Taylor Rinaldi turned heads as a freshman and this winter, she and her teammates hope to qualify for the playoffs.
More photos below.
COACH: Bill Ridge (first year)
2014-15 record: 0-18 (no postseason)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jack Davenport (Senior), Eli Fox (Senior), Brady Lafrance (Senior), Nate Pelletier (Senior), Connor Dostie (Junior), Ethan Sclar (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 9 WAYNFLETE, Dec. 30 GRAY-NG, Jan. 2 MARANACOOK, Jan. 5 @ Waynflete, Jan. 7 @ Lake Region, Jan. 9 @ Yarmouth, Jan. 18 @ Cape Elizabeth, Feb. 2 @ Gray-NG, Feb. 4 LAKE REGION
COACH’S COMMENT: “We’re coming off a tough season, but we have nine seniors on the roster and several underclassmen to help out. We’ve won a couple preseason games and have gotten better. We’re getting rid of our bad habits. We have good experience, but we have to learn how to win a close game. We want to compete and have confidence. We want to go into the second half of the season as a contender for a playoff spot.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Freeport has nowhere to go but up this winter and a familiar face will help the Falcons on their climb back to competitiveness. Ridge has turned the school’s baseball program into a formidable foe. The former assistant basketball coach at Cheverus and teacher at Freeport Middle School has a veteran group to work with, one that has potential, but needs to learn how to win.
Davenport was ninth in scoring (15.3 points per game) in the Western Maine Conference last year. He’s battling back from a collarbone injury, but once healthy, will be a top forward. He’s joined by Dostie and Pelletier. Sclar is the point guard. Lafrance (a top scoring option) and Fox are guards to watch.
The Falcons will be able to compete with many of the foes on their new schedule (reclassification has changed the whole landscape of Maine basketball), they just have to get a victory, then a second and success could mushroom from there. This is a team that could be the feel-good hit of the season and possibly even make a run at a playoff berth if all goes well.
COACH: Mike Hart (second year)
2014-15 record: 2-16 (no playoffs)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Kayla Belanger (Senior), Jess Wall (Senior), Jessie Gray (Junior), Regan Lynch (Junior), Megan Cormier (Sophomore), Taylor Rinaldi (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 9 @ Waynflete, Dec. 30 GRAY-NG, Jan. 5 WAYNFLETE, Jan. 7 @ Lake Region, Jan. 9 YARMOUTH, Jan. 18 CAPE ELIZABETH, Feb. 2 @ Gray-NG, Feb. 4 LAKE REGION
COACH’S COMMENT: “The kids are responding well. We have a lot of returning players. We’re getting to the point where what I wanted to implement last year is coming into focus. We’re not starting from ground zero this year. The kids committed to working all summer and we’re anxious to get things going. I like this group a lot. I’m excited about our depth. We want to make that second season this year. We have work to do and I think the kids are up to the challenge.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Last winter, Hart took over the program on the eve of the season and the Falcons had to proceed the best they could. This year, Freeport is starting from a much better place and with several talented returning players, the Falcons expect to contend in a new-look Class B South.
Rinaldi had a terrific freshman season, leading the team in scoring. She’s back as a guard/forward and will be a difficult challenge for any defense. Cormier also had a solid freshman campaign, finishing second on the squad in scoring. She’ll be a force down low. Lynch, a power forward, is a top rebounder and finished third on the team in scoring last winter. Wall, who missed time last year with a knee injury, is back healthy and will also be a factor in the paint. Belanger, the team leader in assists last season, will run the offense with help from sophomore Johanna Marlowe. Gray is another guard to watch and sophomore Jessi Driscoll will make an imposing front line even deeper. The pieces are in place for good things.
Like the boys’ squad, Freeport’s girls need to win a few games and gain confidence. If the Falcons do so, they have what it takes to make a run at a .500 record and even a playoff berth. This squad could be in for a quantum leap up the standings.
COACH: Brian Berkemeyer (ninth year)
(BOYS) Tie-21st @ Class B state meet
(GIRLS) Tie-21st @ Class B state meet
(BOYS) Erik Brobst (Senior), Chandler Vincent (Senior), Max Heathco (Junior), Henry Jaques (Junior), Chandler Wyman (Junior)
(GIRLS) Hannah Schnyder (Senior), Maddie Squibb (Senior), Mikaela Fleenor (Junior), Emily Latulippe (Junior), Patricia Dupere (Sophomore)
COACH’S COMMENT: “We have the largest team ever this year. We have a solid core of senior leadership with a very large freshman group. We should be able to improve on our finishes from last year. As always, we’ll look to put together some top relay teams.”
FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Freeport has a lot of athletes to rely on this winter and that should spell a strong season.
The boys return Brobst, Jaques and Vincent from a sixth-place 4×800 relay team. Those three figure to excel again in the distance races. Wyman is a top sprinting threat. Heathco hopes to score in the shot put. Freshman Nick Mitch will make his presence felt in the sprints. Look for the Falcons to turn some heads when they compete against bigger programs in the regular season and for them to produce some magic in February.
On the girls’ side, Schnyder scored as an individual (seventh in the 800) and as part of a fifth-place 4×800 relay team (which also included Squibb) last season. Schnyder will be a top distance runner, while Squibb hopes to score in the 400. Dupere (hurdles, 200), Fleenor (sprints) and Latulippe (sprints) also return. This group has enough firepower to move up at the big meets.
(BOYS) 2nd @ Class B state meet
(GIRLS) 3rd @ Class B state meet
COACH: Jay Thomas (third year)
(BOYS) 2nd @ Class B state meet
(GIRLS) 6th @ Class B state meet
(BOYS) Isaac Salisbury (Senior), Griffin Agnese (Sophomore)
COACH’S COMMENT: “I’m looking forward to rebuilding the boys’ team after graduating a strong group of seniors. I’m hoping to have a scoring girls’ team. I have one returning and a couple others.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Freeport has a small team, but always seems to be a top competitor. That should continue this winter even with the Falcons moving into Class A.
The boys will miss Ryder Bennell and Blake Enrico, but Agnese and Salisbury should be in the mix. Freshmen Liam Grogan and Aaron Rusiecki add depth. This team will make the most of its numbers and should produce a lot of strong results in the weeks to come.
On the girls’ side, Wynne Cushing graduated and will be missed. Sophomore Kaia Williams returns and is joined by a couple other girls, but at press time, it wasn’t clear if Freeport would have enough to score as a team. Regardless, look for the girls who do take part to give their all throughout the season.
COACH: Joel Hinshaw (14th year)
(BOYS) 2nd @ Class B state meet
(GIRLS) 2nd @ Class B state meet
(BOYS) Nate Smail (Senior), Bennett Hight (Junior), Yacob Olins (Junior)
(GIRLS) Lily Johnston (Senior)
COACH’S COMMENT: “The boys have six returning juniors who showed a lot of strength last year. I’m excited to watch them this year as they will be a force, pushing each other to do better and challenge all other teams in the Western Maine Conference. The girls will be a very young team, with only two upperclassmen. The freshmen and sophomore skiers have a lot of talent and as they grow, they will be a very powerful team.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Freeport has a small Nordic team, but does have some skiers to watch.
The boys return state meet scorers Hight (third in the skate and sixth in the classic last year) and Olins (sixth in the skate and seventh in the classic). Smail also has experience. This group will consistently improve in the weeks to come and could be formidable by February.
On the girls’ side, Johnston is the top returner. She was third in the classic and fourth in the freestyle a year ago. There are several new skiers who look to make a mark. If so, the Falcons will remain one of the best teams around.
Senior Kayla Belanger is a four-year varsity player for the Falcons.
Junior Regan Lynch is another key returner for the Falcons.