BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Richie Ashley (first year)

2019-20 results: 4-15 (Lost, 61-46, to Deering in Class AA North quarterfinals)
2020-21 results
: 2-8 (no postseason, COVID)

Top returning player: Seth Huntington (Senior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 14 DEERING, Dec. 21 PORTLAND, Jan. 4 SCARBOROUGH, Jan. 6 @ Deering, Jan. 8 @ Portland, Jan. 25 @ Windham, Feb. 10 WINDHAM

Coach’s comment: “We’re building something, but it’ll take some time. We have some good pieces and the guys are working hard. The young kids have potential. We don’t have much size, but we’ll play hard and see where the chips fall. Class AA North is not easy. It’s a gauntlet. Good teams and great coaches. We want to be playing well at the end of the year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus welcomes a familiar face as its new coach this winter. Ashley helped Cheverus win a state title as a player, returned to his alma mater as Bob Brown’s assistant for three years, then, after assisting Tony DiBiase at South Portland, he took over the nascent Stags girls’ program in 2007 and over seven seasons, led it to 86 victories and a regional final trip in 2013. Ashley, who also teaches at Cheverus, replaces Ryan Soucie and looks to restore the Stags, who are five years removed from their last winning season, to their rightful place near the top of the standings, but it won’t happen overnight.

Cheverus returns just one player, Huntington, with much varsity experience. He’ll be a captain and should be one of the team’s top scorers from his guard position. Junior Silvano Ismail will run the point. Senior center Jackson Krieger and senior guard Anthony Cloutier will play key roles, while sophomore forward Gio St. Onge and freshmen guards Leo McNabb and Sammy Nzeyimana are poised to step right in and make noise at the varsity level.

It’s hard to quickly return to prominence when virtually every foe is more experienced and in Class AA North, that’s the daunting task that the Stags will face. Cheverus will be challenged by its lack of size and its youth, but you’ll see big strides between the start of the season and the end. Everyone makes the playoffs, so the Stags can concern themselves more with growth and improvement than wins and losses. Regardless of the final standings, Cheverus will be a difficult foe when the postseason arrives and going forward, it won’t be long until the Stags are back in the title hunt.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Maddie Fitzpatrick was a breakout star as a freshman. Now, as a sophomore, she’ll look to lead Cheverus’ girls’ basketball team to its first championship. File photo.

Coach: Billy Goodman (third year, 20-9 overall record)

2019-20 results: 11-8 (Lost, 49-44, to Windham in Class AA North quarterfinals)
2020-21 results
: 9-1 (no postseason, COVID)

Top returning players: Emily Bontatibus (Senior), Hayley Jordan (Senior), Maeve Kelly (Senior), Julia Kratzer (Senior), Lillie Singleton (Senior), Maddie Fitzpatrick (Sophomore), Emma Lizotte (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 10 BANGOR, Jan. 22 OXFORD HILLS, Jan. 25 WINDHAM, Feb. 2 @ Oxford Hills, Feb. 4 MASSABESIC, Feb. 10 @ Windham

Coach’s comment: “We’ve had a good preseason. Everyone is very happy to back. We gained confidence last year and that carried over to this summer and into the preseason. We play very good team basketball, move the ball nicely. It’s fun to watch. We’re looking to build depth. I’m really proud of the five seniors. They’ve worked hard and turned themselves into good players. We’re in a very tough division. We’re on everyone’s radar and we’ll have to play well against everyone we play.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus had a terrific season a year ago, losing its opener against powerhouse Portland, then upsetting Portland in a rematch before closing the abbreviated campaign with eight more victories, suggesting the Stags could have made a title run had COVID not cancelled the postseason.

Maeve Kelly is one of several returning seniors who will play a key role in Cheverus’ title quest this winter. File photo.

The best thing to come out of the 2020-21 campaign was Fitzpatrick, who burst on to the scene as one of the most talented freshmen to debut in several years, averaging 15 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists per game. This winter, she’ll be the focal point of the opposition, but will have the ball in her hands much of the time at point guard and she can distribute, drive to the basket and step back and made shots, so good luck defending that. Lizotte also enjoyed a terrific freshman campaign. She’ll be a force in the post. Cheverus has five seniors who have big-game experience in multiple sports and will all play key roles. Bontatibus is another strong post presence. Jordan (who was working her way back from injury at press time), Kelly, Kratzer and Singleton are quick guards who can help score and they also play strong defense, which is always a hallmark of Goodman-coached squads.

Cheverus is viewed as the favorite this year in many quarters, but nothing will come easily for the Stags, as Class AA is loaded, with the North (where Cheverus will compete in the tournament) especially deep. The Stags will stumble at times, but will earn valuable experience in the process. Watching Fitzpatrick on the big stage of the tournament will be a treat for local fans. Cheverus has never reached a state final, but this year’s squad has the pieces in place to do so and if they get there, don’t be surprised if the Stags bring home the Gold Ball.

BOYS’ HOCKEY (co-op with Yarmouth)

Wyatt Header looks to be doing his share of celebrating this winter. File photo.

Coach: Dave St. Pierre (11th year, 97-80-10 overall record)

2019-20 record:
Cheverus: 17-3 (Lost, 4-3, to Cape Elizabeth in Class B South semifinals)
Yarmouth: 10-9 (Lost, 5-0, to Cape Elizabeth in Class B South quarterfinals)
2020-21 record
: 5-5 (no postseason, COVID)

Top returning players: Kevin Connolly (Senior), Wyatt Header (Senior), Cam Miller (Senior), Zack Ridlon (Senior), Matt Robichaud (Senior), Ryan Franceschi (Junior), Truman Peters (Junior), Andrew Cheever (Sophomore), Brian Connolly (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 11 @ Greely, Dec. 15 @ Scarborough, Dec. 23 @ Brunswick, Jan. 1 @ Portland/Deering, Jan. 6 EDWARD LITTLE, Jan. 11 BRUNSWICK, Jan. 15 ST. DOM’S, Jan. 17 GREELY, Jan. 27 FALMOUTH, Jan. 29 @ Cape Elizabeth, Feb. 12 CAPE ELIZABETH, Feb. 22 YORK

Coach’s comment: “I’m very pleased so far. Our chemistry is really strong, which I’m excited about. We have an almost 50-50 split between Yarmouth and Cheverus kids this year. We want to keep coming along as a combined program. We expect to be in the hunt at the end with the other top teams. I think we’ll be a threat.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus/Yarmouth debuted as a co-op team a year ago and was competitive against some of the top teams in the area, but the squad didn’t get to measure itself in the postseason, which was canceled by COVID. This winter, Cheverus/Yarmouth boasts many terrific players from both schools and will give preseason favorites Cape Elizabeth and Greely all they can handle in Class B South.

Senior Kevin Connolly will be a top defender for the Cheverus/Yarmouth boys’ co-op squad. File photo.

Offensively, the squad will be led by Yarmouth’s Cheever, Peters and Robichaud and Cheverus’ Brian Connolly, Franceschi and Ridlon. The defense has talent and depth as well, as Kevin Connolly and Header return for Cheverus and are joined by Yarmouth’s Miller, as well as junior Ethan St. Pierre and sophomores Ian O’Connor and David Swift. Yarmouth junior Neil McQuarrie, a transfer from Portland High, will see the majority of time in goal. Yarmouth freshman Johnny Wallace will also get an opportunity.

Cheverus/Yarmouth won’t have it easy with a very challenging slate, but this squad looks to steadily improve and continue to make the most of players from both schools. Don’t be surprised if this is a very tough team to beat by the time the playoffs arrive.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

Senior Olivia Bradford is a top returning scoring threat for a powerhouse Cheverus girls’ hockey team. File photo.

Coach: Scott Rousseau (sixth year, 67-23-1 overall record, one state championship)

2019-20 results: 14-6 (Lost, 5-0, to Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete in South Region semifinals)
2020-21 results
: 7-3 (no postseason, COVID)

Top returning players: Olivia Bradford (Senior), Brynn McKenney (Senior), Lily Johnson (Sophomore), Ella Lemieux (Sophomore), Charlotte Miller (Sophomore), Mikayla Talbot (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 16 EL/LEAVITT/POLAND, Jan. 8 SCARBOROUGH, Jan. 15 @ EL/Leavitt/Poland, Jan. 17 @ Lewiston, Jan. 29 @ Cape/SP/Waynflete, Feb. 5 LEWISTON

Coach’s comment: “We are an extremely young team. Of the 12 players that skated in our first game, nine are sophomores or freshmen, but they’re talented and finished the COVID-shortened season on a six-game win streak to give the team a lot of confidence coming into the year. No one on the roster can replace the scoring that graduated with (Becky Schaffer Award winner) Lucia Pompeo, but we believe we have a lot of good forwards with potentially four or five that can score 10-12 goals. Team defense is still the calling card of this team, one that led the state in goals against last season. Brynn and Lily are All-State defensemen that will play big minutes this year. We are going to struggle early the year as we have four forwards out until January, but this team should improve and particularly when Talbot returns to the lineup, could be a very dangerous championship contender come February.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus, which also features players from Kennebunk, Old Orchard Beach and Windham, starts the season as a contender and could end it as the team to beat. The Stags have some injury issues to overcome, but the talent on this roster is undeniable. Cheverus opened with a 6-1 victory over Scarborough, then dropped a narrow 4-3 decision to Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland.

The loss of Pompeo, last year’s Winter Athlete of the Year and Schaffer Award winner, who is second all-time in program history for goals scored, will be felt, but Cheverus has enough firepower in reserve to remain tough to beat. Look for Bradford and Miller to lead the way on offense, with plenty of help from freshman Lucy Johnson, who was sensational during the Stags run to the field hockey state title. Talbot, who suffered a wrist injury during the preseason, will be back after the new year and will be another threat to give the opposition nightmares. Senior Emily Tucker and junior Elle Picard (a transfer from Mt. Ararat) are also due to return soon to aid the cause. After surrendering a state-lowest 11 goals in 10 games in 2020-21, Cheverus will be solid on the defensive end too, as Johnson and McKenney are All-State selections who have experience playing in big games. Like the departure of Pompeo, the loss of standout goalie Trinity Atwater poses problems, but the Stags are fortunate to have sophomore Ella Lemieux waiting in the wings. Lemieux saw limited action a year ago as a freshman when Atwater was injured. She’s poised to step right in between the pipes and star.

While Cheverus faces its share of challenges, the veterans know how to win and have won big games in multiple sports. The Stags will be pushed by Cape/South Portland/Waynflete and Scarborough in the region, but will take a backseat to no one. By February, look for this squad to be championship-worthy and if the puck bounces in its favor, a second crown in four years could be the end result.

INDOOR TRACK

Senior Frank Morang is back to excel in the hurdles, as well as other events, for Cheverus’ boys’ indoor track team this winter. File photo.

Coach: John Wilkinson (third year, one state championship)

2019-20 results: Boys 4th @ Class A state meet; Girls 3rd @ Class A state meet
2020-21 results
: No season (COVID)

Top returners:

(Boys) Andrew Griffiths (Seniors), Frank Morang (Senior)

(Girls) Sam Heinzman (Senior), Norah Slattery (Seniors), Maddie Hom (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “Our low numbers might catch some teams by surprise come state meet time. The boys are led by one of the best track athletes in the state in Frank Morang. He will be a candidate to be a triple winner at the Class A state meet. The long jump and triple jump are his best events, but he is also a top hurdler and sprinter. We have a few other athletes that can and should score valuable points. The girls have a small but hard-working squad this winter. We have a mix of returners and newcomers. The hope is to find everyone’s best event and make big improvements throughout the season. The goal is to have a lot of fun and encourage more athletes to join us this outdoor track season and/or next winter.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus is eager to return to action this winter and boasts some talented athletes.

The boys feature Morang, who was runner-up in both the high jump and long jump and placed fourth in the 55 hurdles at the 2020 Class A state meet. He’ll be a force in the hurdles, jumps and sprints this season. Griffiths is a veteran hurdler and sprinter. Newcomers of note include senior Jesse Cadigan (middle distance) and sophomore sprinters Jack Kingsley and Brendon Rogers.

On the girls’ side, after a period of dominance behind superstars Victoria Bossong and Emma Gallant, the Stags are hoping some new standouts emerge this year. Heinzman will compete in the distance, while Hom and Slattery have experience in the sprints. Junior Caolinn Durkin will be a threat in the sprints and middle distance events, while freshman Annie Vigue will look to score in the middle distance. On the field side, senior Leska Whitmarsh takes part in the pole vault.

SWIMMING

Coach: Olivia Pickering (first year)

2019-20 results:
(
Boys) Class A state champions (eighth in a row)
(Girls) 8th @ Class A state meet
2020-21 results
: No season (COVID)

Top returners:

(Boys) Wyatt England (Senior), Camden Hom (Senior), Michael Moseley (Senior)

(Girls) Cialy Charbonneau (Senior), Delilah Hastings (Senior), Bianca Cunningham (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “We’re really excited for this upcoming season. Over the past couple of years, we’ve graduated a lot of really talented swimmers. As with everyone else, COVID has affected our numbers. On our boys’ side, we have our seniors returning ready to compete and give it their all. On our girls’ side, we have some really strong swimmers. We may be small, but our girls are competitive and have some strong times and should not be overlooked. Our goal for the season is to get as many swimmers qualified as possible. We hope that COVID doesn’t get in the way of states or in-person meets. Our swimmers have amazing attitudes inside and outside of the pool and we are very excited to see how the season goes. ”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus has a new look this season as Pickering, a one-time swimmer for the Stags, takes over the program after dynasty builder Kevin Haley stepped down. She inherits a squad that is largely untested, but has a lot of promise.

The boys’ squad has dominated Class A swimming for a decade. This year’s team will lean on three swimmers who competed at the state meet two years ago, England (butterfly, breaststroke and individual medley), Hom (sprint freestyle) and Moseley (backstroke, distance freestyle). Sophomore Brady Hale also looks to make an impact in the IM and distance freestyle.

The girls’ team returns Hastings, who was sixth in the 100 backstroke and seventh in the 50 free at the 2020 Class A state meet. She’ll also swim the fly this year. Charbonneau (breaststroke) and Cunningham (backstroke, distance freestyle) also have experience. Add in senior Taylor Belanger (IM, breaststroke, fly), senior Julia Olsen (backstroke, distance freestyle), junior Sarah Agren (sprint freestyle and backstroke) and sophomore Reese Belanger (sprint freestyle, backstroke) and the pieces are in place for the Stags to do special things in the weeks to come.

ALPINE SKIING

Coach: John Stamaris (second year)

2019-20 results: Boys 14th @ Class A state meet; Girls 15th @ Class A state meet
2020-21 results
: No season (COVID)

Top returners:

(Boys) Aidan Fedirizzi (Senior), Jack Williams (Senior)

(Girls) Maddy Marcisso (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “We should have a few racers compete regularly for top five placements and postseason spots.  As a team, we strive to create an atmosphere of continuous improvement and positive support in a sport that is dominated by individual performance.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus’ Alpine team has some racers to keep an eye on this season.

The boys’ squad returns Fedirizzi (18th in the giant slalom and 38th in the slalom last year’s SMAA championship meet) and Williams (28th in the slalom and 31st in the GS). Freshman Reis Stamaris is a key addition, who could step right in and make an impact as well.

The girls’ team is led by Marcisso, who was third in the slalom and sixth in the GS at last year’s SMAA championship meet. She’s joined by promising freshman Agnes LaMontagne.

NORDIC SKIING (co-op with Deering and Portland)

Coach: George Aponte-Clarke (fourth year)

Top returners:

(Boys) Padraic Keane (Junior)

(Girls) Grace Turner (Senior), Leska Whitmarsh (Senior), Annabelle Brooks (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “These hard-working and committed skiers have  built a wonderful community together, which shows every time they hit the trail. The coaches are very excited for the season ahead, especially with such an amazing and fun group of student-athletes.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus is eager to return to the trails this winter and boasts some very talented skiers.

The girls are led by veterans Brooks, Turner and Whitmarsh. Junior Aysel Hamlin and sophomore Delaney Whitmarsh add depth. This is a squad that could make noise in February.

On the boys’ side, Keane returns. Freshman Logan Whitmarsh looks to make an immediate impact as well.

WRESTLING

Coach: Jason Barriault (ninth year)

2019-20 results: 9th @ Class A state meet
2020-21 results
: No season (COVID)

Top returners: Marshall Fowler (Senior), Sebastian Merrill (Senior)

Coach’s comment: “After losing a year to COVID, our program has re-emerged with a lot of new faces that have no wrestling experience. We are lucky that we return two seniors who made the state podium as sophomores to provide strong leadership. We have a few other upperclassmen that will be in the starting lineup and our new athletes will fill the holes. If we can get everyone in the right weight class, I think that we will have a solid lineup come January. This is an extremely athletic and high-character group of kids that have massive potential and will be a strong core to keep the momentum of the program moving forward. The main goal this year is to get our seniors ready for the postseason so that they can finish their high school careers accomplishing all of their goals, while at the same time, building a strong base of knowledge and skill for our new athletes to build on in the coming years.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After a year with no competition, Cheverus’ wrestling team is eager to return to action this winter and the Stags boast some individuals who could turn heads.

Fowler (160 pounds) and Merrill (195) are seasoned veterans who will lead the way. Junior Rilan Smith, last seen helping Cheverus’ football team win an eight-man state title last month, joins the team and will wrestle at 138 pounds. Freshman Jack Fowler (152) is another key addition.

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

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