Cheverus Stags Fall Sports Preview
Virtually every Cheverus team qualified for the postseason last fall. Don't be surprised if all of them do this time around. The football program has returned to prominence and looks to build on last year's playoff appearance. Both soccer teams are solidly in the running for league and regional honors. Field hockey is coming off its best season ever and sees itself as a legitimate title contender. Both cross country teams will make spirited runs at a state championship. The girls have a chance to make school history in the process. Golf fell short of the postseason last fall, but has the pieces in place to be an October force this time around.
COACH: John Wolfgram (fourth year)
2008 Record: 5-4 (Lost 35-0 to eventual champion Bonny Eagle in Western Class A quarterfinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Matt Ball (Senior), Tom Marcisso (Senior), Michael O'Brion (Senior), Matt Place (Senior), John White (Senior), Peter Gwilym (Junior), Liam Hobbins (Junior), Evan Jendrasko (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 12 (H) WINDHAM, Sept. 25 @ Portland, Oct. 16 @ Bonny Eagle, Oct. 23 @ Deering
COACH'S COMMENT: "We just want to keep improving. That's been the case so far in practice. It's a coachable group of kids. We hope to continue to progress. Playoffs are the first goal. Last year was a nice step."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: The Stags made great strides last fall in Wolfgram's third season. Cheverus dropped its opening game, then embarked on a five-game winning streak, its longest in years. Those five victories proved enough to send the Stags to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. While Cheverus was ousted by eventual champ Bonny Eagle, the season was an unmitigated success and set the stage for what the Stags hope is another successful campaign in 2009. As usual, the offense will be run-oriented behind the two Matts, Ball and Place, both of whom were productive a year ago. Look for Hobbins to get involved as well. Gwilym proved to be accurate and poised under center as a sophomore and should be even better this season, both running the ball and throwing it. Marcisso and O'Brion anchor the line. Defensively, White (250 pounds), Jenrasko, Marcisso, O'Brion and Place will make an impact. Ball will make noise from his linebacker spot. Cheverus has some challenges in the early going, but they are manageable. The first three-quarters of the schedule provide optimism. If the Stags can rack up some early victories, the season-ending at Bonny Eagle, at Deering stretch won't be quite as daunting. Cheverus isn't viewed as an elite contender this year, but as always, the Stags will play hard from opening kickoff until the final whistle. If the team can stay healthy and ride the confidence from last year's playoff berth, they could very well find themselves back in the postseason.
FUN FACT: It's been almost a decade since the Stags have won more than five games in a regular season. In 2000, Cheverus went 6-2, then lost to South Portland in the Western A quarterfinals.
COACH: Bill LeBlanc (third year)
2008 Record: 7-5-3 (Lost 2-1 to Gorham in Western Class A preliminary round)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Scott Moody (Senior), Tom Mourmouras (Senior), Ian O'Malley (Senior), Andrew Nickless (Junior), Louis DiStasio (Sophomore), Nick Melville (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 4 (H) GORHAM, Sept. 24 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 1 (H) KENNEBUNK, Oct. 7 @ Portland, Oct. 8 (H) WESTBROOK, Oct. 15 @ Deering
COACH'S COMMENT: "Our schedule sets up well for us. We have a lot of games early in the season we should win. Hopefully the kids will get better by midseason when the schedule gets tougher. Our goalies will have to step up. I'm hoping we'll be similar to Portland last year and get on Tom's shoulders and see how far he can take us."
FORECASTER'S FORECAST: While Scarborough figures to be its usual dominant self, the door is open for other Southern Maine Activities Association squads to move up the standings and earn a prime playoff position. The Stags have a great shot at doing that very thing. They feature a potential superstar in Mourmouras, who was an SMAA second-team all-star last season. He'll spearhead the offense with help from DiStasio, Melville and Nickless. O'Malley will be a factor on both defense and in the midfield. Moody is another solid defender. LeBlanc is having two goalies see action this season. Junior Peter Pothoff, who split time a year ago, and new senior Tyler Bouchard, a basketball player, will do the honors. Cheverus has a shot at avenging last year's playoff loss in its opener, then plays a series of winnable games. It's quite realistic that the Stags could boast one of the best records around (even an unbeaten one) when they do battle with Scarborough on Sept. 24. The slate gets tougher from there, but Cheverus should be clicking on all cylinders by then with plenty of confidence in place. The Stags haven't been to the semifinals in five years, but they have a great shot at advancing deep into the postseason this time around.
FUN FACT: Cheverus isn't a big fan of playing at Deering High. The Stags are 0-3-1 in their past four visits, dating back to their last win there, 2-1 on Oct. 12, 2004. Cheverus has been eliminated at that venue in each of the past two postseasons, by Deering in 2007 and by Gorham last fall.
COACH: Dan LaVallee (eighth year)
2008 Record: 10-4-2 (Lost 3-0 to Marshwood in Western Class A quarterfinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Grace Fitzpatrick (Senior), Ashley Giddinge (Senior), Alex Kane (Senior), Allison Thomas (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 5 (H) GORHAM, Sept. 9 @ Marshwood, Sept. 24 @ Scarborough, Oct. 6 (H) PORTLAND, Oct. 9 (H) WESTBROOK
COACH'S COMMENT: "I think we'll be pretty good. If we can get the goalie issue ironed out, we should be strong. We'll be pretty strong on offense. So far, so good. We face trial by fire at the beginning. We open with Gorham and Marshwood."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: While the Stags aren't quite as formidable on paper as they've been the past several seasons, anyone overlooking them is in for an unpleasant surprise. Giddinge was an SMAA second-team all-star a year ago. She'll anchor the defense and have a large responsibility for keeping shots to a minimum. At press time, Cheverus was still uncertain who was going to start in goal. The offense will be paced by Fitzpatrick and Kane. Keep on eye on Thomas, she's one of the better young players in the league. While the Stags will be the underdog in their first two games, they have a great opportunity to avenge some painful playoff losses from years past. Cheverus doesn't have quite as much talent as it's had in recent years, but there are several unproven players eager to make a mark. If they can step it up, there is every reason to believe the Stags will post another winning record and be in position for a playoff run. By late-October, this team could once again be a force.
FUN FACT: Last year's loss to Marshwood was Cheverus' first-ever in five quarterfinal round games.
COACH: Amy McMullin (second year)
2008 Record: 10-7 (Lost 2-1, in overtime, to Westbrook in Western Class A semifinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Bri Amato (Senior), Alyssa Audet (Senior), Emily Ford (Senior), Grace Franson (Senior), Maggie Grindatti (Senior), Theresa Hendrix (Senior), Julie Smith (Senior), Lexi Hilton (Junior), Anna McDonough (Junior), Emily Sawchuck (Junior), Sarah LaQuerre (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 4 (H) DEERING, Sept. 14 (H) SANFORD, Sept. 18 (H) WESTBROOK, Sept. 28 (H) GORHAM, Oct. 10 (H) SCARBOROUGH
COACH'S COMMENT: "We are hoping to pick up where we left off last season and continue to better our success. We have nine returning starters and have more depth this year than we've ever had. We are faster, stronger and more experienced this year, so we are looking for a great season. We know what our goal is and where we want to be come playoff time."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Cheverus was a Jekyll and Hyde team in 2008, but saved its best for last. The Stags were 7-2 at one point, then lost four of their final five regular season games to wind up 8-6 and just ninth in the Heal Points. Cheverus turned it around, however, winning at Windham in the preliminary round, then capturing a quarterfinal for a first time with a stunning upset win at unbeaten Sanford. A painful semifinal round loss at Westbrook ensued in overtime, but the Stags announced once and for all that they have become a top contender. Look for that trend to continue this autumn under McMullin, who is the league's reigning Coach of the Year.. While 2008 Fall Female Athlete of the Year Bethany Schleh, goalie Beth Potter and a handful of others have departed, Cheverus has a lot returning and has to like its chances. Opposing teams will have a difficult time matching up with the Stags' potent attack. Grindatti, LaQuerre and Sawchuck figure to be the leading scorers, but they'll get help from Audet, Franson, Ford, Hendrix (an SMAA first-teamer last year), Hilton, McDonough and Smith. New seniors Olivia Rogosienski and Sage Witham and new junior Taylor Witham will also be in the mix. The defense is anchored by Amato and new seniors Lauren DuBois and Katie Haley. New seniors Audrey Grinnell and Saundrine Lanouette are battling for the goalie spot and both show promise. New junior Katie Semo was the JV goalie last season and will also see some time in the cage. The Stags are no longer content to be a contender. They played deep into the postseason a year ago and anything short of that this fall will be considered a disappointment. Considering Cheverus' talent and hunger and the fact that the coaching staff has a year under its belt, it's safe to surmise that the Stags will be one of the finest teams in the Southern Maine Activities Association and will make a deep run come playoff time.
FUN FACT: Cheverus played in three overtime games last year and lost them all, including the semifinal round contest at Westbrook.
(BOYS) Bruce Bickford (first year)
(GIRLS) Valerie Guillet (sixth year)
(BOYS) 3rd @ Class A state meet (regional champions; 23rd @ New Englands)
(GIRLS) 6th @ Class A state meet
TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:
(BOYS) Taylor Dundas (Senior), Andrew Snyder (Senior), Tim Woods (Senior), Jack Terwilliger (Junior)
(GIRLS) Amelia Lundkvist (Senior), Lauren Peter (Senior), Liana Rubinoff (Senior), Caroline Summa (Junior), Fiona Hendry (Sophomore), Maddie Woods (Sophomore)
TOP FOE: Scarborough
COACH BICKFORD'S COMMENT: "We've got some good kids returning. We have a good mix of youth and experience. We have a very strong top four. Hopefully we can make a run at a state title. I'm pleased with the kids who came out. It's a fantastic group to work with."
COACH GUILLET'S COMMENT: "The kids are motivated. They ran a lot during the summer. Results will depend on how healthy we are when it's important. We need to keep our focus and to continue to work as a team. On paper, this is absolutely the best team I've had here."
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: When the dust settles, Cheverus could be the center of the high school cross country world this autumn. Both teams have a legitimate shot at winning it all.
The boys were the best team in the region last season, but slipped to third at the state meet. With four standouts returning and some solid newcomers joining the ranks, the Stags hope to win the program's first championship in eight years. Terwilliger was fifth at states last year and was named Cheverus' 2008 Fall Male Athlete of the Year. Dundas (eighth at states), Woods (17th) and Snyder (who didn't finish at states) also return, making up as strong a foursome as can be found in the state. Snyder and Dundas are reigning first-team SMAA all-stars. Woods made the second team last fall. New to the mix this season are junior Pat Jerome, sophomore Lucas Temple (who ran a five-minute mile in the spring) and freshmen Chandler Dundas and Brady Fochay. That figures to make for a very strong pack that will be tough to beat. The Stags will get a challenge from rival Scarborough in the region and perhaps Lewiston at states, but this could be the year Cheverus returns to glory.
On the girls' side, the story is similar, some top returners joined by promising newcomers. Hendry had a breakout freshman campaign, earning first-team all-star status after placing third at states. Lundkvist (a second-team all-star who was 14th at states), Summa (50th) and the always dangerous Rubinoff, Peter and Woods also return. If that group didn't make the Stags formidable enough, the big news of the offseason was the addition of Bonny Eagle standout Emily Durgin, who is just a sophomore. Freshmen Casey Honan and Greta Niedermeyer make Cheverus that much stronger. The Stags will be pushed by Scarborough, but if the team stays healthy and focused, there's a great chance that this group could make history and deliver the first girls' state champion in any sport in school history.
COACH: James Ouellette (sixth year)
2008 Results: 4-6 (no postseason)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: D.J. Honan (Senior), Kyle Randall (Senior), Kyle Bourassa (Junior), Nick Burns (Junior)
TOP FOE: Deering
COACH'S COMMENT: "I think we can do well. I look for us to be right near the top. We've got kids who don't have a lot of experience, but I expect D.J. to have a very good year. He's played very well this summer."
FORECASTER'S FORECAST: While Deering is the heavy favorite this season, Cheverus has to like its chances. The Stags have been a top contender in recent seasons and even though they fell short of the state match a year, they are primed for a strong season. Honan (a first-team SMAA all-star who shot an 83 at the individual state match in 2008) is one of the finest players in the state and is coming off a solid summer of triumph. He'll be a challenge for any opposing No. 1 player and will make a run at the individual crown. Bourassa (a second-team all-star last season), Burns and Randall bring experience. A couple newcomers will provide depth and promise. Senior Aaron Brogan, who played junior varsity last year, and freshman Andrew Cloutier hope to make an immediate splash. With two more teams from the area qualifying for states this year, Cheverus has a great opportunity to be a force in October. The Stags should be very tough in league play and hope to peak at the right time. This could be a dark horse that people are talking about later in the year.