Michael's Top Five Portland 2009 Fall Stories:

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5) Portland football enjoys run to playoffs

After two years devoid of postseason football, the Portland Bulldogs returned to form in 2009. After losing to Deering and Bonny Eagle to start the year, Portland’s offense came to life behind junior Imadhi Zagon and the Bulldogs won four straight. After a loss at eventual regional champion Windham, Portland rallied from 20-points down to edge South Portland 36-33 in the regular season finale. Then, in the Western A quarterfinals at Bonny Eagle, the two-time defending state champion, the Bulldogs had the Scots on the ropes, but went down to a 25-19 defeat on a late Bonny Eagle TD. Don’t be surprised if Portland is a factor once again in 2010.

4) Waynflete girls’ cross country does it again

Despite losing standout Adele Espy to graduation, the Waynflete girls’ cross country team didn’t miss a beat this fall. That’s largely due to the addition of two new runners who turned heads from start to finish. Freshman Martha Veroneau and senior Amy Allen (who came over from soccer) both enjoyed tremendous individual success and helped the Flyers finish strong as a team. After Waynflete was second at the regional meet, Veroneau came in first and helped the Flyers win their third straight Class C team state title. This powerhouse is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

3) Cheverus field hockey almost beats the champs

Cheverus’ field hockey team enjoyed its finest season yet. The Stags won their first 13 games, including a palpitating overtime win over Gorham. Then, after a close loss to undefeated Scarborough in the regular season finale, Cheverus downed Sanford and Gorham to set up a regional final showdown at Scarborough. The Stags stunned those on hand by taking a 2-1 lead on a pair of rockets from junior Emily Sawchuck and almost went up by two late in the first half, but the Red Storm answered with a goal just before halftime, then scored in the second half to win 3-2 and keep Cheverus out of the state final. Perhaps next year the Stags will finish the job.

2) Cheverus football reaches regional final

The Cheverus football team, now in its fourth season under the direction of legendary coach John Wolfgram, was expected to contend in 2009, but the Stags wound up doing much, much more. A quarterfinalist last fall, Cheverus won six of eight regular season games this time around and earned the No. 4 seed for the Western A playoffs. After blanking No. 5 Biddeford 21-0 in the quarterfinals, the Stags went to undefeated and top-ranked Thornton Academy and absolutely pummeled the Golden Trojans, 36-7. Cheverus enjoyed a 6-0 halftime lead at Windham in the regional final, but the Eagles put together one nice scoring drive in the third period, added the extra point and miserable conditions limited the Stags’ offensive potency from there. The season ended just shy of a first state game appearance since 1985, but next year, all eyes will be back on this team.

1) Cheverus girls’ cross country makes history

Entering the cross country state championships Nov. 7, no Cheverus girls’ team in any sport had captured a title. That changed with a vengeance when sophomore sensation Emily Durgin led the Stags to an easy first-place team finish. Cheverus was the dominant team throughout the season and saved its best for the biggest meets. If winning states wasn’t enough, the Stags went on to place fifth at New Englands, setting a new standard for Maine teams. With Durgin and some other talented runners returning in 2010, Cheverus will look to double its championship total.