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Not only is Cheverus a great place to watch an event, the school’s teams are primed for a very competitive fall season. Again. Football fell three points shy of a state title last year and won’t settle for anything shy of a Gold Ball this time around. Boys’ soccer has a new coach and the ingredients to compete. The girls’ team looks to get back to the postseason and make a deeper run. Field hockey has parted with some standouts, but can’t be overlooked. Both cross country teams feature top-notch talent. Golf welcomes a new coach and should be one of the stronger teams in the league. Volleyball is coming off its first playoff berth and should be in the mix once more.
COACH: John Wolfgram (ninth year, 62-20 overall record, two state championships)
2013 record: 10-1 (Lost, 31-28, to Bonny Eagle in Class A Final)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Matt Drouin (Senior), Joe Fitzpatrick (Senior), Zach Handley (Senior), Zordan Holman (Senior), Patrick Mourmouras (Senior), Dan O’Brion (Senior), Matt O’Leary (Senior), Frank Curran (Junior), Justin Johnson (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 6 PORTLAND, Sept. 12 @ Lewiston, Sept. 27 WINDHAM, Oct. 11 @ TA, Oct. 18 BANGOR, Oct. 25 DEERING
COACH’S COMMENT: “We’ve laid a pretty good foundation. We’re young, but we have strong character. We have to rebuild our offensive line, but we have good experience on the defensive line. We’d love to get back to the top. We have to stay healthy. If we do, we’ll be very competitive.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Much was made (and rightly so) of Cheverus’ state-record 34 game win streak from 2010 to 2012, but the Stags are quietly in the midst of another impressive run, albeit not quite as triumphant, since it doesn’t include championships. Entering the 2014 campaign, Cheverus has won 33 consecutive regular season games (dating to a 24-21 overtime loss at Bonny Eagle Oct. 16, 2009), 16 of which have come at home (the last regular season home loss was a 40-6 setback to Deering on Oct. 25, 2008). The past two seasons have been perfect into November, but each year, the Stags dropped agonizing decisions on the cusp of glory. Nothing was more painful than last year, when Cheverus just needed one defensive stop to clinch the Class A state title, but it couldn’t halt Bonny Eagle when it mattered most and one of the most memorable state games of recent vintage ended in heartbreak. The Stags will look to turn that disappointment into hunger this fall and while there are some holes to fill, they have to be viewed as a team that can not only run roughshod over the opposition again in the regular season, but one which can take it all the way this time.
The Fitzpatrick Trophy (given to Maine’s top senior player) has never gone to a real live Fitzpatrick, but that could change this season if Joe Fitzpatrick is anywhere near as prolific as he was in 2013. Last season, Fitzpatrick ran for 1,444 yards and 24 touchdowns on 146 carries in the regular season, then tacked on 474 yards and seven TDs in the playoffs as he was named to the All-Conference team and was chosen Cheverus’ Fall Male Athlete of the Year. Fitzpatrick has sculpted himself into an even more imposing force in the offseason and is primed to do great things in the weeks to come. While Fitzpatrick will be the focal point of the offense, the Stags have other options. Junior Isaac Dunn, last year’s junior varsity team quarterback (who threw five varsity passes in 2013, completing four, with two going for scores), replaces Ethan Jordan under center. In addition to handing off to Fitzpatrick, Dunn can give the ball to senior Liam LaFountain (258 yards and seven TDs on 17 carries in limited action last autumn). Through the air, Dunn can look to junior Kenny Drelich, who made his mark with a decisive touchdown catch against Portland in last year’s regional final, and Holman, an All-Conference selection a year ago, who is a matchup nightmare. Cheverus has long thrived behind the play of its line and this year, the program has several spots to fill in the trenches. Curran, Drouin, Johnston, O’Brien and O’Leary will look to make a name for themselves as they try to open holes for Fitzpatrick and protect Dunn. Their development could be the difference between a playoff ouster and a championship celebration. There are few recognizable name placekickers in Maine high school football, but the Stags boast a standout in Mourmouras, who was a sure thing on extra points (converting 51 of 53) and was an All-Conference selection a year ago.
Defensively, Cheverus stands to be stingy again (last year, the Stags only gave up 10 points per game in the regular season). The line features Curran, Drouin, Holman (6.5 sacks and a fumble recovery in 2013), Johnston (three sacks and a fumble recovery last season), O’Brien and O’Leary (who had 3.5 sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries a year ago). Fitzpatrick, Holman and senior Zach Handley anchor the linebacking corps. The secondary has some familiar names as well, in Drelich and LaFountain, along with new seniors Fritz Gemmer (a transfer from Deering) and Jake Schott and junior Dan Baker.
For the second year in a row, Cheverus will be tested out of the gate by a dangerous Portland squad and unlike last fall, when they dominated the rest of the region with ease, the Stags won’t be able to overlook the opposition. A crossover showdown at Thornton Academy also looms. There will be obstacles to overcome, but Cheverus, under the tutelage of the legendary Wolfgram, always seems to find a way to thrive as a season progresses. Ultimately, this team has one goal by which it will measure itself. Just getting to the big game isn’t enough to satisfy this group. The Stags want another trophy for the case. If they develop as hoped, they’ll be in position to get it. After a pair of gutwrenching endings, Cheverus might just be the best of the bunch this time around.
COACH: Colin Minte (first year)
2013 record: 10-5-1 (Lost, 1-0, to Noble in Western A quarterfinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Derek Hammond (Senior), Mackenzie Hoglund (Junior), Andrei Vile (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 5 DEERING, Sept. 16 WINDHAM, Sept. 20 @ Scarborough, Sept. 25 PORTLAND, Oct. 7 SP, Oct. 21 @ Gorham
COACH’S COMMENT: “We’re hoping for double-digit wins and to make a deep playoff run this year.”
FORECASTER’S FORECAST: A year ago, Cheverus made the playoffs for the 20th season in a row, but dropped a tough decision to Noble in the quarterfinals. Bill LeBlanc then stepped down after seven seasons. His replacement is young, but has an impressive resume. Minte was a standout player at North Yarmouth Academy (he was the school’s first Fall Male Athlete of the Year, back in 2001) and at Skidmore College, then coached Windham’s boys to the 2011 Class A championship. He also assisted for a time at Bates College. He inherits a squad that will be in the middle of the hunt in a region that doesn’t have a favorite.
Hoglund is the top returner on offense. He was an SMAA second-team all-star in 2013 and makes life difficult for opposing defenses. Junior Brady Levesque is another scorer to watch. Hammond, along with juniors Jonathan Bernier and Andrew Nason, will help control possession in the midfield. Vile is the top defender. Junior Jacob Tomkinson has the unenviable task of replacing standout Charlie Mull, a first-team all-star a year ago, in goal.
There’s not a lot of buzz around the Stags heading into the season, but that could work in their favor. They have the pieces in place to compete with the many tough teams on the slate and should improve as the season progresses. By late October, this is a squad no one will want to face.
COACH: Craig Roberts (second year)
2013 record: 4-9-2 (Lost, 4-1, to Marshwood in Western A preliminary round)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Hope Correia (Senior), Abby Goodrich (Senior), Olivia Mull (Senior), Nicole Pineau (Senior), Katie Gordon (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 5 DEERING, Sept. 10 @ McAuley, Sept. 17 @ Windham, Sept. 27 @ Portland, Oct. 1 TA, Oct. 8 @ SP, Oct. 21 @ Gorham
COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a number of returning players and strong senior leadership who worked hard in the offseason in hopes of improving our record from last year, making the playoffs and being more competitive against the majority of the teams in our league.”
FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Cheverus managed to reach the playoffs last year for the 11th time in the program’s 12 seasons, but its four victories were the fewest since 2002. This year, the Stags figure to move up.
The offense will be led by Gordon, a forward, who had eight goals as a freshman, Goodrich, a captain and midfielder, who scored four times and had three assists in 2013, and midfielders Correia and Mull. New midfielders senior Laura Holman and freshmen Mackenzie Johnston and Michaela Jordan will help the cause. Pineau will anchor the defense. At press time, the goalkeeper position was still undecided.
This group is determined to improve and hold its own against all foes. If Cheverus can put the ball in the net consistently, its upside is tremendous. Look for the program’s playoff streak to continue. A winning record is a distinct possibility, as is a longer postseason stay. This group could be very dangerous by the time everything is said and done.
COACH: Amy Ashley (seventh year, 76-22-1 overall record)
2013 record: 11-3-1 (Lost, 3-0, to Marshwood in Western A quarterfinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Kelsey Masselli (Senior), Hattie Train (Senior), Becca Archer (Junior), Abby Ford (Junior), Emily Michaud (Junior), Colleen Slattery (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 4 @ Westbrook, Sept. 22 @ Deering, Sept. 26 @ Marshwood, Tues., Sept. 30 MASSABESIC, Oct. 6 PORTLAND, Oct. 10 SCARBOROUGH
COACH’S COMMENT: “We’ll have a new look this season. After losing 13 seniors to graduation, we have a lot of work to do. We’ll have a lot of athletes. We’ll rely on the upperclassmen to lead the way and help bring this young team along quickly. We’re shuffling girls around to see where everyone can help the team most. We expect to have our ups and downs early, but we’ll work our hardest to get this team where we want it to be. The girls are committed and determined, which is all the coaches can ask for. We may not have the depth we’ve had in the past, but there’s no doubt that we have the heart.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: There’s a lot of new around this program this fall. For starters, the coach has a new last name after marrying longtime girls’ basketball coach, Richie Ashley, over the summer. Graduation has taken its toll as well. For the past five years, Cheverus has excelled and often gone deep in the playoffs (its 66 wins in that span is second only to Scarborough in Western A), but such lofty heights will be difficult to attain this time around. Several standouts, including reigning Fall Female Athlete of the Year, Elyse Caiazzo, standout goalie Libby DesRuisseux and current college players, Laura Bither, Sarah Richter and MaryKate Slattery, have departed and the Stags have some holes to fill.
Offensively, players like returning starters Ford (an SMAA All-Rookie team selection in 2013) and Michaud hope to rattle the cage on a regular basis. Archer, who saw some key minutes a year ago, Colleen Slattery, Train, sophomore Charlotte Noyes and freshman Hannah Abbot will also be in the mix. Defensively, Masselli returns to help make life easier for new goalie Casey Simpson, a senior, who is playing field hockey for the first time. Simpson’s athletic prowess should help her acclimate to the sport and to the position, but it will take time.
With a tough schedule, Cheverus will be tested regularly and it will be hard pressed to finish with its accustomed high seed. However, the Stags will earn valuable experience as the season progresses. Ashley is one of the best coaches around. She’ll get the most out of this group. If she can get them to believe, then anything is possible. Anyone overlooking Cheverus could be in for disappointment come playoff time. Just give this group awhile to come together. It could be quite a feel-good story by October.
COACHES: Kristin Barry (fifth year with boys’ team; second year with girls’ team)
(BOYS) DNQ for states (9th @ regional meet)
(GIRLS) 10th @ Class A state meet
TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:
(BOYS) Kevin Hall (Senior), Parker Montano (Senior), Keegan Thomas (Senior), Luke Guibord (Junior), Michael Macaluso (Junior), Andrew Roberts (Junior), Josh Veroneau (Junior), Jack Whaley (Junior), Steven Larkin (Sophomore), Logan McCarthy (Sophomore), Scout Tucker (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Georgia Caso (Senior), Kaitlyn Dostie (Senior), Sarah Mount (Junior), Megan Sawicki (Junior), Anne Veroneau (Junior)
TOP FOES: Massabesic, Scarborough
COACH’S COMMENT: “The boys return almost everyone from last year’s top seven. After a just-miss ninth place finish at regionals last year, the boys hope to finish in the top eight and get back to the state meet. Our senior captains Kaitlyn and Georgia lead a small but strong girls’ team. The team finished fourth at regionals last year with only six girls on the roster.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both Cheverus cross country teams will be among the best in the SMAA this fall.
The boys look to bounce back after falling short of states for the first time since 1969, back when the New York Jets won a Super Bowl and man landed on the moon. This season, the Stags will be paced by Montano, a captain, who came in 13th last fall at regionals. Other returning scorers include Macaluso (53rd at regionals), Hall (61st), Tucker (63rd) and Veroneau (64th). Guibord, Larkin, McCarthy, Roberts, Thomas and Whaley also have experience. The team will be bolstered by the additions of freshmen Ben Adams, Jacob Harrison, Will Shibles, John Veroneau and Michael Young. This group will be very competitive in the regular season. The pack should be strong enough at regionals to make the cut and get back to states, rendering last year an aberration.
On the girls’ side, while the loss of all-state runner Kiera Murray (who was third at last year’s state meet) to graduation will be felt, several state scorers return. Leading the way is Dostie, who placed 10th at regionals and 21st at states last fall. Also scoring last season were Veroneau (55th), Mount (71st) and Sawicki (86th). Caso (18th at last year’s regional meet) is veteran who will figure into the mix, as will Sarah Terrano, a sophomore transfer from Westbrook, and freshmen Callie Banksmith, Karen Neilsen and Ashley Turner. This isn’t a large team, but it is promising. A solid season is in store, which should be capped by a trip to states and another top 10 finish.
COACH: Jason Swint (first year)
2013 results: 0-10 (no postseason)
TOP RETURNERS: Chris Billings (Senior), Quintin Farr (Senior), Joe Pirone (Senior), Matt Dillos (Junior)
TOP FOES: Falmouth, Portland, Scarborough
COACH’S COMMENT: “The team’s definitely better than last year. We’re deep. I want us to be competitive. I want to win some matches and qualify for states. I think we have the ability to make that happen. We’ll definitely progress throughout the year.”
FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Cheverus could be poised for a quantum leap up the standings this fall. The program welcomes a new coach in Swint, who played golf in high school in Ohio, works as an assistant pro at Portland Country Club and is a certified golf professional. He takes over a roster that holds promise.
For starters, Billings is as good as it gets. He’s a reigning SMAA first-teamer, who had the best score at the SMAA qualifier (73) before tying for the Class A individual title (with a round of 75). He hopes to win it again and lead his team to big things. This fall, Billings will be joined by veterans Dillos, Farr and Pirone and new addition Alex Jacobs, who played number one for Westbrook a season ago. There’s a solid nucleus here.
While Falmouth appears to still be the team to beat in the division, the Stags will win their share of matches and have the pieces in place to qualify for the state match. After a rough season in 2013, this year could belong to Cheverus.
COACH: Kiah Begley (second year)
2013 results: 6-9 (Lost, 3-0, to Biddeford in Class A preliminary round)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Abby Biegel (Senior), Josie Bradshaw (Senior)
PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 5 @ Biddeford, Sept. 9 SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 16 FALMOUTH, Sept. 23 CAPE ELIZABETH, Oct. 3 GREELY, Oct. 14 @ Yarmouth
COACH’S COMMENT: “After graduating seven important seniors, our team is in a building year. We have some strong underclassmen coming up and some strong returners who I think will help us. Last year was our first year making it to playoffs, so as a team, we have the goal of making it that one step further. We came a long way last season and we want to prove we are a force to be reckoned with.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Cheverus’ young program arrived last year, but building on that success might be difficult considering half the roster graduated.
This year’s team has some strong senior leadership in Biegel, an outside hitter, and Bradshaw, a setter. Senior Margaret Rigney, a middle hitter, is new to the team and will make an immediate impact.
This group will take awhile to hit its stride, but should progress nicely in the weeks to come. A return to the playoffs is a possibility and consistent success down the road is a likelihood.
Senior Zordan Holman is an imposing force and will be one of the region’s top players this fall.
Cheverus junior Kenny Drelich made a name for himself in last year’s regional final win over Portland and will play a bigger role in the offense this season.
Look for senior halfback and cornerback Liam LaFountain to step into a bigger role this season.
Junior Justin Johnston will make his presence felt on both sides of the ball this year.
You don’t hear much about placekickers in high school football, unless they’re excellent, like Cheverus’ sure-thing senior Patrick Mourmouras.
Look for junior Mackenzie Hoglund to remain one of the SMAA’s top boys’ soccer players and to help Cheverus to another strong season.
Senior Abby Goodrich will be a leader and a top talent on a dangerous Cheverus girls’ soccer team.
Katie Gordon scored eight goals as a freshman. She’ll play a key role again for the Cheverus girls’ soccer team as it chases a playoff spot.
Junior Emily Michaud is a returning starter who will be in the middle of the action for Cheverus’ field hockey team.
Junior Abby Ford will play a key role for the Cheverus field hockey team this autumn.
Senior Parker Montano looks to lead the Stags boys’ cross country team to the state meet this fall.
Senior Kaitlyn Dostie will be a top runner for the always-competitive Cheverus girls’ cross country team.
After a pair of playoff heartbreaks, senior Joe Fitzpatrick and the Cheverus football team will settle for nothing shy of a Gold Ball this autumn.
More photos below.