(Ed. Note: For the complete Portland-Thornton Academy and Cheverus-York football and Cheverus-Windham girls’ soccer game stories, see our website at theforecaster.net/sports)

The 2023 fall sports season is underway and couldn’t have produced a more palpitating first few days.

There was great drama across the board and the fun is just beginning.

Here’s a look back at the initial action and a glimpse at what’s to come:


Portland quarterback Louis Thurston breaks away for an early touchdown in the Bulldogs’ upset victory at Thornton Academy Friday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/ Portland Press Herald

Last weekend, for the first time since Sept. 30-Oct. 1 of last year, Cheverus, Deering and Portland’s football teams were all victorious on the same weekend and it was the first time all three city squads won their season opener since 2015.


Portland’s victory was the most dramatic, as its return to Class A resulted in a last-minute, 35-28 victory at perennial powerhouse Thornton Academy. The Bulldogs, the reigning Class B South champion, appeared to set the tone when senior standout Reegan Buck returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but a penalty negated it. Undaunted, Portland drove the field for the game’s first score and took a 7-0 lead on a 30-yard touchdown scamper by junior quarterback Louis Thurston. After Thornton Academy pulled even on a kickoff return for a score, the Bulldogs went on top again, as junior Aidan McGowan scored on a 48-yard run. The Golden Trojans took a 21-14 lead at the half, but a fumble early in the third quarter turned momentum and two Buck touchdown runs, from 1-yard and from 10-yards out, allowed Portland to take a 28-21 advantage to the final stanza. There, Thornton Academy drew even, but with under a minute to go, the Bulldogs struck last, as Thurston hit Buck on a 31-yard scoring pass.

“We’ve been working on that play all week,” said Buck. “I just cut up the seam. It was scary the way the ball was floating there. Catching the ball on a straight line, you don’t have time to think, but that one was up there. I had to get my foot down too. I saw the ref running up and as soon as I saw (him signal touchdown), it was just pure excitement.”

The Golden Trojans drove into Portland territory, looking to tie, but a sack from junior Colin Kelly slammed the door and the Bulldogs were able to prevail, 35-28, and open the season in dreamlike fashion.

Portland beat Thornton Academy for the first time in 16 years and served notice that it might be new to Class A, but that it expects to make a deep run regardless.

“This was our game and we deserved it,” Kelly said. “People have been sleeping on us. We’ve been putting in the work all summer. We’re smart. We did it the right way.”

“We believe we will win every football game,” said Sean Green, the Bulldogs’ first-year coach. “We won’t think differently. Nobody picked us, but we thought we could do it. The only people that matter is us, our Portland football family. We’ll always be ready on Friday nights.”


The Bulldogs host Edward Little (0-1) Friday in their home opener.

“We lost some great players, but we have dudes everywhere,” Green said. “On the line, special teams, skill positions, the secondary. Hopefully, we’ll stay healthy and continue to spread the wealth.”

Deering which failed to win a game in 2021 and won just once a year ago, welcomed new coach Brendan Scully with a 17-7 victory at Marshwood. The Rams got two touchdown runs from Joey Foley (11-yards and 1-yard) and a 20-yard field goal from Christian Silva. Deering hopes to start to 2-0 for the first time since 2015 when it goes to 0-1 Mt. Blue Friday.

Cheverus’ Joe Osei looks for running room during Saturday’s home win over York. Osei ran for 211 yards and four touchdowns. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/ Portland Press Herald

Cheverus hosted York in its opener Saturday and the Stags ran wild, setting the tone by driving 68 yards on their opening possession and going ahead to stay, 6-0, on a 4-yard touchdown scamper by Joe Osei. Cheverus then marched 94 yards and went on top, 14-0, when Matt Baker scored on a 2-yard run and quarterback Gio St. Onge connected with captain Preston Fallon for the two-point conversion. York cut the deficit in half by halftime, but the Stags embarked on another long scoring drive to start the second half, culminated by an Osei 5-yard touchdown run. The Wildcats drew within 21-14 on a kickoff return for a score and got the ball back with a chance to pull even, but a fumble set Cheverus up at the York 20 and the Stags put the game away in the fourth period, as Osei scored on runs of 5- and 51-yards before Baker added one final TD, a 1-yard rush, to close out a 41-14 victory.

“Cheverus has always been a run-heavy team,” said Baker, who had 86 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. “All preseason into this week, we practiced hard and knew this is what we were going to do. It defines our program. We just run right up the gut and play hard.”

“I don’t think I’m the main guy, I’m part of a greater force,” said Osei, who rushed for 211 yards and four TDs on 28 attempts. “We didn’t pass a lot, we ran. We didn’t need to pass. We drove as a team. It was fun. The line is a bunch of hogs. They gave me amazing blocks. That made it way easier to get downfield. I love football. It’s my sport.”


The Stags gained more than 300 yards on the ground.

“Those guys (Osei and Baker) run hard,” Cheverus coach Mike Vance said. “They’re both strong ball carriers. They got a lot of yards after contact and took care of the football. They’re experienced. They’ve been around. It’s not their first rodeo. They have things in perspective.”

Cheverus looks to improve to 2-0 Saturday when it welcomes 0-1 Gorham.

“We try to take everything one day at a time,” Vance said. “We’re excited about our potential for growth. I don’t think we’re anywhere near as good as we’ll be later in the season. It’s going to take stacking one good day at a time and getting better and I think this group has an idea of how to be successful.”

Boys’ soccer

Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team, the four-time defending Class C state champion, welcomed new coach Will Burdick last week with a 3-0 victory at Traip Academy. Lucas Plum, Andrew Rogers and Nestor Verdi scored the goals. Saturday, the Flyers suffered a 3-1 setback at Hall-Dale, their first to a Class C foe in six years. Jacob Woodman scored the lone goal. Waynflete returns to action Tuesday of next week at Greely.


In Class A South, Deering and Portland both opened with ties.

The Rams rallied late to earn a 1-1 draw at Falmouth. Nick Simon scored the lone goal. Goalie Adao Lufumbo-Mbenza made five saves. Deering welcomed Cheverus Tuesday, goes to Westbrook Thursday and hosts Marshwood Tuesday of next week.

Portland also had to rally late to tie visiting Gorham, 1-1. Ronan Mas scored the goal. Calvin Hale made two saves. The Bulldogs were at Marshwood Tuesday, go to Noble Thursday and welcome Falmouth Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus started with a 4-1 loss at Marshwood. Michel Liwanga scored the goal and keeper Griffin MacLeod stopped four shots. The Stags sought their first win Tuesday at Deering. After hosting Thornton Academy Thursday, Cheverus welcomes Massabesic Tuesday of next week.

Girls’ soccer

Cheverus’ Rachel LaSalle boots a free kick in the first half of the Stags’ 2-0 home loss to Windham in last week’s season opener. Michael Hoffer / For The Forecaster

On the girls’ side, Waynflete, a regional finalist in 2022, is off to a fast start this fall. The Flyers started with a 2-1 home win over Traip Academy, then blanked visiting Hall-Dale (3-0). Against the Rangers, Lydia Birknes and Lucy Hart each scored once. Hart then had all three goals in the win over the Bulldogs. Waynflete returns to action Tuesday of next week at home versus Class B South contender Greely.


In Class A South, Cheverus started with a 2-0 home loss to Windham, falling behind early and only managing to put one shot on frame.

“It was a tough first game,” said longtime Stags coach Craig Roberts. “Windham’s good, but in our home opener, I was hoping for a better showing.”

Cheverus looks for its first victory Wednesday at South Portland. Friday, the Stags host Westbrook.

“We’ll get back at it,” said Roberts. “We have 13 more opportunities to fix what we need to fix and improve on what we’re already doing well.”

Deering started with a 3-1 loss at Bonny Eagle. Elsa Freeman scored the goal. Goalkeeper Sophie Hill made nine saves. The Rams welcome Gorham Wednesday and go to Massabesic Friday.

Portland also dropped a 3-1 decision in its first game, at home to Thornton Academy. Anneliese Collin scored the goal. The Bulldogs are at Marshwood Wednesday and visit Windham Saturday.


Field hockey

Cheverus goalie Ellie Skolnekovich makes a save on a penalty stroke during last week’s 5-0 season-opening home win over Biddeford. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Cheverus’ field hockey team opened its season with yet another dominant victory, pulling away to blank visiting Biddeford, 5-0, the Stags’ 33rd consecutive regular season win. Junior standout Lucy Johnson, arguably the state’s finest player, picked right up where she left off after scoring 49 goals last year, producing four against the Tigers. Zoey Radford also scored.

“It’s a really good feeling,” Johnson said. “It’s a good start for us, because now people get to see who we are as a new team, and not our team from last year or the year before that.”

“We give a hustle player out at the end of every game and it was one of those days where everyone was doing exactly what they needed,” Cheverus coach Theresa Arsenault said. “I thought our girls did a great job.”

The Stags are at Noble Thursday and have a showdown at Scarborough Monday (see our website for game story).

Portland/Deering opens its season at home versus Bonny Eagle Wednesday. After playing at South Portland Thursday, Portland/Deering visits Thornton Academy.


Waynflete returned to stand-alone varsity play for the first time since 2014, opening with a 1-0 home loss to Sacopee Valley. The Flyers are back in action Wednesday of next week at St. Dom’s.


Deering and Portland’s volleyball teams opened with victories last week.

The Rams beat South Portland in three sets (25-15, 25-21, 25-20), as Lara Gin had 15 kills and Shea Fenton finished with 29 assists. Deering hosts Gorham, a state finalist a year ago, Wednesday, then travels to Marshwood Friday before returning home to face Noble next Tuesday.

Portland started with a 3-0 home win over Bonny Eagle. After going to Massabesic Friday, the Bulldogs host Westbrook Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus was beaten, 3-0, by visiting Scarborough, one of the preseason favorites, in its first match. The Stags hope to get in the win column Wednesday at South Portland. After hosting Sanford Friday, Cheverus goes to Windham Monday.


Cross country

The cross country season began last week, as Portland hosted Cheverus, Kennebunk, Marshwood and Windham. The Bulldogs boys came in first as Nathan Blades had the top time, completing the course in 16 minutes, 3 seconds. Cheverus’ Ambrose McCullough came in seventh (17:42). The Stags were third as a team. In the girls’ meet, also won by Portland, Bulldogs standout Samantha Moore was first in a time of 18:51. Cheverus came in fourth and was paced by Allie Schmitt (sixth, 21:45).

Deering welcomed Massabesic, Scarborough and Thornton Academy. The Rams boys were second to the Red Storm, as Ellis Wood had the second-best time (17:29). In the girls’ meet, won by the Golden Trojans, Deering didn’t score as a team. Zabel Kasabian (24:59) posted the ninth-best time.

Waynflete’s girls were first in a five-team meet at Gray-New Gloucester. The Flyers were led by Skylar Harris, who was third individually in 24:51.28. Waynflete’s boys placed fourth. Pi Crosby (fifth, 18:59.0) was the top individual.


Cheverus opened the golf season with an 11-2 win over Portland. The Stags then lost, 12.5-0.5 to Scarborough.

Portland bounced back from its opening loss to Cheverus by edging South Portland, 7-6.

Deering started with losses to South Portland (8-5) and Falmouth (13-0).

Press Herald staff writer Drew Bonifant contributed to this story.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

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