Deering Rams Fall Sports Preview

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Senior Rob Dacey and his Deering football teammates hope to build on last year’s resurgent season. The Rams are chasing Bonny Eagle and two-time defending Class A state champion Thornton Academy in a challenging region.

More photos below.

FOOTBALL

Coach: Jason Jackson (second year)

2015 record: 6-3 (Lost, 20-19, to Bonny Eagle in Class A South semifinal) 

Top returning players: Rob Dacey (Senior), Nate Richards (Senior), Raffaele Salamone (Senior)

Pivotal games: Sept. 9 @ Sanford, Sept. 16 @ Thornton Academy, Sept. 30 @ Bonny Eagle, Oct. 14 @ Edward Little, Oct. 21 SCARBOROUGH

Coach’s comment: “We lost a lot of seniors, but we hope to build on last year. We’ll run a similar offense to last year with a few wrinkles. It’ll be running back by committee. We just want to compete and get better as the season goes on and make the playoffs. We want to establish consistency.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering’s program is back on track after Jackson (our Coach of the Year last fall) established much needed stability. The Rams were terrific on the field in 2015, winning six games and almost upsetting Bonny Eagle in the quarterfinals. Graduation took several key contributors, including reigning Fall Male Athlete of the Year Max Chabot, but Deering has enough firepower to build on last year.

Replacing Chabot under center will be junior Joe Pelletier. Richards will also see some time at quarterback. The running back by committee includes Dacey (69 carries, 337 yards, 3 TDs in 2015), Richards (34-242-3) juniors Isaiah Anthony and Caysey Anthony (19-92-2) and sophomore Ben Trefethen. Senior JC Butera (who will also handle kick returns), senior Mason Kaserman and Salamone (4 receptions, 65 yards, 1 TD last season) will be the top receiving threats. Richards (11-241-3) will also see some time at receiver. On the line, juniors Keegan Stanton and Blaize Vail lead the way.

Deering expects to be strong on defense too. Up front, look for both Anthonys and Salamone (a league all-star last season) to set the tone. Stanton and Vail are linebackers to watch. In the secondary, Dacey, Kaserman, Richards and Trefethen will make life difficult for the opposition. The defense will be hard hitting and opportunistic. 

The Rams won’t be able to sneak up on anyone this fall, but they won’t need to. Deering has plenty of talent. It’s just a question of fine tuning it in the weeks to come. The Rams do have the misfortune of being in the more challenging region of Class A and they’ll have to find a way to solve the two preseason favorites, Bonny Eagle and Thornton Academy. If there’s a squad capable of springing an upset or two against those powerhouses in the playoffs, it’s Deering.

BOYS’ SOCCER

Coach: Joel Costigan (sixth year, 46-23-8 overall record)

2015 record: 7-6-2 (Lost, 1-0, to Westbrook in Class A South preliminary round) 

Top returning players: Ezra Chapola (Senior), Orey Dutton (Senior), Jonata Mbongo (Senior), Robert Ochan (Junior), Iessa Ramadan (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 2 @ Scarborough, Sept. 6 @ South Portland, Sept. 22 GORHAM, Oct. 13 CHEVERUS, Oct. 18 PORTLAND

Coach’s comment: ”We’re looking good. Were working on principles of attack and defending and hoping it translates to good stuff. If we can stay disciplined with our game plan and stay a unit, we’ll be a top contender. We have the best chemistry I’ve seen scoring-wise.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering has now posted winning records in four consecutive seasons and has made the playoffs five years running. This fall, the Rams are hoping for a deeper run and they have the pieces in place to be a special team.

The offense will be led by Ramadan, whose speed and skill make him a matchup nightmare. Juniors Nick James and Bill Turahimbawe will also be heard from when it comes to putting the ball in the net. Deering should be solid on the defensive end too, as Chapola, Mbongo and Ochan all return. Dutton made some big saves in goal last autumn and will see time again, but senior Mustafa Kadhim will also get an opportunity between the pipes.

The Rams will get an early barometer of how good they are when they open at perennial powerhouse and nemesis Scarborough, then play at a South Portland squad which made the semifinals last year. There aren’t many easy games on the docket, but Deering has enough talent to go toe-to-toe with everyone. Look for the Rams to post another good record and if this group stays healthy and comes along as hoped, they’ll be in position come playoff time to make a run. A second trip in three years to the semifinals is a distinct possibility.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

Coach: Kevin Olson (11th year, 73-64-15 overall record)

2015 record: 9-6-1 (Lost, 3-0, to Scarborough in Class A South quarterfinal) 

Top returning players: Phoebe Bell (Senior), Meghana Clere (Senior), Abby Elowitch (Senior), Leinani Farnsworth (Senior), Sophie Silva (Senior), Ewka Varney (Senior), Darrah Scott (Junior) 

Pivotal games: Sept. 2 SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 16 @ Sanford, Sept. 24 @ Gorham, Sept. 28 WINDHAM, Oct. 5 @ Marshwood, Oct. 11 @ Thornton Academy, Oct. 14 @ Cheverus, Oct. 18 PORTLAND

Coach’s comment: “This team is young, but has a great core of veterans to guide them. We hope to be competitive within the league, make the playoffs, and then see what happens from there.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering has been very consistent of late, posting winning records in each of the past four seasons and making it to the playoffs seven years running. This fall, the Rams should be right in the hunt again.

While the loss of top scoring threat and reigning Deering Fall Female Athlete of the Year Simone Lauture will be felt, the Rams should still be formidable on offense behind a balanced attack featuring midfielders Elowitch, Scott and Varney. Junior Candy Odhiambo and freshmen Kiaya Gatchell and Mia Sargent will also be in the scoring mix. Defensively, Bell and Silva (honorable mention all-stars in 2015) and Farnsworth make up a strong unit in front of Clere (who will also see some time at forward) or senior Tina Dang in goal.

Deering will be tested from its opener against Scarborough right through the finale versus Portland. The Rams do have the pieces in place, however, to post another winning record and position themselves to be a thorn in some team’s side come the postseason. This is a squad that will only get better in the weeks to come and could be a dangerous foe in late October.

FIELD HOCKEY

Coach: Aimee Burgos (first year)

2015 record: 6-9 (Lost, 1-0, to Westbrook in Class A South preliminary round)

Top returning players: Lillian Frager (Senior), Chiara Thurston (Senior), Josephine Tifiano (Senior)

Pivotal games: Sept. 1 @ Thornton Academy, Sept. 7 @ Scarborough, Sept. 13 @ Portland, Sept. 19 @ Massabesic, Sept. 27 MARSHWOOD, Sept. 29 CHEVERUS

Coach’s comment: “With only 18 girls, we will train hard, play as one unit and give it our all each game. The three senior captains bring such a positive and dynamic climate to our group and I cant wait to see them lead their team this season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Last fall, Deering got to the playoffs for the second year in a row and third time in four seasons. The Rams then graduated a lot of key contributors and have a new coach this autumn as Burgos, formerly Liz Koharian’s assistant, takes over. Burgos also coaches Deering’s girls’ lacrosse team and teaches at Lyman Moore Middle School. She inherits a squad that hopes to contend for another tip to the postseason.

Frager is a top returner and captain who is solid in goal. Thurston is another captain who will anchor the defense. The Rams will be strong in the midfield. Sophomore Alyssa Staples, a transfer from Portland, and freshmen Elizabeth Drelich and Aleah Murphy, will lead the way. Senior forward and captain Josephine Tifiano hopes to rattle the cage.

Deering is in a tough league, but should be competitive against most of the teams it faces. This is a group that should steadily improve and if all goes well, another trip to the playoffs could result.

VOLLEYBALL

Coach: Larry Nichols (second year)

2015 record: 7-7 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Kaylee Helmick (Senior), Cindy Hoang (Senior), Zainab Mayoof (Senior), Avery Donovan (Junior)

Pivotal matches: Sept. 2 @ Bonny Eagle, Sept. 6 PORTLAND, Sept. 20 CHEVERUS, Sept. 22 @ South Portland, Oct. 11 @ Windham, Oct. 15 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach’s comment: “I have a good crew. Last year was a learning experience for us and now the kids really love volleyball and have been playing on their own. We have good numbers. Last year, we tried to beat the new teams and play as well as possible against the upper echelon. We played better than we were supposed to. This year, we’re shooting for the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering was a revelation as a first-year program, easily exceeding even the most optimistic projections and just missing out on a playoff spot. In year two, the Rams know that nothing will come easily and that they won’t be able to sneak up on any foe. Regardless, this squad should be able to hold its own again.

Helmick was a second-team SMAA all-star in 2015 and moves from setter to hitter this season, while also being a server extraordinaire. Donovan was an honorable mention all-star last fall. She’s in the middle and will be formidable at the net. Hoang is another top hitter and Mayoof is the libero. Three newcomers will help the cause. Sophomore Maddy Broda transfers over from Cheverus. She’s very skilled and will be the setter. Junior Kristal Gonzalez will also see time at setter and junior Diana Dervis, a transfer from Thornton Academy, will be an outside hitter.

Most of Deering’s schedule consists of fellow new programs, but there are some heavy hitters waiting at the end. If the Rams can build on last year’s momentum and earn some early victories, they might just finish what the 2015 squad started and punch their playoff ticket.

CROSS COUNTRY

Coaches:
(Boys) Frank Myatt (fifth year)
(Girls) Gerry Myatt (14th year)

2015 results:
(Boys) 5th @ Class A state meet
(Girls) no score @ Class A state meet (11th @ regionals)

Top returners:
(Boys) Musa Abdi (Senior), Masho Gebremikael (Senior), Abdikadir Abdirahman (Junior), Yahya Nure (Junior), Alec Troxell (Sophomore)
(Girls) Bridget Fears (Senior), Evelyn Randazzo (Senior), Violet Sulka-Hews (Senior), Morgan Aponte-Clark (Junior), Julia Lancia (Junior), Lucy Tumavicus (Junior), Nicole Whipkey (Junior), Grace Tumavicus (Sophomore)

Coach Frank Myatt’s comment: “Our numbers are good this year. The best I’ve seen. Depth will be a strong suit. Last year, we had a solid pack mentality. Those guys developed well in indoor and outdoor. We want to build off last year’s success. Expectations are high.”

Coach Gerry Myatt’s comment: “We have six scorers coming back. We’re experienced. If we can stay healthy, we should do well. States is always the big goal. If we can buckle down on the tough courses, I think we’ll be OK.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Both Deering track teams project to be strong all season.

The boys posted their best state meet finish in 11 years last season, then graduated their top state meet finisher, Abdi Hassan (who was 13th), but plenty of firepower remains and there are some key additions. Troxell (30th last season), Abdirahman (41st), Abdi (49th) and Nure (50th) also scored in 2015. They look to improve upon those finishes this fall. Gebremikael is another experienced runner. Five new runners: senior Jacob Tosi, juniors Cameron Andrews and Peter Jordan and sophomores Jose Bay-Cheng and Jerry Mixangelo provide plenty of depth. The Rams will be among the best teams in the league and could produce another high finish at states.

On the girls’ side, after missing states as a team the past two seasons, Deering is ready to take it to the next level. Grace Tumavicus qualified for states as an individual a year ago and posted the 19th-best time. She’ll be one of the top runners in the league again. Returning scorers from last year’s regional meet include Whipkey (39th), Lancia (70th) and Lucy Tumavicus (89th). Aponte-Clark and Sulka-Hews also have experience and Fears and Randazzo are seasoned leaders who have run for four seasons. Senior Lucy Tabb, who was in Europe last year, returns to the team to add more depth. Deering will steadily improve with an eye on being at its best in late October.

GOLF

Coach: Billy Goodman (15th year, two state championships)

2015 results: 3-6 (DNQ for Class A state match)

Top returners: Alex McGonagle (Junior), Luke Hill (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We only have seven kids total, so we’ll just try to become better golfers. I look for Alex to qualify for states again and get to another level.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering’s goals are modest this fall, but one player could excel.

The Rams will be led this season by McGonagle, who shot an 85 and tied for 23rd at last year’s individual state match. McGonagle, the lone hard core golfer on the roster, hopes to do even better this season. Hill also shows promise.

Deering is in a tough division and wins and losses aren’t the top priority. Getting better will be the focus and the Rams should show steady improvement in the weeks to come. 

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

Senior Orey Dutton made some big saves a year ago for a Deering boys’ soccer team hoping to be among the best in Class A South this fall.

Sophomore Iessa Ramadan has great speed and skill and projects to score many goals this fall.

Senior Jonata Mbongo will help stabilize Deering’s defense.

Senior Meghana Clere will see time in the field and in goal for a Deering girls’ soccer team looking to make another run to the playoffs.

Junior Darrah Scott will be a top midfielder for the Rams.

Senior Leilani Farnsworth will anchor the Deering defense.

Senior Ewka Varney is another returning veteran for the Rams.

Alec Troxell was 30th at last year’s Class A boys’ cross country state meet as a freshman. He’ll be a formidable runner again this fall.

Grace Tumavicus had the 19th-best time at last year’s Class A girls’ state cross country meet. This fall, the Rams are hoping to qualify for states as a team.

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