for good on April 10, when the MPA announced that the season was cancelled. The announcement, expected as it might have been, still brought great sadness, especially to a senior class that wouldn’t get to play another game.

Throughout the summer, there was great uncertainty if/when a fall sports season would begin and as August came to a close, there was no definitive answer.

September

The answer finally came Sept. 10 and it was, “Play Ball.”

With a caveat (a few actually).

For starters, there would be no football (other than a seven-on-seven touch version).

Also, with no indoor sports allowed, volleyball had to scrimmage outdoors.

Soccer and field hockey got the green light, but there would be no postseason.

Cross country and golf would have state titles to play for (at least that was the plan).

On the 25th, for the first time in 202 days, countable games were played, beginning with NYA rallying to beat Waynflete in girls’ soccer, 2-1.

October

Portland’s Lydia Stein and Cheverus’ Helena Bolduc battle for possession during an October soccer game. The Bulldogs and Stags both enjoyed solid seasons.

On the 10th, for the first time in over seven months, state champions were crowned, as Greely’s golf team won Class A and Freeport captured a Class B title for the first time. Even better for the Rangers and Falcons, Andrew Klein (Class A) and Matt Kempf (Class B) added individual crowns for their programs.

Field hockey and soccer produced plenty of drama, even if there weren’t playoffs on the horizon.

In a season of non-traditional scheduling, Waynflete’s two-time defending Class C champion boys’ soccer team went 10-0, earning four victories over Class A foes along the way. The Flyers also gave longtime coach Brandon Salway his 300th career win. Dave Halligan got to the 400-win plateau with the Falmouth boys’ program and the defending Class A champions had another strong year, as did reigning Class B champion Yarmouth. Brunswick, Deering, NYA, Portland and Scarborough were solid as well.

In girls’ soccer, Cape Elizabeth had no peer, won every game and its most memorable performance came in a home win over Greely, when junior standout Maggie Cochran scored six goals. Brunswick also went undefeated, while Cheverus, Falmouth, Mt. Ararat, NYA, Portland, Scarborough and Yarmouth were also strong.

Freeport’s field hockey team, featuring an exceptional senior class, won nine of 10 games. Cheverus, Mt. Ararat, Scarborough and Yarmouth enjoyed triumphant campaigns as well.

November

Scarborough’s Ali Mokriski and Piper Duryee of Cape Elizabeth did battle this fall. The two-time Class B champion Capers went undefeated, while the three-time Class A South champion Red Storm came on strong late in the season.

The final games of the fall came early in the month, as Scarborough’s boys’ soccer team brought the curtain down with a 2-0 home win over Kennebunk on the 10th.

Cross country’s hope of holding a state meet was dashed the day before, due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, combined with a new rule requiring runners to wear masks.

December

When December began, athletes were permitted to engage in skills-and-drills workouts and regular practice was scheduled to begin Jan. 4, with games starting a week later, but on Dec. 18, Cumberland County received a “yellow” designation from the Maine Department of Education in its color-coded system that determines the risk of community spread of the COVID-19 virus. Schools within yellow counties are unable to hold any athletic activities, with coaches limited to communicating with their players virtually, according to guidelines established by the MPA and state agencies.

There is still hope that an abbreviated winter sports season will be held at some point, but if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that nothing is guaranteed.

Stay tuned and Happy New Year everyone!

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

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