Deering Rams 2011 Fall Sports Preview

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There’s plenty of new at Deering High this fall as football and boys’ soccer have new coaches. There’s also a new athletic director in Melanie Craig. Football fell one point shy of playing for a championship in 2010 and even after losing a special talent at quarterback, will be one of the best teams in Western A. Boys’ soccer hopes to get to the playoffs this fall. The girls’ team, with some young talent, hopes to build on its postseason berth of a year ago. Field hockey has nowhere to go but up and should improve quite a bit. Both cross country teams have qualifying for the state meet as a legitimate goal. Then there’s golf, which is always on the short list of Class A championship contenders. With two standout seniors leading the way, that team hopes to bring home a crown.

FOOTBALL

COACH: Jon Gallant (first year)

2010 Record: 8-3 (Lost 35-34 to Cheverus in Western Class A Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Nick DiBiase (Senior), Matt Flaherty (Senior), Renaldo Lowry (Senior), Alex Stilphen (Senior), Trey Thomes (Senior), Kenny Sweet (Junior), Tyler Wiggins (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 9 @ Windham, Sept. 23 (H) PORTLAND, Sept. 30 (H) THORNTON ACADEMY, Oct. 6 @ Scarborough, Oct. 14 @ Bonny Eagle, Oct. 21 (H) CHEVERUS

COACH’S COMMENT: “Things are coming along. We’re getting there, trying to find our identity. We absolutely have the same offensive approach. Our strength is our skill players. We have a lot of speed. Our goals are to have a winning record, to be the best team in the city of Portland and to host a playoff game.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: It’s a new football era at Deering this fall after Greg Stilphen stepped down after 14 years. Stilphen turned the Rams’ program into a perennial championship contender, led Deering to the 2003 Class A title and steered last year’s squad to within a point of playing for another championship. The other big departure is that of Jamie Ross, the standout quarterback, now at Sacred Heart. While the Rams might have a new look in 2011, they’ll still be on the short list of top contenders under new coach Gallant, who played at Massabesic and the University of Maine and served as an assistant coach under Stilphen (earning the SMAA’s Assistant Coach of the Year award in 2010). Flaherty will step in under center and should help Deering keep its high powered ways going. The Rams will move the ball on the ground behind DiBiase and Thomes. Lowry (a Cumberland County Offense all-star in 2010) is as dangerous a wideout as you’ll find. The speedster is capable of taking any reception all the way to paydirt. The line is paced by Alex Stilphen (another reigning all-star) and Wiggins. Deering projects to score a lot of points. The defense should be solid as well. On the line, Stilphen will wreak havoc. DiBiase and Wiggins key the linebacking corps. In the secondary, Lowry, Sweet and Thomes will provide solid coverage and look to pick off the opposing signal caller. The Rams still have plenty of skill, speed and athleticism. Don’t be surprised if this group has a chip on its shoulder as it isn’t considered a favorite by many. If Flaherty can quickly get comfortable in his new role, Deering will once again be a force. One that will achieve its goals and look to finish the job that last year’s team started.

BOYS’ SOCCER

COACH: Joel Costigan (first year)

2010 Record: 5-8-1 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Edgar Gonzalez (Senior), Jamie Gullbrand (Senior), Mohamed Hassan (Senior), Brandon Saucier (Senior), Anthony Verville (Senior), Nathan Finberg (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 6 (H) WESTBROOK, Sept. 8 @ Portland, Sept. 13 @ Gorham, Sept. 20 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND, Sept. 27 @ Scarborough, Oct. 4 (H) KENNEBUNK, Oct. 13 (H) CHEVERUS

COACH’S COMMENT: “We are very strong this year at goalkeeper. I was very impressed with our play this summer. We’re very deep and are playing intelligent soccer. The group that was handed down to me by Andy LeFebvre is a wonderful group. They’re very coachable and are responding very well to the ideas I’m bringing to the program. I believe we have some of the top players in the SMAA. That, combined with our team chemistry, I think we can make a very strong bid as one of the top teams in Western Maine. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people this year.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Deering sprung one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 season, when it shocked Scarborough. That win wasn’t enough to get the Rams into the playoffs, however. This season, Andy LeFebvre has been replaced as coach by Costigan, who has coached with the Narragansett United, Velocity and ODP premier programs and also at Bonny Eagle. He takes over a program that could be poised to produce a winning record and make the playoffs. Even though standouts Charlie Dupee (Deering’s 2010 Fall Male Athlete of the Year) and Isaac Wipfler have departed, ample talent remains. Gonzalez, Hassan and Saucier will pace the offense. Finberg and Verville anchor the defense in front of Gullbrand, a second-team all-star last autumn, who should be one of the better goalies in the league. Freshman Stephen Ochan is expected to make a mark as well. While Deering won’t be ranked with the preseason favorites, it will prove difficult for every foe. The Rams took some positive strides last fall. All signs point to them being even better in 2011 and getting to the postseason.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

COACH: Kevin Olson (sixth year)

2010 Record: 8-7 (Lost 1-0 to Cape Elizabeth in Western A preliminary round)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Georgia Hutchins (Senior), Veronica Mitchell (Senior), Alexis Sivovlos (Senior), Lindsey Sneider (Senior), Sam Regios (Junior), Chelsea Saucier (Junior), Alexis Elowitch (Sophomore), Edie Pallozzi (Sophomore), Cole Spike (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 14 (H) GORHAM, Sept. 22 (H) THORNTON ACADEMY, Oct. 1 @ McAuley, Oct. 7 (H) WINDHAM, Oct. 14 (H) CHEVERUS, Oct. 18 @ Sanford

COACH’S COMMENT: “I’m hoping to be competitive within our league. We have been working very hard so far and are a very focused group. We want to continue improving each and every day. The team dynamics are great and we want to build on what we have developed already.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Deering has been a very competitive team the past few years and this autumn, hopes to become even more of a factor in a very talented Western Class A. This group has a nice mix of experience and promising youth and has a lot to be excited about. Sivovlos is a top scoring threat. Mitchell plays in the midfield, with Saucier, who has played in her share of big games between soccer and basketball. Hutchins and Sneider anchor the defense. Elowitch, Pallozzi and Spike all had breakout freshmen campaigns and look to be even better in 2011. Freshmen Courtney Brett and Meaghan Wells hope to follow their lead this autumn. Sophomore Leanne Downs will replace Jen Lynch in goal. This time around, the Rams aren’t just hoping to make the playoffs, but to stay for awhile. The future is very bright for this squad.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Marcia Wood (second year)

2010 Record: 0-13-1 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Tori Adams (Senior), Sara Brink (Senior), Jamie Hunt (Senior), Emily Hyman (Senior), Regina Pardi (Senior), Caley Presby (Senior), Kiana DiBiase (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 6 (H) CHEVERUS, Sept. 14 (H) MCAULEY, Sept. 20 (H) WESTBROOK, Sept. 26 (H) PORTLAND, Oct. 4 @ Scarborough, Oct. 6 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND, Oct. 12 @ Gorham

COACH’S COMMENT: “The team is very excited and eager for this season. Some of them have worked very hard in offseason to improve their skills. Last year, we were getting used to each other and the level of varsity play, so this year with all that out of the way, we are focused on improving each game and working together as a team. With 14 seniors on this team, they really want to end on a high note and I feel that is a realistic goal. Caley is an all-conference goalie and she anchors the defense, she’s a strong competitor and can really keep us in some games. The forwards are very eager to score some goals this year, so I’m excited to see what they can do and how they can improve from last year. ”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Deering (and its new coach) took its lumps in 2010, but there are reasons to believe that this season will be much kinder to the Rams. For starters, the offense should flow, where a year ago, it was a struggle. Adams, Hyman and newcomers Lauren Blinsinger (a senior transfer from Portland) and sophomore Amanda Lemoult will look to rattle the cage. Brink and Hunt are stalwarts in the midfield. Defensively, DiBiase and Pardi hold the fort in front of the talented Presby, who was an SMAA first-team all-star selection last year after making 246 saves. Presby will keep Deering in every game and probably win a few for the Rams. If Deering can get off to a good start and gain some confidence, it could be in for a quantum leap. The wins will come this autumn. If all goes well, they’ll come in abundance.

CROSS COUNTRY

COACHES:

(BOYS) Dick Kress (fifth year)

(GIRLS) Gerry Myatt (ninth year)

2010 Results:

(BOYS) no score @ Class A state meet (10th @ regionals)

(GIRLS) no score @ Class A state meet (10th @ regionals)

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS:

(BOYS) Tom Dean (Senior), Sean Perry (Senior), Gabe Turner (Senior)

(GIRLS) Ella Ramonas (Senior), Nyalet Biliew (Junior), Isabel Handanos (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cheverus, Scarborough

COACH KRESS’ COMMENT: “We have three goals: to increase the number of runners, be competitive in the regular season and qualify for states. Our No. 1 runner and captain graduated, but most of last year’s team returns which means we should be improved. The team needs to stay injury-free and improve conditioning throughout the season to be successful.”

COACH MYATT’S COMMENT: “We’re a little shallow in numbers, but I hope a couple girls will join us when school starts. States is always our goal. We didn’t peak at the right time last year. I think we’ll be solid enough. We should have a reasonable pack.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both Deering cross country squads have their sights set on getting to states in 2011.

The boys return Perry (who was 21st at last year’s regional meet and just missed qualifying for states as an individual), Turner (31st) and Dean (44th). If some other runners can support that core, the Rams will be a force in the regular season and should be able to improve on last year’s regional performance, perhaps earning a state meet berth as a result.

On the girls’ side, Ramonas leads the way. She was 26th at the regional meet a year ago, was named to the league’s all-star team and is also an outdoor track standout in the 800. Biliew was 62nd at last year’s regional meet and could move up. Handanos hopes to make an impact. Several new girls provide depth and promise. Seniors Julia Kang and Maddie Ostwald both came over from soccer. Junior Carina Flores ran track a year ago and hopes to impress in cross country. Senior Katryna Gilson (a basketball player) and juniors Sarah Gardner, Doris Juarez and Laura Tran will also be in the mix. Ramonas should be one of the region’s best. If the others can step up and create a formidable pack, Deering will be one of the better teams in the league and will qualify for the state meet.

GOLF

COACH: Billy Goodman (10th year)

2010 Results: 9-0-1, Northern Division champion (3rd @ Class A state match)

TOP RETURNING PLAYER: Rocco Spizuoco (Senior), Joe Walp (Senior)

TOP FOES: Cheverus, Falmouth

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have two top players and a lot of kids without varsity experience. I need the kids with no experience to get better and we’ll try to compete for the division. We hope to qualify for states. We’re not deep, but we’ll battle.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Deering hoped to win it all a year ago, but it wasn’t to be. While the Rams boast arguably two of the state’s best players this autumn, they’ll need assistance for a championship run. Spizuoco (75 at the team state match, 77 at the individual championships) and Walp (77 at the team competition, 80 as an individual) are as good a twosome as you’ll find. Both standouts were SMAA first-team all-stars in 2010. The graduated Matt Bevilacqua and Cooper Nadeau will be missed, but junior Dan Ruhlin and sophomore Will Barlock will look to fill their shoes. With the addition of defending Class B Falmouth to Class A this year, along with the presence of the likes of Cheverus, Gorham, Scarborough and Thornton Academy, Deering’s road to a title has gotten that much tougher. Regardless, the Rams will be in every match and should boast another impressive regular season mark. If all goes well at states, Spizuoco and Walp will dazzle and they’ll get enough support to put Deering over the hump. You can never write this program off.

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

Senior Renaldo Lowry is a big-play receiver for the Rams.

Senior Trey Thomes is a dangerous runner for the high-powered Deering offense.

Junior Kenny Sweet will play a big role on Deering’s defense this year.

Junior Tyler Wiggins is a hard-hitting linebacker for the Deering defense.

Senior Tom Dean is a top runner for the Deering boys’ cross country team.

2011 schedules

FOOTBALL

Fri., Sept. 2 H NOBLE

Fri., Sept. 9 @ Windham

Fri., Sept. 16 @ Kennebunk

Fri., Sept. 23 H PORTLAND

Fri., Sept. 30 H TA

Thurs., Oct. 6 @ Scarborough

Fri., Oct. 14 @ Bonny Eagle

Fri., Oct. 21 H CHEVERUS

BOYS’ SOCCER

Sat., Sept. 3 H MASSABESIC

Tues., Sept. 6 H WESTBROOK

Thurs., Sept. 8 @ Portland

Tues., Sept. 13 @ Gorham

Thurs., Sept. 15 H NOBLE

Tues., Sept. 20 H SP

Thurs., Sept. 22 @ Biddeford

Tues., Sept. 27 @ Scarborough

Sat., Oct. 1 @ TA

Tues., Oct. 4 H KENNEBUNK

Thurs., Oct. 6 @ Windham

Tues., Oct. 11 @ Marshwood

Thurs., Oct. 13 H CHEVERUS

Tues., Oct. 18 H SANFORD

GIRLS’ SOCCER

Sat., Sept. 3 @ Massabesic

Wed., Sept. 7 @ Westbrook

Fri., Sept. 9 H PORTLAND

Wed., Sept. 14 H GORHAM

Sat., Sept. 17 @ Noble

Thurs., Sept. 22 H TA

Sat., Sept. 24 @ SP

Wed., Sept. 28 H SCARBOROUGH

Sat., Oct. 1 @ McAuley

Wed., Oct. 5 @ Kennebunk

Fri., Oct. 7 H WINDHAM

Tues., Oct. 11 H MARSHWOOD

Fri., Oct. 14 H CHEVERUS

Tues., Oct. 18 @ Sanford

FIELD HOCKEY

Wed., Aug. 31 @ Windham

Tues., Sept. 6 H CHEVERUS

Thurs., Sept. 8 H BIDDEFORD

Mon., Sept. 12 @ Kennebunk

Wed., Sept. 14 H MCAULEY

Fri., Sept. 16 @ Sanford

Tues., Sept. 20 H WESTBROOK

Thurs., Sept. 22 @ Bonny Eagle

Mon., Sept. 26 H PORTLAND

Wed., Sept. 28 @ Noble

Tues., Oct. 4 @ Scarborough

Thurs., Oct. 6 H SP

Wed., Oct. 12 @ Gorham

BOYS’ CROSS COUNTRY

Fri., Sept. 9 @ Westbrook (Kbunk, Marsh)

Fri., Sept. 16 H MASS, TA, WINDHAM

Fri., Sept. 23 @ Sanford (Bidd, Scarb)

Wed., Sept. 28 @ Bonny Eagle

Fri., Oct. 7 @ Gorham (Noble)

Fri., Oct. 14 @

Sat., Oct. 22 Western A Regionals

Sat., Oct. 29 Class A States

GIRLS’ CROSS COUNTRY

Fri., Sept. 9 @ Westbrook (Kbunk, Marsh)

Fri., Sept. 16 H MASS, TA, WINDHAM

Fri., Sept. 23 @ Sanford (Bidd, Scarb)

Wed., Sept. 28 @ Bonny Eagle

Fri., Oct. 7 @ Gorham (Noble)

Fri., Oct. 14 @ McAuley

Sat., Oct. 22 Western A Regionals

Sat., Oct. 29 Class A States

GOLF

Thurs., Sept. 1 @ Cheverus

Tues., Sept. 6 @ Scarborough

Thurs., Sept. 8 @ Portland

Mon., Sept. 12 H FALMOUTH

Wed., Sept. 14 H SP

Mon., Sept. 19 H CHEVERUS

Wed., Sept. 21 H SCARBOROUGH

Fri., Sept. 23 H PORTLAND

Tues., Sept. 27 @ Falmouth

Thurs., Sept. 29 @ SP

Sidebar Elements


Senior Nick DiBiase is a top running threat for Deering.

More photos below.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.