By Michael Hoffer
Another year is over, but it won’t soon be forgotten.
Not if you’re a fan of local high school sports.
The one thread that held us together from winter to spring, spring into summer, summer through fall, and now back to winter again, was the transcendent play of local athletes and teams.
Games were won in scintillating fashion, titles were secured, and thrills were produced.
Before we embark on a new year of excitement, let’s turn the clock back one final time to the wonder and magic that was 2008.
Winter sports were just heating up.
On the hardwood, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland’s boys’ teams were all playing well and were playoff bound.
On the girls’ side, South Portland and Scarborough were top contenders in Western A.
Hockey news was positive and area track, skiing, wrestling and swimming teams were providing their share of highlights.
February vacation week brought non-stop action to the local sports scene. Area athletes impressed at the track, wrestling, skiing and swimming state meets.
Scarborough’s girls won the Class A indoor track championship. Catie Funk was tops in the shot put. Cape Elizabeth’s Matt Rand won the two-mile at the Class B meet.
In the pool, Cape Elizabeth’s boys tied for second at the Class A state meet. The Scarborough girls were also runners-up. Cape Elizabeth’s Nora Daly (500 free), Scarborough’s Nicole Harmon (100 fly) and South Portland’s Curry Girr (diving) won Class A individual titles.
On the trails, Cape Elizabeth’s Emily Attwood won two events at the Class B Nordic state championship meet. The Capers came in second as a team, finishing a mere one point behind Yarmouth.
Cape Elizabeth’s Nate Lavallee won a state crown in wrestling.
Attention then turned to the basketball tournaments.
Scarborough’s boys lost to Biddeford in the preliminary round. The South Portland boys capped their special season by enjoying a run to the Western A semifinals, where they finally were vanquished by Thornton Academy. That left Cape Elizabeth. The Capers would win their first regional title in 20 seasons, downing Wells, Greely and Freeport, but the team’s championship dreams were denied by Maranacook on the 29th.
On the girls’ side, Scarborough enjoyed its finest season since moving up to Class A, but the Red Storm were eliminated by Westbrook in the quarterfinals. South Portland made it to the semis before losing on a buzzer-beater to Noble.
In hockey, South Portland qualified for the playoffs, but lost to Lake Region/Fryeburg in the Western A preliminary round. Scarborough went just 6-14 in the regular season, but came to life in the playoffs, beating Thornton Academy and Bonny Eagle to earn a semifinal round date with undefeated defending state champion Biddeford.
On the girls’ side, Scarborough continued its perfect season by beating Fryeburg and Gorham in the playoffs to set up a Tier II final date with Falmouth.
The hockey season ended amid great fanfare.
On the 3rd, Scarborough’s boys’ run ended with a loss to Biddeford in the semifinals. That same night, Cape Elizabeth was ousted by Greely in the Western B semifinals.
On the 5th, Scarborough capped its magical 19-0 run with a 2-0 victory over Falmouth to win the Tier II championship.
SUBHEAD-April and May
The best news of the spring sports season was that the weather was more cooperative than usual.
On the diamond, all three local teams played well and earned playoff berths.
In softball, defending Class A champ Scarborough, defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth and powerhouse South Portland continued to be three of the best teams in the state and all three entered the postseason with legitimate title hopes.
Lacrosse once again produced some great stories. The boys played a tiered schedule which produced no shortage of memorable games. Scarborough overcame a slow start to become a top Western A contender. Cape Elizabeth was its usual strong self. On the girls’ side, Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough both enjoyed solid regular seasons and earned trips to the playoffs.
Area track stars prepared to make a run (leap and throw) at state championships.
Local tennis teams were among the best and looked to make noise in the playoffs. Scarborough senior Camille Jania cruised to the individual girls’ championship, beating Waynflete’s Christine Ordway in a highly anticipated state final.
June featured plenty of drama and glory.
On the 7th, at the state track meets, Scarborough’s girls won the Class A team title. Scarborough’s Sam Chick won the 800 at the boys’ meet.
All six local tennis teams made the playoffs. The Cape Elizabeth girls and Scarborough boys got as far as the regional final.
In lacrosse, the biggest story was the Scarborough boys’ team, which rallied to beat Brunswick in the Class A final, earning its second championship in three seasons. Cape Elizabeth (after a two year absence) returned to the state game, but lost to Yarmouth in the Class B final.
On the girls’ side, Cape Elizabeth lost to eventual champion Waynflete in the Western B semifinals. Scarborough got back to the regional final and for a second successive year fell just short, losing to Kennebunk in overtime.
In baseball, Scarborough was ousted in the preliminary round. South Portland made it to the quarterfinals before losing to eventual Class A champion Deering. Cape Elizabeth then shocked the Western B world by rising from the No. 9 seed to win the regional title. The Capers’ championship hopes were denied by Gardiner on the 21st, but it was a run for the ages.
In softball, Cape Elizabeth’s quest to repeat as Class B champion was denied by Hannah Hill and Fryeburg in a 1-0 loss in the regional final. In Western A, Scarborough edged South Portland in the semifinals, but the Red Storm’s repeat hopes were ended by Biddeford in the regional final, as the Tigers handed Scarborough its first loss since 2006.
SUBHEAD-July and August
High schoolers took a backseat, but there were plenty of diversions for local sports fans. Little League and American Legion players strutted their stuff. Many local runners made their mark in the Beach to Beacon in early August. A couple weeks later, high school athletes reported to fall practice and it was time to do it all over again.
Fall brought football, soccer, field hockey, cross country, golf and volleyball to the forefront again.
On the pitch, players from Forecaster Country dazzled. The Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland boys played at a top level, while the same schools’ girls’ squads also impressed.
In field hockey, Scarborough again emerged as a top team in its class, even though a loss at rival and nemesis Sanford on the 20th served as a momentary derailment. Cape Elizabeth was competitive in Western B.
On the gridiron, Cape Elizabeth rolled through its early games. Scarborough was much improved and South Portland was feisty, but had a hard time earning a victory.
On the trails, some of the best runners in the state represented local schools.
Golfers impressed, but none of the three local teams were able to qualify for states.
Scarborough’s volleyball team remained a contender while first-year Cape Elizabeth earned its initial varsity victory on the 22nd.
On the 25th, Scarborough’s girls’ cross country team took the Western A regional title, but the boys fell a point shy to Cheverus. The Cape Elizabeth girls continued their dominance, while the boys also qualified for states.
The biggest football news came Halloween Night when Cape Elizabeth went to Mountain Valley and lost 34-6. It was the Capers’ first setback and relegated them to the No. 2 spot for the Western B playoffs. Scarborough and South Portland had their moments, but failed to qualify for the postseason.
The soccer playoffs brought promise. Scarborough’s undefeated boys earned the top seed in Western A and easily beat Gorham in the quarterfinals. Cape Elizabeth squeaked past Bonny Eagle in the preliminary round, then beat Thornton Academy to set up a semifinal showdown with Scarborough. South Portland enjoyed its first winning season since 2000, but fell at powerhouse Greely in the preliminary round.
In girls’ action, South Portland won a prelim at Thornton Academy, then lost to Portland in the quarterfinals. Cape Elizabeth upset Scarborough for the second time in four seasons in the preliminary round, then lost at Greely in the quarterfinals.
In field hockey, Scarborough stole the show, winning its first regional championship. The Red Storm got a battle from Biddeford, Gorham and Westbrook, but survived to set up a state final date with seven-time champion Skowhegan.
In Western B, Cape Elizabeth was eliminated by Lake Region in the preliminary round.
In volleyball, Scarborough got to the Western A quarterfinals, but suffered an agonizing five-game loss to Gorham.
A month of high drama and triumph began on the 1st when three local teams won cross country state championships. Scarborough swept Class A and Cape Elizabeth capped one of the most dominant girls’ seasons on record with a Class B crown.
At Hampden Academy, Scarborough’s field hockey team did everything but win the Class A championship as the Red Storm dominated Skowhegan for much of the afternoon, but ultimately fell in sudden-death overtime.
That night, Scarborough’s boys’ soccer team edged Cape Elizabeth in the Western A semifinals. After beating nemesis Greely in the regional final on the 5th, the Red Storm capped their perfect season in golden fashion on the 8th, when senior Ian Philbrick scored in overtime to give the Red Storm a 1-0 victory over Bangor.
A week later, Cape Elizabeth football saw its season end in a most familiar of locales, Rumford, but the Capers did battle eventual Class B champ Mountain Valley to the finish in a compelling regional final.
Winter is back (big-time) and we’re doing it all over again. Many of the storylines are similar.
In boys’ basketball, South Portland, behind junior standouts Keegan Hyland and Matt Lee, have yet to lose in league play. Scarborough is in the Western A mix as well. Cape Elizabeth has two close losses on its resume, but remains a favorite in Western B.
The biggest story on the girls’ side, is the resurgence of Cape Elizabeth, which already has three wins to its credit, one year after earning just one victory. Scarborough and South Portland appear to be top teams in Western A.
On the ice, South Portland has yet to lose, while Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough both appear to be very strong. The Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough girls look to be in thick of things as well in the first year of MPA-sanctioned play.
Swimming and wrestling have provided early, positive notes for local schools and the track and ski seasons are set to get under way.
So, goodbye to 2008. Your thrills won’t soon be forgotten. It’s time to say hello to 2009 and eagerly anticipate the drama which awaits.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com