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Yarmouth Clippers Winter Sports Preview

Winter Sports Previews

Yarmouth Clippers Winter Sports Preview

Yarmouth projects have a very strong winter sports season. Boys' basketball is coming off a campaign which saw it do something the program hadn't done for 37 seasons. This year, the Clippers hope to go even deeper into the tournament. The girls' team welcomes a new coach and should move up the standings. Boys' hockey also has a new head man and optimism that the team will be a top contender. The girls' squad is looking for more wins than in the past. Track will make the most of its athletes, as will a swim program that always seems to get plenty of mileage out of its participants. Then, there's skiing, long a Yarmouth specialty. Look for both the boys' and girls' Alpine and Nordic teams to once again be formidable.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Adam Smith (eighth year, 76-59)

2010-11 Record: 16-5 (Lost, 61-47, to Cape Elizabeth in Western B Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Josh Britten (Senior), Chris Knaub (Senior), Sam Torres (Senior), Christian Henry (Junior), Adam Wriggins (Junior), David Murphy (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 17 @ York, Dec. 20 @ Falmouth, Jan. 6 (H) GREELY, Jan. 10 (H) POLAND, Jan. 12 @ Cape Elizabeth, Jan. 18 @ Waynflete, Jan. 24 @ Traip, Jan. 31 @ Greely, Feb. 3 @ Poland, Feb. 7 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Feb. 10 (H) FALMOUTH

COACH’S COMMENT: “We're struggling early with injuries. We haven't had 12 guys at a practice yet. We have some kids with range. We'll have to be better defensively because we're small. If we can get fullcourt tempo, our size won't be an issue. This group has high expectations because of the past few years. Chemistry and health will dictate how we do before Christmas. I see us jelling more after the new year and hopefully playing to our potential down the stretch. ”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: The last time Yarmouth made the playoffs five years in succession, the run began just after the Summer of Love and didn't end until Gerald Ford was in the White House. It's safe to say that 1967-68 through 1974-75 was the program's Golden Era (the Clippers won their lone state championship in 1968), but it's becoming evident that the present is a pretty special time as well as Smith (our Coach of the Year last winter) has molded Yarmouth into a regular contender. The Clippers, coming off their first regional final appearance in 37 seasons, lost league All-Star and energizer bunny Luke Pierce and top rebounder Matt Murphy to graduation, but the returning nucleus shows promise and it's likely Yarmouth will once again be a factor in Western Class B. This year's team will go as far as Britten and his health can take it. Britten (a first-team all-star last winter when he was second in scoring with a 23.6 average) suffered a shoulder injury last spring in lacrosse, missed the soccer season and only returned to action at the very end of the preseason. He certainly showed no ill effects in Friday's 70-34 season opening win at Gray-New Gloucester, sinking three 3s en route to a 19-point performance. He'll have the ball in his hands as much as possible and when he's on fire, he's almost impossible to stop. Torres is a great leader and had a breakout performance in last year's quarterfinal round win over Mountain Valley. Look for him to play a bigger role in the offense this winter, both at the point guard and shooting the ball (he had 18 points in the opener). Murphy will see more time this winter and has the bloodlines to suggest he's a budding star. He opened with 10 points. The front line doesn't have much size (with one exception, in a moment), but Knaub (ninth in the league last year with 2.8 steals a game) has been through the battles and has enjoyed great success in other sports (he was Yarmouth's 2011 Fall Male Athlete of the Year). He had six points against Gray-New Gloucester. Henry and Wriggins will play bigger roles this winter. Then, there's sophomore Nathaniel Shields-Auble, who is 6-foot-4, huge by Yarmouth standards. Shields-Auble is already a local household name after helping the football team repeat as Class C champions. He'll be called upon to score (he had 10 points in the first game), rebound and neutralize several of the talented big bodies that the opposition boasts. Rest assured that this team will be up-tempo as possible, will always play hard and believes it can beat anyone. If the pieces come together and if Britten can stay on the court, there's every reason to believe that the Clippers could be in for another special year. One that extends even longer than last.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Jay Lowery (first year)

2010-11 Record: 1-17 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Maddy Wood (Senior), Monica Austin (Sophomore), Sean Cahill (Sophomore), Grace O'Donnell (Sophomore):

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 13 @ Lake Region, Dec. 15 @ Wells, Dec. 17 (H) YORK, Dec. 20 (H) FALMOUTH, Jan. 4 @ Freeport, Jan. 6 (H) GREELY, Jan. 18 (H) WAYNFLETE, Jan. 20 @ GNG, Jan. 27 (H) FREEPORT, Jan. 31 @ Greely, Feb. 10 @ Falmouth

COACH’S COMMENT: “I think it'll be a good season. The kids are having a good time and are coming around. We're running a rigorous program. If we break the press well, things will fall into place. I look for us to grow stronger as the season goes along.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth welcomes a new coach for the second straight year as Lowery replaces Mandy Lewis. Lowery played at Deering and has coached at Lyman Moore Middle School and at the AAU level. He has a pair of impressive assistant coaches in Craig Curry (who created a boys' lacrosse dynasty at the school) and Amy McMullin, a highly respected field hockey and softball coach at Cheverus. They take over a team that is on the way up. The loss of last year's freshman sensation, Olivia Smith (a league all-star who was second in blocks, fifth in rebounds and seventh in scoring and steals a season ago) certainly hurts (she's now at McAuley), but Yarmouth will take the tradeoff of getting senior Morgan Cahill back. Cahill was a key player for the Clippers as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Cheverus for one year (she was selected an SMAA first-team all-star in 2010-11). Cahill will be the focal point of this year's offense, as will senior Jeanna Lowery, who did not play last year. She'll be the point guard and is another scoring threat. Austin can hit shots from the perimeter. Wood is another returning guard to watch. Cahill's joined on the front line by her younger sister, Sean (who placed fifth in the league last season in blocks per game with 2.2), and O'Donnell. Freshman guard Shannon Fallon (the goalie in soccer in the fall) and forward Lane Simsarian hope to quickly earn key minutes. Yarmouth gave visiting Gray-New Gloucester a scare in the opener Friday before going down to a 50-39 defeat. O'Donnell was the leading scorer in that game with 13 points. Morgan Cahill reintroduced herself to the Western Maine Conference with 10 and also swatted away 13 shots. It will be a process for the Clippers to return to contention, especially with a very difficult early slate, but Cahill will keep them in a lot of of games. If some other consistent scorers can emerge, Yarmouth won't just compete, it will win some games and in a best case scenario, might even make a run at a playoff spot after falling short the past three seasons.

BOYS' HOCKEY

COACH: Dave St. Pierre (first year)

2010-11 Record: 10-9 (Lost, 4-2, to Greely in Western B semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Marshall Brunelle (Senior), Eamon Costello (Senior), Bart Gallagher (Senior), Max Grimm (Senior), Alex Kurtz (Senior), Pat McLoon (Senior), Mark Brown (Junior), Red DeSmith (Junior), Kevin Haley (Junior), Max Watson (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 17 (H) GREELY, Dec. 19 @ York, Jan. 2 @ Portland, Jan. 14 (H) CAMDEN HILLS, Jan. 21 @ Greely, Jan. 25 @ Leavitt, Feb. 11 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Feb. 15 (H) LEAVITT, Feb. 18 (H) YORK, Feb. 22 @ Camden Hills

COACH’S COMMENT: “The league should have a lot of parity this year with seven teams capable of knocking one another off on a given night. It should be a fun season with plenty of key games to watch. I'm optimistic about our team. We have a fairly experienced unit that understands what it takes to be successful. Our six seniors will anchor the team. They're a talented, hard working group who helped return Yarmouth hockey to playoff contender status. We have a long way to go and plenty to work on, but if we can establish some secondary scoring, have a couple key defensemen step up their games and stay healthy, we should be a team that can make a run.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: It's Back to the Future for the Clippers as St. Pierre, an assistant coach during the program's most recent glory era of the late 1990s and early 2000s, takes over as coach, replacing Marc Halsted, who did a nice job returning the program to prominence. St. Pierre (who was an assistant last year) will be joined by Scott Matusovich, who coached the 2001 and 2002 Yarmouth champions. He'll be in an assistant role this time. The Clippers aren't being mentioned as a top Western B contender, but they might follow the lead of the 2009-10 team, lie in the weeds, then make a move late. The Clippers have plenty of offensive firepower in Brunelle, Costello (a second-team all-star last winter) and Kurtz (a third-team all-star last season). Brown, Haley and Watson (a member of the All-Rookie team a year ago), along with sophomore David Clemmer and freshman Dylan Tureff, will also pitch in. Defensively, Gallagher and Grimm are experienced. They're joined by freshman Odie DeSmith. Yarmouth will likely platoon Red DeSmith (a third-team all-star in 2010-11) and McLoon in goal, as they did for much of last season. Freshman Nick Allen might see some time as he appears to be the goalie of the future. The Clippers opened Saturday with a 6-2 loss at always-tough Cape Elizabeth. There are also tough games coming up with Greely and defending Class B champion York, then the schedule eases up somewhat. It's safe to say that Yarmouth will play hard throughout and will improve markedly as the season progresses. By late February and into March, these Clippers will be primed to make a run.

GIRLS' HOCKEY

COACH: David Neujahr (fourth year, 13-38-1)

2010-11 Record: 4-12 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Suzanne Driscoll (Senior), Caelainn Costello (Junior), Meredith McLoon (Sophomore), Ariel Potter (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 30 (H) LEWISTON, Jan. 12 (H) FALMOUTH, Jan. 14 (H) GREELY, Feb. 4 @ Cheverus

COACH'S COMMENT: “We're young and inexperienced. I think we'll get there. We have enough talent. The goal is to get better and make the playoffs. We have a tough schedule.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth is having trouble scoring in the early going this winter, being blanked by Falmouth (5-0), Brunswick (3-0) and Greely (7-0). Freshman goalie Hannah Williams (one of two Freeport players competing with the Clippers) has quickly gotten up to speed as a result. She made 43 saves against Falmouth. Defensively, the team is led by captain Driscoll (Yarmouth's Fall Female Athlete of the Year after leading the Clippers to their first ever volleyball crown). She's joined by another captain, Costello, and Potter on defense. Potter's actually the top scoring threat. She had over 20 goals a year ago. Driscoll and McLoon will also look to fill the net. Freeport freshman Emily Johnson is active on the offense and freshmen Katie Brown and Michelle Robichault also look to contribute. Look for goals and wins to come as the year moves along. The Clippers will improve by the day and while the playoffs might be a goal that's a little lofty, improving on last year's record and setting the stage for future success is likely.

INDOOR TRACK

COACHES: Hank Richards (third year)

2010-11 Results:

(BOYS) 10th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) No score @ Class B state meet (12th @ WMC Championship meet)

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Lucas Davis (Senior), Tom Robichaud (Junior), Wes Crawford (Sophomore), Ben Decker (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Susannah Daggett (Senior), Jocelyn Davies (Senior), Megan Smith (Junior), Sydney Sperber (Junior)

COACH'S COMMENT: “The numbers are the best they've ever been with close to 40 boys and girls competing. The boys are looking to improve on their top 10 finish at states and make an impact in the highly competitive conference. The girls should make an impact every week. The success of the girls will be dependent on the development of the freshmen and sophomores. Overall, both teams are young, but have flashes of talent throughout. Our goal is to peak at the right time and make an impact at the Western Maine Conference and state meets.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth's indoor track program is in very good shape as both squads look to seriously contend.

The boys return state meet scorer Davis (fifth in the high jump). He'll also run sprints and relays. Crawford, Decker and Robichaud are all distance threats. Robichaud also competes in the jumps and pole vault. Senior sprinters Ethan Cyr and Stephen O'Brien, sophomore sprinter Chandler Smith and freshmen distance runner Sam Gerkin and sprinter Ben Vigue add depth. There are enough athletes on the roster to keep the Clippers competitive throughout. They'd love to move up even higher by the time the big meets roll around.

On the girls' side, Davies is a top jumper and sprinter. Daggett (sprints). Smith (pole vault) and Sperber (distance) are the top returners. New sophomores Maddy Maierhofer (sprints) and Katie Overhaug (sprints and shot put) and freshmen sprinters Fiona Clark, Mary Coyne, Lily Daggett and Molly Walsh (who also competes in the hurdles) will all be heard from. Yarmouth should be a strong team all winter and figures to place a few athletes in the scoring column at states come February.

SWIMMING

COACH: Brian Townsend (third year)

2010-11 Results:

(BOYS) 9th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 6th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING SWIMMERS:

(BOYS) Conner LaJoie (Junior), Ethan Nightingale (Junior), Luca Sied (Junior)

(GIRLS) Cathy Agro (Senior), Haley Estabrook (Junior), Caihlan Snyder (Junior), Abby Belisle-Haley (Sophomore), Teagan Snyder (Sophomore)

COACH’S COMMENT: “I have a bunch of returning swimmers and some new faces too. We're lacking in seniors this year, but that just makes us better off next year. I expect to do about the same as last year, always staying hopeful that we can slide up a slot or two.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both Yarmouth teams had strong showings last winter and should be competitive again this season.

The boys return three swimmers, LaJoie, Nightingale and Sied, who were part of a fifth-place 200 free relay team. All three will look to be factors as individuals and in the relays. The Clippers will be difficult to contend with both in the regular season and in February.

On the girls' side, Belisle-Haley was runner-up in the butterfly and third in the backstroke last season. Estabrook placed fifth in the 50 free and fifth in the backstroke. Agro and both Snyders also have experience. Several new girls hope to factor in. Yarmouth hopes to finish in the top 10 at states for the eighth year in a row. You have to like their chances.

SKIING

2010-11 Results:

(BOYS) 2nd @ Class B combined state meet

(GIRLS) Class B combined state champions

ALPINE

COACH: Bob Grout (fourth year)

2010-11 Results:

(BOYS) 7th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) Class B state champions

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Sam Keegan (Senior), Jake Smith (Senior), Drew Grout (Junior), Matt Highland (Junior), Rhys Eddy (Sophomore), Matt Woodbury (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Taylor Hornney (Senior), Claudia Lockwood (Senior), Chapin Dorsett (Sophomore), Julia Primeau (Sophomore)

COACH'S COMMENT: “We're looking good. The girls have a tradition to uphold. We want to repeat as state champions. We have the talent. We can do it if we put in the work. The boys will be very strong. We have a good, solid core. I'm pretty excited. We'll be right there.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth's ski program is fired up to do great things and the Clippers got a big break in the offseason when Falmouth was reclassified to Class A. On the slopes, the Clippers expect to do great things.

The boys return state scorers Grout (fifth in the giant slalom, 20th in the slalom), Smith (21st GS) and Keegan (41st slalom). Eddy, Highland and Woodbury also have experience and hope to move up. Last year, Yarmouth's title hopes were done in by the slalom. This year's group looks to be more consistent and a much higher state finish is likely.

On the girls' side, the Clippers are defending yet another title, but will miss graduated two-time Class B skimeister and Winter Female Athlete of the Year Becca Bell. Lockwood (seventh in the slalom, ninth in the giant slalom) is the top returner. Hornney (10th GS) and Dorsett (19th slalom) also scored last year. Primeau is ready to move up the standings, while freshman Erin Chandler is highly touted. Yarmouth has to be viewed as the favorite once more and will be a top threat at the league and state levels.

NORDIC

COACH: Bob Morse (30th year)

2010-11 Results:

(BOYS) 2nd @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) Class B state champions

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Jackson Hall (Junior), Chester Jacobs (Junior), Thomas Sullivan (Junior), Jack Elder (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Leah Bevins (Senior), Caitlin Crawford (Senior), Laurel Hurd (Senior), Phoebe Walsh (Senior), Sarah Becker (Junior), Olivia Conrad (Junior), Tara Humphries (Junior)

COACH'S COMMENT: “The girls' team has a lot of veteran skiers returning to try to defend their title. The team also has a strong group of young skiers to help keep the upperclassmen honest. The boys are hungry to defeat Caribou which beat us last year by five points. Our three captains and Jack will match up well with most schools' top four. The question is going to be which skiers will rise to pick up the next four slots. We're looking for snow before the 15th.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: While it doesn't appear Morse will get his snow wish, plenty of other things figure to go the Clippers way over the next couple months.

The boys fell just short of a state championship in 2010-11 and hope to finish the job this time. They're led by Elder (runner-up in the freestyle and fifth in the classic last year), Sullivan (third classic, ninth freestyle), Jacobs (sixth freestyle, ninth classic) and Hall (who joins Jacobs and Sullivan as captains). There's plenty of depth on this squad, as always. The team also consists of juniors Graeme Gengras and Michael Smith, sophomores Sam Alexander, Jack Barbera, Braden Becker, Jake Griffin, Jack Taylor and Kyle Thomas, freshmen Carter Hall, Jake Inger, Timothy Pietropaoli, Nick Snow and Panamania exchange student Irving De Gracia. With Falmouth now out of the picture (the Yachtsmen moved up to Class A), the opportunity is there for Yarmouth to get back to its top perch. Don't bet against this group's ability to finish the job.

On the girls' side, two-time Class B skimeister and Winter Female Athlete of the Year Becca Bell has graduated, along with team leader Ali Totta, but there's plenty of talent in reserve. Becker (fifth in both the classic and freestyle at last year's state meet), Crawford (sixth in the freestyle) and Humphries (eighth in the classic) make up a solid core. Hurd and Walsh join Crawford as captains. They have experience, as does Bevins. The squad also includes juniors Alex Lucas and Emma Pidden, sophomores Madison Hynes, Katrine Laukli and Emma Peterson and newcomers Gabrielle Beaulieu, Simone Laverdiere, Lauren Lucas, Sarah Meyers, Annie Oneill, Hannah Potter, Bianca Roberts, Caitlin Teare, Ellie Teare and Madeline Christie. This group is once again highly touted and for good reason. It's quite likely the Clippers will have more celebrations in store come February.

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

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Senior Jocelyn Davies looks to score in the jumps and sprints this winter.f

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Junior Tom Robichaud is one of Yarmouth's top distance runners.

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Senior Lucas Davis is a top jumper and sprinter for the Clippers.

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Max Watson had a strong freshman campaign and looks to do more of the same as a sophomore.

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Junior Mark Brown is a scoring threat for the Clippers this season.

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Junior Red DeSmith is back in goal this winter.

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Senior Maddy Wood will be in the middle of the action this winter.

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Sophomore Grace O'Donnell is an up-and-comer for the Clippers.

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Senior Chris Knaub looks to follow up his Fall Athlete of the Year performance on the pitch with more excellence on the hardwood.

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Sophomore David Murphy is an emerging star for the Clippers.

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Junior Sydney Sperber will be a threat in the mile and two-mile this season.