FOOTBALL

Coach: Aaron Filieo (second year)

2020 results: No season
2019 record
: 7-3 (Lost, 49-6, to Marshwood in Class B South semifinals)

Top returning players: Amir Broadus (senior), Jack Cole (senior)

Pivotal games: Sept. 3 SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 17 BIDDEFORD, Sept. 24 @ Marshwood, Oct. 1 KENNEBUNK, Oct. 16 PORTLAND

Coach’s comment: “We’re having a good preseason. Our numbers are very good. We have more kids out than in 2019. We have a good group of seniors and a good junior class. A lot of athletes. I think we have a similar team to two years ago. Our leadership and camaraderie are strong. We’re trying to catch up to Kennebunk and Marshwood. We want to build on what we accomplished in 2019. We’re excited for the season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland was the feel-good story of the 2019 campaign, as Filieo made his triumphant return to his alma mater and the Red Riots win total increased from one the year before to seven, including a playoff victory. Hopes to build on that momentum were squashed last season, however, as the pandemic prevented South Portland from playing a single game. This year, the Red Riots are looking to build not only on their 2019 season on the gridiron, but also on the school’s baseball state title in June and with several players from that team on the roster, it’s quite likely the good times will continue.

South Portland will employ a pair of talented quarterbacks, senior Nate Rende and junior Jaelen Jackson, both of whom will make life challenging for the opposition. When Jackson isn’t behind center, he’ll be a receiver and top threat to stretch the field, along with senior Ryan Thurber and junior tight ends Josh Sparacio, Richie Gilboy and Nolan Hobbs. senior Finn O’Connell and junior Jonny Poole will do the lion’s share of the ball-carrying. The line is anchored by the two veterans, Broadus and Cole. They’re joined by seniors Blake Kierstead, Evan Saunders and J.T. West. The Red Riots should have no trouble moving the ball or punching it into the end zone.

On defense, Broadus, Gilboy, Kierstead, Saunders, Sparacio and West will all see time on the line. Top linebackers include Cole, O’Connell and Thurber. In the secondary, look for Jackson, Poole and Rende to shut down the opposition.

South Portland will sneak up on no one this season and every opponent will be primed to face the Red Riots. That’s fine by Coach Filieo and his charges, as that’s what a top contender should expect and South Portland now views itself as such. The schedule is daunting, starting with an Opening Night showdown versus Class A contender Scarborough. While Kennebunk and Marshwood are viewed as the teams to beat in Class B South, the Red Riots believe they’ll be right there as well. With some winning magic in the air in South Portland, it wouldn’t be smart to bet otherwise.

BOYS’ SOCCER

Senior Joey Perron will play a big role in the success of South Portland’s boys’ soccer team this fall. File photos

Coach: Bryan Hoy (15th year, 126-70-19 overall record)

2020 results: 2-8 (no postseason)
2019 record
: 10-5-1 (Lost, 2-1, to Portland in Class A South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Cullen Adams (senior), Kenny Carlisle (senior), Jack Houle (senior), Alberto Kissaka (senior), Joey Perron (senior), Divin Mpinga (junior)

Pivotal games: Sept. 3 @ Cheverus, Sept. 18 @ Scarborough, Sept. 24 @ Portland, Oct. 6 @ Gorham, Oct. 13 DEERING, Oct. 16 @ Falmouth

Coach’s comment: “We have a pretty good club returning. Most of our players were with us last year. We should be able to generate goal-scoring opportunities with Perron and Kissaka, both four-year varsity players, leading the way. Defensively, Jack Houle should be one of the top backs in the conference and he’ll be flanked by three other seniors with lots of experience. (Thomas) Caouette had a great sophomore year splitting time in goal and is ready to take on the full responsibility. Divin Mpinga is a player people will know about by the end of the year, if they don’t already. He joined us last season and has grown as a player quite a bit during the offseason.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland didn’t get an opportunity to play for a playoff spot in 2020 due to the pandemic, and this year, the Red Riots might just be a dark horse in Class A South.

Kissaka and Perron lead the offense this year with Mpinga likely playing a large role as well. Look for senior Nzuzi Mvula and juniors Jouse Kiese and Joel Kiala Luzolo to step in and make an impact on that end of the field. Defensively, Adams, Carlisle and Houle will shut down the opposition in front of junior goalkeeper Thomas Caouette.

It won’t take long for word to get out that South Portland is a team to be reckoned with. The Red Riots might not be a favorite in the region, but they’ll hold their own against everyone and could be a team that no one wants to face in the crucible of the postseason.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

Senior Julia Flaherty and her South Portland girls’ soccer teammates look to surprise some foes during the course of the season.

Coach: Adam Perron (second year)

2020 results: 2-8 (no postseason held)
2019 record
: 3-12 (Lost, 5-0, to Windham in Class A South preliminary round)

Top returning players: Elise Connor (senior), Julianna Coyne (senior), Abby Dresser (senior), Julia Flaherty (senior), Maggie Flaherty (senior), Alice Marenghi (senior), Eliese Perron (senior), Eva Tierney-Trevor (senior), Ava Bryant (junior), Samantha Duffy (junior), Talia Lee (junior)

Pivotal games: Sept. 4 CHEVERUS, Sept. 7 @ Windham, Sept. 18 SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 23 PORTLAND, Oct. 5 GORHAM, Oct. 12 @ Deering, Oct. 14 FALMOUTH

Coach’s comment: “It’s tough to know where teams fall after last year. We’re looking forward to competing with each team. I’m very excited to work with this group of student-athletes to continue to grow our program. Our goal is to be in the mix by the end of the year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland returns a lot of talented athletes this fall and brings on some promising players as well as it looks to climb up the competitive ladder.

Up top, look for Coyne, Marenghi and Tierney-Trevor to put a lot of pressure on the opposition. Freshman Marina Bassett will also be involved in the offense. In the midfield, Bryant, Lee and Perron are top returners. They’re joined by freshman Emma Travis. The Red Riots return Connor in goal and she’ll be supported by defenders Dresser, Duffy, Julia Flaherty, Maggie Flaherty and new sophomores Samantha Clyde and Ava Smart. junior Kathryn O’Hare and sophomore Ryan Richambault will also have a chance to play in goal.

South Portland isn’t on the short list of favorites in Class A South, but the Red Riots are primed to surprise and will win their share of games. They could be a very difficult team to face in the playoffs as well.

FIELD HOCKEY

Coach: Sarah Millington (third year, 6-15-1 overall record)

2020 results: 2-5-1 (no postseason)
2019 record:
 4-10 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Bonny Johnston (senior), Andrea DiMauro (sophomore), Emily Keefe (sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 14 @ Gorham, Sept. 22 @ Falmouth, Sept. 28 @ Portland/Deering, Oct. 8 @ Cheverus, Oct. 12 WESTBROOK, Oct. 14 SCARBOROUGH

Coach’s comment: “We are young this year, but we are mighty. We have strong athletes on this team who are picking the game up fast and eager to compete. Our goal is to develop as a team as much and as quickly as possible and compete with and challenge as many teams as we can, hoping we’re landing into a playoff spot in the end.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland enters the season full of optimism and there’s reason to believe the Red Riots could be one of the feel-good stories this fall.

Johnston is a four-year varsity player who will anchor the defense. Keefe returns in goal after showing promise last season. In the midfield, DiMauro has experience. She’ll be joined by sophomore Ella Nickerson. On attack, junior Rain Jordan could be a breakout player. Jordan has made her presence felt in lacrosse and looks to become a star in field hockey as well.

South Portland has many challenges in front of it, but this is a team that should steadily improve. If everything goes well, the Red Riots could make a run at the program’s first winning record since 2010 and make some noise in the playoffs.

VOLLEYBALL

Senior Pearl Friedland-Farley is always in the middle of the action for South Portland’s volleyball team.

Coach: Sarah Marckoon (first year)

2020 results: No season
2019 record
: 11-4 (Lost, 3-2, to Windham in Class A state quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Carrie Clark (senior), Pearl Friedland-Farley (senior), Ashley Thurston (senior)

Pivotal matches: Sept. 7 GORHAM, Sept. 16 @ Yarmouth, Sept. 27 @ Thornton Academy, Oct. 7 PORTLAND, Oct. 9 SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 14 THORNTON ACADEMY

Coach’s comment: “I expect us to break into playoffs this year and make a run for the title. We’ve been working hard on our mindset the last two years and I think everyone will notice that we are a very different team than has been seen in the past. We also lost six seniors last year which was a big hit to our program, but we are building and what we have coming up in the next few  years is worth keeping an eye on.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland had a strong season two years ago, but didn’t get to compete a year ago due to the pandemic. The Red Riots are hoping to surprise some teams in the weeks to come and have the pieces in place to do so.

This year’s squad is led by Clark, who plays middle; Friedland-Farley, the libero; and Thurston, an outside hitter. Newcomers to watch include sophomores Francesca Amoroso (a middle), Ruth Boles (a setter) and Ryan Hillier (an outside hitter).

South Portland isn’t listed as a favorite this season, but the Red Riots are confident that they’ll show a lot of improvement between now and the playoffs, when they might just pull off a surprise or two.

CROSS COUNTRY

Coaches:
(Boys) Dave Kahill (10th year)
(Girls) Matt Toothaker (first year)

2020 results: No state meet 
2019 results
:
(Boys) DNQ for Class A state meet (12th @ regionals)
(Girls) DNQ for Class A state meet (15th @ regionals)

Top returners:
(Boys) Brady Guay (senior), Jacob Ramos (senior), Kyle Hartford (junior), Harrison Jones (junior), Jack Nickerson (junior), Chase Porter (sophomore)
(Girls) Bella Carrier (senior), Audrey Pearson (senior), Anna Brown (junior), Lily Henriksen (junior), Eva Cooke (sophomore)

Coach Kahill’s comment: “We are hoping to build on momentum from last year to become one of the better teams in the conference. We lost only one of our top seven runners from last year and the team is incredibly passionate about cross country. The boys work hard, have fun, support each other, embrace challenges and love competition. We have a wonderful group of juniors and seniors and the team is excited to improve throughout the season and excel in the championship meets. ”

Coach Toothaker’s comment:  “We have a strong group of returners and new additions. These athletes have put in a lot of work over the summer and are all primed for a big season. They are hard working and have great team chemistry during practice. Our season-long goal is to continue improving and to reach our full potential as a team. ”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland’s cross country teams expect to be in the running this season.

The boys’ team will be led by Ramos, who was eighth at last year’s state qualifier. Other returning scorers from that meet include Guay (19th), Nickerson (27th), Jones (30th), Porter (43rd) and Hartford (44th). seniors Carson Blake, Lucas Lefebvre and Tom Wilson and junior Emmons Whited also have experience. A strong freshmen contingent of Fischer Petrlik, Evan Small and Sam Stocks arrives to provide depth. The Red Riots haven’t qualified for states since 2016, but that drought could end this season.

On the girls’ side, Toothaker replaces longtime coach Karen Reardon, who has retired. He takes over a squad that is on its way up. Cooke had a strong freshman campaign, placing 39th at the qualifier. Brown (42nd) and Carrier (43rd) also scored at that meet. Henriksen and Pearson are other veteran runners to watch. New senior Caitlin Rodrigue and sophomores Sam Hansen and Iris Young arrive to make the squad that much stronger. This team will show steady growth and if all goes well, could be in line for a trip to states.

GOLF

Coach: Tom Hyland (10th year)

2020 results: (DNQ for Class A state match)

Top returners: Alex Leupold (senior), Connor Corcoran (junior), Lucas Flaherty (junior), Ben Stanley (junior)

Coach’s comment: “We’re back at it and we are very excited to see how we stack up against our competition. We laid a solid, positive foundation last season and we intend to build upon that success this season. We return our top four players from last year. Our enthusiasm, fitness and attitudes are positive. Our energy is high and our expectations are realistic. We aim high to qualify as a team and qualify as many individuals as possible to play for state honors. We will work hard, bond as a team and be polite and respectful at all times.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland has some veteran leaders this year and has high hopes to succeed individually and as a team.

The Red Riots return Corcoran, Flaherty, Leupold and Stanley, who are looking to do big things. Camden Cloutier and Aidan Gorneau are new to the squad and hope to make a quick impact.

South Portland will be tested all season by a strong group of rivals, but look for this team to win some matches and perhaps make an impact on the state level as well.

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

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