Cheverus Stags Fall Athletes of the Year

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MALE:

JACK CASALE, Senior-Football

Casale helped Cheverus reinvent its offense this season and become a team which gave several top contenders fits.

Casale grew up in Portland and started playing football in the fourth grade. He quickly gravitated to the quarterback position, while also playing safety on defense.

“I like having the freedom to make audibles,” Casale said. “I like the physicality and brotherhood of football.”

Casale made the Cheverus varsity as a sophomore, but saw limited time. As a junior, he served as the backup quarterback and played wide receiver, but this fall, he was the field general and helped the Stags enter a new era after legendary coach John Wolfgram retired.

Under new coach Mike Vance, Cheverus remained competitive and Casale’s accuracy and leadership were big reasons why. For the season, Casale completed 41 of 78 passes for 834 yards (fourth in Class A North )and 11 touchdowns (third in the region) with just five interceptions. He also ran for 46 yards and three scores and made 33.5 tackles, intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble on defense. If that wasn’t enough, he made his lone extra point attempt as well.

In a 28-20 win at Lewiston, one week after a humbling 65-0 home loss to two-time defending Class A champion Thornton Academy, Casale went 5-of-9 for 106 yards and two touchdown passes to his cousin, Dominic Casale. Casale threw for over 200 yards and a pair of long TD passes, 63 yards to Griffin Watson and 97 yards to Dominic Casale, in a 17-14 victory at Edward Little. He threw two early touchdowns to put a scare into eventual regional champion Portland, but the Bulldogs rallied to win, 35-27, despite Casale’s 9-of-17 passing for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Casale threw for 101 yards and two TDs in a win over Bangor, fired two scores in a loss at Scarborough and threw for 104 yards and one TD in a one-point, regular season-ending setback to Windham.

In the playoffs, Casale had two TD runs in a quarterfinal round victory over Lewiston. The Stags then dropped a heartbreaker at Windham in the semifinals.

“I think we exceeded expectations,” Casale said. “We stayed together and we were prepared. The guys trusted me. We turned into a strong offense. It was fun slinging the ball around.”

Casale also plays basketball and baseball and credits playing multiple sports for his success.

“I think multiple sports have helped me because I’m never out of shape,” Casale said. “I love all the sports seasons. I have a drive to do well. (My older brother) Ryan (Casale, a former Cheverus standout) set a standard that I tried to meet.”

Casale, who also took part in the Pink Ribbon breast cancer fundraiser at Cheverus, plays to play either basketball or baseball in college (or possibly both).

His time on the gridiron might have come to an end, but Jack Casale, Cheverus’ Fall Male Athlete of the Year, bowed out with a master performance, playing a key role in keeping one of the state’s storied programs in contention.

Coach Mike Vance’s comment: “Jack was a playmaker who had natural instincts, uncanny hand-eye coordination and great arm strength. He was smart and confident and his teammates believed in him.”

Prior winners:

2015 Jake Tomkinson (soccer)

2014 Joe Fitzpatrick (football)

2013 Joe Fitzpatrick (football)

2012 Donald Goodrich (football)

2011 Elliot Maker (soccer)

2010 Peter Gwilym (football)

2009 Peter Gwilym (football)

2008 Jack Terwilliger (cross country)

2007 Galen Munroe (soccer)

2006 Andrew Pochebit (football)

2005 Anthony Ardito (golf)

2004 Max Molleo (soccer)

FEMALE:

HANNAH ABBOTT, Junior-Field hockey

  • All-state

  • SMAA All-Star, first team

  • Captain

Abbott has become one of the finest field hockey players in the state, her excellence helped the Stags to a better-than-expected season and her best days are still to come.

Abbott grew up in Portland playing soccer until the seventh grade when she met former Cheverus field hockey coach Amy McMullin Ashley and decided to make the switch.

“Field hockey was a new challenge, which I loved,” Abbott said. “You have to be a smart player to succeed.”

Abbott burst on to the scene as a freshman, seeing big minutes and showing a knack for scoring key goals, a phenomenon which continued her sophomore season.

This fall, the Stags were an unknown entity as Ashley left to take over the Yarmouth program and there were few expectations, but thanks in large part to 14 goals from Abbott, Cheverus, under new coach Sally Cloutier, won 11 games and got to the Class A South quarterfinals.

Highlights included two goals in a season opening victory over Westbrook, another goal in a win over Windham, a goal in a loss to Thornton Academy, three goals versus Noble, another in a win over Portland, a goal in a critical victory over Massabesic and another hat trick versus Deering.

Abbott scored twice more in a preliminary round playoff victory over South Portland before the Stags lost at Marshwood in the quarterfinals.

“We had so much fun this year from day one,” Abbott said. “We were always laughing. We jelled so well with a new coach.”

Abbott has been inspired by her grandfather, former University of Maine football coach, Walter Abbott, and credits her many coaches in high school and with the Coastal Premier team for her success.

Abbott is also a top track athlete, competing in the sprints and the shot put, and belongs to Cheverus’ Key Club. She wants to play field hockey in college and is in the process of choosing a school.

Rest assured, there will be no shortage of schools that would love to have her. Hannah Abbott, Cheverus’ Fall Female Athlete of the Year, has shown the ability to excel and best of all for the Stags, they get to enjoy her excellence for one more season.

Coach Sally Cloutier’s comment: “Hannah was a force both offensively and defensively. Hannah was key to the success of the team, especially in a building year. She’s mentally and physically tough, takes her play seriously and expects the same of her teammates. Hannah is a playmaker, smart with the ball, fast and explosive, as well as poised defensively. We looked to her in many tight and difficult games. She will be a force again next season.”

Prior winners:

2015 Becca Archer (field hockey)

2014 Abby Goodrich (soccer)

2013 Elyse Caiazzo (field hockey)

2012 Staci Swallow (field hockey)

2011 Sarah LaQuerre (field hockey)

2010 Emily Sawchuck (field hockey)

2009 Emily Durgin (cross country)

2008 Bethany Schleh (field hockey)

2007 Elizabeth Somma (soccer)

2006 Elise Roux (soccer)

2005 Meaghan Mingo (soccer)

2004 Lauren Metevier (soccer)

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

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.