Senior Pitia Donato will make life miserable for the opposition in the weeks to come as he and his Portland teammates figure to be near the top of Class AA North. File photos.

Coach: Joe Russo (33rd year, 447-187 overall record, five state championships)

2021-22 record: 11-8 (Lost, 44-42, to Cheverus in Class AA North quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Kennedy Charles (Senior), Pitia Donato (Senior), Brady Toher (Senior), Pepito Girumugisha (Junior), Jeissey Khamis (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 13 BONNY EAGLE, Dec. 16 HAMPDEN ACADEMY, Dec. 20 @ Cheverus, Dec. 22 DEERING, Dec. 30 @ Edward Little, Jan. 3 OXFORD HILLS, Jan. 7 CHEVERUS, Jan. 10 @ Thornton Academy, Jan. 13 @ Oxford Hills, Jan. 20 @ Falmouth, Jan. 31 EDWARD LITTLE, Feb. 7 @ Deering, Feb. 9 SOUTH PORTLAND

Coach’s comment: “The dress rehearsal is over and we’re ready for the regular season. I’m enjoying the guys for a lot of reasons. They’re very coachable. I love our versatility and we have a lot of speed. We can go up-tempo or slow it down and go big. Oxford Hills is the favorite, then 2 through 9 is even in the North. We just want to be healthy and have the wrinkles out by playoffs. We can contend with anyone. We just want to make the tournament and then anything can happen.


The Forecaster’s forecast: Portland enjoyed a bounce-back season a year ago, but it ended on a sour note when the Bulldogs lost at home to Cheverus on an improbable buzzer-beater in the quarterfinals. While standout Wani Donato and all-star honorable mention Spencer Cross have graduated, Portland is primed to be very good this season and could find itself one of the last teams standing in a Class AA North that’s as deep and balanced as ever.

Senior Brady Toher is a tenacious defender and point guard who won’t back down from anyone.

Pitia Donato (7.2 points per game last season) is a top returner and a captain. He’ll score points inside and out. Toher is also a captain. He’ll play point guard and look to distribute to his talented teammates. Khamis (6.4 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game) made the SMAA All-Rookie team last winter. He’ll make an impact in the post and can also score. Girumugisha, a guard, could be in for a big season. He can knock down shots from the outside. Charles’ exploits during the football season were well documented, as he led Portland to the state final. He was limited last winter by illness and injury, but will play a key role this season as a leader and at his guard position. The X-factor is senior Remijo Wani, the Deering transfer who was a second-team all-star last season after averaging 18 points and 7.3 rebounds. Wani has the skills that can push the Bulldogs over the top, but he’s recovering from a knee injury suffered during football season and likely won’t be available until after the holidays. Other players to watch include senior captain Sam Esposito, who will mix it up inside, sophomore forward Drew Veilleux, who is a top shooter, sophomore center Devin Walker and junior guards Eddie Antonio, James Johnson and Kevin Rugabirwa.

Portland will be fascinating to watch as Russo and his staff (which includes former Deering and Westbrook coach Dan LeGage) put the pieces in the place to make a deep run. It will take some time for the Bulldogs to hit their stride, but once they do, look out.


Senior Eliza Stein will pace the Portland offense this winter.

Coach: Abby Hasson (third year, 13-17 overall)

Top returning players: Annie Pozzy (Senior), Eliza Stein (Senior)


Pivotal games: Dec. 16 @ Hampden Academy, Dec. 20 @ Cheverus, Dec. 22 @ Deering, Jan. 3 @ Oxford Hills, Jan. 7 CHEVERUS, Jan. 10 THORNTON ACADEMY, Jan. 13 OXFORD HILLS, Jan. 20 FALMOUTH, Jan. 27 BANGOR, Feb. 7 DEERING, Feb. 9 @ South Portland

Coach’s comment: “We’re trying to figure out how we’re going to play and who we’re going to be. We’re still very young. We lost a lot from last year, but we’ll work with what we’ve got. We’ll rotate in a lot of players and find five who work. We want to get better each week and keep pushing the program in the direction we want to go. We hope to finish middle-of-the-pack and get a playoff spot.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Portland came back to the pack last winter, but still made the playoffs. The Bulldogs then had to part with standout Elizabeth Yugu, post presence Naulissa Tuza and some other role players. The cupboard isn’t bare, but there’s work to do for Portland to contend this winter. The Bulldogs got off to a promising start Thursday with a 44-35 home win over Lewiston.

Junior Ainsley McCrum is another key returner for the Bulldogs.

Pozzy and Stein are the veterans. Stein can bury shots from anywhere inside the midcourt stripe (just ask South Portland) and will be a top guard (she had a team-high 10 points in the opener). Pozzy can play guard or forward. Sophomore Baleria Yugu takes over at point guard. She’s fast, athletic and can get to the rim. Junior Ainsley McCrum will mix it up in the post. Junior Lucy Tidd can play guard or forward. A couple of freshmen, Solera Bailey and Lili McCullum, look to step right in and make an impact.

The Bulldogs know that competing with the likes of defending champion Cheverus, runner-up Oxford Hills and Bangor will be a challenge, but they should be able to hold their own against most of the other teams on the schedule. If this group shows steady improvement, Portland could exceed last year’s win total and will find itself in the postseason once again.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY (co-op with Deering)

Sophomore Jane Flynn is a top goal-scoring threat for the Portland/Deering girls.

Coach: Dan Winship (first year)


2021-22 record: 2-16 (Lost, 8-2, to Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland in South Region quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Samantha Desjardins (Senior), Lauren Gerber (Senior), Kate Martell (Senior), Jane Flynn (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 10 CHEVERUS, Dec. 21 YORK, Jan. 16 @ Yarmouth, Jan. 24 @ York, Feb. 2 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach’s comment: “We hope to improve across the board from last season. Our focus will be on playing smart, forcing turnovers and applying pressure in our offensive zone. We have good numbers in our program. In my first season as coach, I hope to continue to keep our program strong with a large number of players getting opportunities. We have a lot to work with and look to get stronger as the season progresses.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: The Portland/Deering co-op team welcomes a new coach this winter, as Winship replaces Tom Clifford. The squad started with losses to defending state champion Lewiston (5-1), Biddeford (7-4) ad Brunswick (12-3), but hopes to show steady improvement as the season progresses.

Flynn, a regional all-star last year, is a defender, but she figures to pace the offense this season. She scored a hat trick in the second game. Gerber (forward) and Martell (center) have also put the puck in the net. Juniors Sloane Fox and Phoebe Knoll and Deering freshman Nora Bryant are other forwards to watch. Defensively, Desjardins returns. She’s joined by junior CeCe Blackwell-Moore. Erin Winship takes over in goal. She made 25 saves in the opener.


Portland/Deering will be able to compete in most of its games and the wins will come. Look for this squad to make a return trip to the playoffs if everything comes together.


Sophomore Samantha Moore is back as one of the state’s elite girls’ distance runners.

Boys’ coach: Mony Hang (second year)
Girls’ coach: Frank Myatt (second year)

2021-22 results: Boys’ 14th @ Class A state meet; Girls’ 14th @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Andrew Brewer (Senior), Charlie Brewer (Senior), Benjamin Littel (Senior), Morris Tifiano (Senior), Nathan Blades (Junior), Reegan Buck (Junior), Myles Hang (Junior), Jason Hargesheimer (Junior), Benjamin Prestes (Junior), Barrett Chalmers (Sophomore), Charles Jacques (Sophomore), Alex Kimble (Sophomore)


(Girls) Ruby Jenkins-Henry (Junior), Ava Chadbourne (Sophomore), Anneliese Collin (Sophomore), Samantha Moore (Sophomore), Evie Pysher (Sophomore)

Coach Hang’s comment: “This is going to be an exciting season for the Bulldogs. The team is young, but we have a very talented roster. A lot of names on this roster are predicted to have a breakout season. I see us performing well at the state meet.”

Coach Myatt’s comment: “We’re heading in the right direction. We’re extremely Junior division-heavy. We have good talent and depth. We have a top three distance core in the league. I expect we’ll do well at Southwesterns.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Portland’s indoor track program is poised to surge up the standings this winter.

The boys’ team is led by Blades, a distance standout, who placed fourth in the 800 last season and is poised for an even better showing this time around. Hargesheimer and Prestes teamed with Blades on a runner-up 4×800 relay team and they, along with Charlie Brewer and Jacques, provide depth in the longer races. The sprinting contingent features two football running backs, Buck and Andrew Brewer, as well as Kimble and Tifiano. Chalmers  and Hang will be top hurdlers. Buck, Hang and Tifiano also compete in the jumps. Hang and Littel are top throwers. The program is also bolstered by an abundance of new additions. That group includes senior Aiden Wood (pole vault), juniors Elias Coleman (distance), Logan Watson (sprints), Asa Winter (middle-distance) and Nathaniel Wyman (distance), sophomore Xavier Bradford (sprints) and freshmen Liam Alexander (sprints), Owen Blades (hurdles, jumps), Amos Geist (sprints), Erik Harmon (middle-distance), Jacob Harmon (middle-distance), Isaac Johnson (sprints), Joseph Mancini (sprints), Vladan Napijalo (hurdles, jumps) and Mariano Prado (jumps, sprints).

On the girls’ side, the Bulldogs are building something special, but they’re still a year or two away from making serious noise at the state level. Portland returns Fall Athlete of the Year Moore, who was fourth in the two-mile last season. She’s joined in the distance events by Chadbourne, sophomore Maia Endicott and freshmen Alice Anderson and Elle Vinkemulder. Jenkins-Henry will run middle-distance and take part in the jumps. Pysher is a top sprinter. Collin can compete in anything (she won the junior 55 hurdles, junior high jump and junior 400 in a season-opening meet). Other newcomers to watch include junior jumper Emily Paton, sophomore Alisandra Lindos (sprints and jumps) and freshman sprinter Egypt Beverage.



Coach: Sarah Rasmussen (fifth year)

2021-22 results: Boys’ 5th @ Class A state meet; Girls’ 5th @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Girls) Sophia Harrod-Kim (Sophomore), Anya Heiden (Sophomore), Anica Spencer (Sophomore), Kaia West (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We have a young team this year and have been really impressed with the new leadership stepping up in big ways. We are looking forward to building great team cohesion and using that as a great asset to building a strong team.”


The Forecaster’s forecast: The Deering/Portland co-op swim team has a young core and should show steady improvement as the season progresses.

The girls’ squad features West, who was part of a fourth-place 400 freestyle relay team last winter. West will be a top freestyler this season. Harrod-Kim (breaststroke and butterfly), Heiden (freestyle and backstroke) and Spencer (freestyle, breaststroke and individual medley) can swim multiple events.

The boys’ squad will be paced by freshman freestyler Andy Marvin.


Coach: George Aponte-Clarke (fifth year)

2021-22 results: Boys’ 2nd @ Class A state meet; Girls’ 8th @ Class A state meet


Top returners:

(Boys) Jasper McCarroll-Christmas (Senior), Daniel Niles (Senior), Jack Watson (Senior), George Ayer (Junior), Alex Price (Sophomore)

(Girls) Tenley Flint (Senior), Greta Holmes (Senior), Molly Neuner (Senior)

Coach’s comment: “The boys have some great new additions that should round out a strong team aiming to reach the podium at states once again. The girls are a small but supportive group ready to rise up this season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Both Portland teams continued their long tradition of success last winter and are back for more.

Niles was seventh in the classic last season and will make a run at the top spot this time around. Ayer, McCarroll-Christmas, Price and Watson round out a solid squad.


On the girls’ side, Flint is the top returner. She placed 20th in the freestyle a year ago. Holmes and Neuner are other veterans to watch.


Coach: Ted Banks (first year)

2021-22 results: No score @ Class A state meet

Top returner: Daniel Bengi (Senior), Marlaco Bethune (Senior), Josiah Matias (Senior), Finn O’Donnell (Senior), Cherif Rouamba (Senior), JJ Stoops (Sophomore), Silas Waskiewicz (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Winning is a clear goal. We’re going to try to win a state title every single year and this year is no different, but it is not our purpose. Wrestling is fun and we’re going to have a lot of fun this season. Along the way we’re going to learn how to take a step closer to our goal every day, learn how to win and lose with dignity and do difficult and challenging things on a regular basis. I don’t know where the season will take us, so why not try to win it all?”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After longtime coach Tony Napolitano retired, Portland has high hopes this winter under its new coach and there are some promising wrestlers to watch.

Bengi (126 pounds), O’Donnell (182) and Rouamba (152) are the captains. Bethune (285) and Matias (170) also have experience. Stoops and Waskiewicz hope to make a bigger impact as sophomores. Sophomore Hector Luvueso (132) and freshmen Quinn Coull (285), Josh Cyr (285) and Gage Nisbet (138) hope to step right in and make an impact.

The Bulldogs will begin working their way up the ladder this winter and big things are in store for the program looking ahead.

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

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