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Athletes of the Year: Yarmouth Clippers

Sports

Athletes of the Year: Yarmouth Clippers

2009 FALL MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:

ERIC ESTABROOK, Senior-Football

*Campbell Conference Class C All-Star

Yarmouth has long been a soccer power, but the football team certainly made its presence felt this year.

The third-year varsity Clippers enjoyed a magical and unexpected run to the regional final, announcing once and for all that they expect to be in contention on a regular basis.

A huge reason for Yarmouth's growth and success was the persistence of its senior class. A small, but closely-knit group went through the rough times together and were rewarded in the end.

Leading the way, on offense and defense, was senior Eric Estabrook, who quarterbacked the explosive Clippers' offense, while also making big plays on defense and special teams. Estabrook did whatever it took to lead his team to the top and is a deserving recipient of Yarmouth's 2009 Fall Male Athlete of the Year award, marking the first time in the award's nine-year history that it's gone to a male who isn't a soccer player.

Estabrook started playing football in the sixth grade, when the sport came to his hometown. He was a soccer player previously, but took quickly to football. He began as a running back, but soon found a home under center. By his sophomore season, Yarmouth was a varsity program and Estabrook and his teammates lost all nine games by various decisive margins. Things got better in 2008, but the Clippers only managed to win once.

Yarmouth expected to be vastly improved this fall, but dropped its first two games in close fashion. Then, everything finally clicked. Estabrook and the rest of the offense seemingly scored at will and the Clippers also got plenty of points from their defense and special teams. By season's end, Yarmouth was 6-2 and earned a playoff berth for the first time.

Along the way, Estabrook had many highlights, throwing and rushing for a TD, while also kicking a field goal in a loss to Oak Hill, throwing and rushing for a pair of scores in a win at Traip, throwing, rushing and returning an interception for a TD against Sacopee, throwing three scoring passes and rushing for another in a pivotal win over Lisbon,  scoring on two TD runs versus Madison and rushing for two more against Freeport.

In the postseason, Estabrook led the Clippers to a stirring 35-28 quarterfinal round win at Livermore Falls, throwing two TD passes, including the winner late, then helped Yarmouth beat Old Orchard Beach in overtime in the semis (scoring three times on the ground, including the winner in OT). He threw a TD pass early in the regional final at Dirigo, but an injury on the ensuing kickoff ended the dream and the Clippers went down to a 41-7 defeat.

Estabrook, who's an avid outdoorsman, plans to throw and run relays in outdoor track. He would like to play football in college and will see if he can catch on with a team next year.

Don't be surprised if he does that just. Eric Estabrook, Yarmouth's 2009 Fall Male Athlete of the Year, helped rewrite the history books and elevated his program to greatness.

Coach Jim Hartman's Comment: "Eric is a success story. He's very emotional and driven. He really matured into a coach's dream. He's a coach on the field. Athletically, he could probably do whatever he wanted. He's very smart. There's not an ounce of quit in him. He's great on both sides of the ball. He led the conference in interceptions on defense and was up there in tackles. He's a great quarterback and can punt and kick too. He's just a great kid."

2008 winner: Johnny Murphy (Soccer)

2007 winner: Johnny Murphy (Soccer)

2006 winner: Cody Lapointe (Soccer)

2005 winner: Tim Murphy (Soccer)

2004 winner: Justin Morrill (Soccer)

2003 winner: Pat Gildart (Soccer)

2002 winner: Greg Abbot (Soccer)

2001 winner: Eoin Lynch (Soccer)

2009 FALL FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:

KATE DARRELL, Senior-Volleyball

* All-State, second team

* Senior All-Star

* WMC all-star

* Academic all-star

* Tri-captain

The libero, or defensive specialist position in volleyball isn't glamorous, but it's crucial to a team's success.

Considering the Yarmouth Clippers went a surprising 11-4 this fall, it's safe to surmise that the team's libero was something special.

She certainly was.

Kate Darrell was a stabilizing and talented influence all year as Yarmouth continued to grow its program to the point where it was competitive with everyone, even state finalists Falmouth and Greely.

For doing the often unnoticed dirty work so well, for helping her teammates succeed and for leading the Clippers to a memorable season, Kate Darrell is The Forecaster's selection as Yarmouth's 2009 Fall Female Athlete of the Year.

Darrell grew up in Yarmouth and started playing volleyball as a freshman. At that point, the Clippers were really struggling and there was talk of disbanding the program. Darrell, who gravitated to the libero position due to her diminutive size, played a key role as Yarmouth became more and more competitive.

This fall, the Clippers really saw their summer workouts pay big dividends and they won 11 of 14 matches. Yarmouth was eliminated by Biddeford in the quarterfinal round of the Class A playoffs, but its season was an unqualified success.

Darrell led the state in digs with 276, added 24 aces and 12 kills and converted 94 percent of her serves. She also plays with the Junior Olympic "Gold" team, takes part in beach volleyball and earned all sorts of postseason recognition for coaches in the conference and state.

Darrell, who plays shortstop on the softball team in the spring and is a member of National Honor Society, Green Voices Society, Global Action Club and Young Conservatives at Yarmouth, is weighing her college options. She's interested in biology and veterinary medicine.

Her presence was crucial for the Clippers the past four seasons, especially this one. Kate Darrell, Yarmouth's 2009 Fall Female Athlete of the Year, proved that great things can come in small packages and that defensive specialists can have plenty of fun as well.

Coach Jim Senecal's Comment: "Kate defended our back row in all six of our rotations all year long. Our team was really built around defense. Her ability to read the opponents' hitters was second to none. She was a very consistent passer and a good floor leader. Simply put, our team would not have had the success we had this year without Kate keeping the play alive with her skills. She's a hard-working, dedicated kid who I can honestly say I'm proud to have had the opportunity to coach. She was instrumental in bringing the program from near extinction to one of the better programs around. We'll miss her next year, but we won't forget her."

2008 winner: Mariah Martin (Field hockey)

2007 winner: Anna Makaretz (Cross country)

2006 winner: Nicole Simmonds (Soccer)

2005 winner: Shannon Gildart (Soccer)

2004 winner: Melissa Moylan (Soccer)

2003 winner: Stephanie Whittaker (Soccer)

2002 winner: Karen Thorp (Cross country)

2001 winner: Danielle McGee (Field hockey)

Photo: Hoffer
Estabrook

Photo: Hoffer
Darrell