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Athletes of the Year: Falmouth Yachtsmen

Sports

Athletes of the Year: Falmouth Yachtsmen

2009 FALL MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:

GABE HOFFMAN-JOHNSON, Senior-Soccer

* Regional all-star

* WMC all-star, first team

* All-state, All-New England, All-American finalist

Gabe Hoffman-Johnson turned heads as a highly-touted freshman and simply got better over the next three years. Good enough to be considered not only one of (if not the) best player in the state, but also special enough to be mentioned among the greatest ever to play for the dominant Falmouth program.

This fall, despite being far from 100 percent physically, Hoffman-Johnson consistently overcame and delivered big goals, helping the Yachtsmen rebound from last year's heartache and return to the Class B pinnacle.

Hoffman-Johnson brushed aside injury and aggressive defenders and capped his high school career in style. He's also The Forecaster's selection for Falmouth's 2009 Fall Male Athlete of the Year, making him a repeat pick.

Hoffman-Johnson was a phenom early in his Yachtsmen career, helping his team win the state title as a freshman and a sophomore. Last year, even though Falmouth was stunned by rival Yarmouth in the regional final, Hoffman-Johnson won All-New England and All-America honors.

This year, he kept the good times rolling.

Hoffman-Johnson had two goals in a season-opening win over Fryeburg, scored twice in a win at Greely, had four goals versus Wells, scored two goals and added two assists in a win over Gray-New Gloucester and had two goals and a pair of helpers in a regular season-ending victory over York.

In the playoffs, Hoffman-Johnson really rolled into form and his team followed suit. In the quarterfinals against Fryeburg, he had three goals and two assists. In a semifinal round win over Lincoln, Hoffman-Johnson scored three more. In the regional final, the Yachtsmen avenged their loss from the previous year with a 3-0 win over Yarmouth. Hoffman-Johnson had the second goal. He then added another in a state championship game win over Ellsworth to finish with 28 on the year (to go along with 14 assists) as Falmouth scored a prolific 104 times.

For his career, Hoffman-Johnson, who is once again in the running for All-New England and All-America, had 84 goals and 28 assists. He was a conference and regional all-star in each of his four seasons.

Hoffman-Johnson who is also a force on the ice for the Yachtsmen, will take his act to Dartmouth College next year. Don't be surprised if he makes another immediate impact.

The Yachtsmen have their share of standout players over the years, but this one was a force from start to finish. Gabe Hoffman-Johnson, Falmouth's 2008 and 2009 Fall Male Athlete of the Year, was a legend in his own time.

Coach Dave Halligan's Comment: "Gabe has been an integral member of our team. A great deal of our success is directly attributable to his presence on the field. His physical skills and technical ability make him a dangerous player wherever he plays on the field. Despite being double- and sometimes triple-teamed, he seemed to play a major role in every important goal we scored. He's one of the all-time greats to play at Falmouth High School."

2008 winner: Gabe Hoffman-Johnson (Soccer)

2007 winner: Jack Wyman (Golf)

2006 winner: Nick Ford (Football)

2005 winner: Adam Packard (Golf)

2004 winner: Connor Hollowell (Soccer)

2003 winner: Jimmy Velas (Soccer)

2002 winner: Brandon Bonsey (Cross country)

2001 winner: Brian Giggey (Golf)

2009 FALL FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:

EMMA WILBERG, Senior-Volleyball

* East/West all-star

* WMC all-star, first team

* All-State first team

* All-Academic team

In the sport of girls' volleyball, most of the attention is centered around the play above the net. A big reason that the Falmouth program became the feel-good story of the season was a little more subtle, but dramatic nonetheless.

The Yachtsmen were surprisingly sound fundamentally for a third-year varsity program and took the local volleyball scene by storm, advancing to the state final before finally bowing to perennial champion Greely.

While Falmouth had several key senior contributors, Emma Wilberg managed to be a threat serving the ball and setting up her talented teammates.

She was also a great leader and dazzled academically, a combination that convinced The Forecaster to name Emma Wilberg Falmouth's 2009 Fall Female Athlete of the Year.

Wilberg, who grew up in Falmouth, didn't start playing volleyball seriously until her sophomore year. She played soccer prior, but got into her new sport right away, during the Yachtsmen's inaugural varsity season. Wilberg honed her game with the high school team, while also playing for the Portland North Junior Olympic program.

This fall, she and her teammates won their first nine matches with ease, then hosted Greely in the most highly-anticipated match in local annals. Wilberg played a large role in Falmouth's first-ever win over its rival and the Yachtsmen went on to earn the top seed for the playoffs. Falmouth and Greely would square off again in the state match. Despite a valiant effort, the Yachtsmen were ousted in three games, but Wilberg (who led the team with a 94.8 serving average and had 630 sets, leading to 398 kills, with 219 assists) drew plenty of praise for her play, as she was selected to play in the Senior All-Star Game and was named to the all-conference and all-state squads.

Wilberg, who is also part of a state championship juggernaut tennis team in the spring, belongs to the school's Civil Rights team, is the editor of the school yearbook and oh by the way, is the president of student council. She hopes to play volleyball in college.

She might have come late to the sport, but quickly made up for lost time. Emma Wilberg, Falmouth's 2009 Fall Female Athlete of the Year, played a large role in an inspirational story and figures to have plenty of triumph in her future.

Coach Gary Powers' Comment: "Emma is everything a coach could want in an athlete. She works hard, has a great attitude and team spirit, as well as being courteous, respectful and displaying tremendous sportsmanship. She's well-respected around the league. She's always one of the first to step into a drill, is always willing to help her teammates. She runs the offense on the court and keeps the team upbeat. Her presence will be missed both on the court and the team."

2008 winner: Nicole Foley (Field hockey)

2007 winner: Maddie Grygiel (Cross country)

2006 winner: Emily Bowden (Field hockey)

2005 winner: Riley Haddock (Field hockey)

2004 winner: Riley Haddock (Field hockey)

2003 winner: Hannah Millick (Field hockey)

2002 winner: Ali Hollowell (Field hockey)

2001 winner: Whitney Huse (Soccer)