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Southern edition Spring Coaches of the Year

Sports

Southern edition Spring Coaches of the Year

Boys' Team

ANDY STROUT, CAPE ELIZABETH TENNIS

Long synonymous with the state's most storied program, Strout got the Capers back to the pinnacle this spring.

He figured out a way to best utilize his lineup, got past two-time defending champion Falmouth and added yet another shiny piece of hardware to the school's trophy case, earning The Forecaster's nod as our Southern edition Coach of the Year, of a boys' team, in the process.

Strout is a product of Cape Elizabeth through and through. He graduated from the high school in 1975 after playing soccer and tennis and serving as the athletic trainer for basketball. After playing soccer and tennis at Springfield College, Strout started coaching boys' soccer in town in 1977 and two years later, took over the tennis program (coaching both the boys' and girls' teams for many years).

Strout turned both Capers tennis squads into powerhouses and entering the 2013 season, was closing in on 500 victories and had 23 state titles to his credit.

Those numbers ballooned this spring.

Cape Elizabeth made a quick statement with a 4-1 win at Falmouth and never looked back, winning all 12 of its matches, none by less than a 4-1 margin.

As the No. 2 seed, the Capers made the regional playoffs their playground, sweeping past Spruce Mountain, Falmouth and York, then blanking Mt. Desert Island for the state title.

"This year, it was more managing than coaching," Strout said. "The kids had a goal in mind. For the seniors, it's been their goal since winning freshman year. Falmouth was in the way the past two years."

Strout, who now has 505 wins and 24 championships (14 with the boys' squad, 10 with the girls' team) to his credit, also teaches physical education in the school district, owns a farm right around the corner from the high school and spends time on the water lobstering. 

He simply loves working with kids.

"You can have more of an impact with an individual sport like tennis," Strout said. "I like coaching."

Strout figures to have several years left leading the Capers to great things. Who knows? Maybe 600 victories is a possibility.

The Cape Elizabeth boys' tennis program, as it has been for more than three decades, remains in a great hands. Andy Strout, our Southern edition boys' team Coach of the Year, has created and maintained a dynasty and there's no end in sight.

Previous winners:

2012: Chris Hayward (Cape Elizabeth baseball)

2011: Craig MacDonald (Scarborough tennis)

2010: Ben Raymond (Cape Elizabeth lacrosse)

2009: Jim Cronin (Scarborough baseball)

2008: Joe Hezlep (Scarborough lacrosse)

2007: Craig McDonald (Scarborough tennis)

2006: Tobey Farrington (Scarborough lacrosse)

2005: Dave Weatherbie (Cape Elizabeth track)

2004: Todd Day (Cape Elizabeth baseball)

2003: Ben Raymond (Cape Elizabeth lacrosse)

2002: Andy Strout (Cape Elizabeth boys' tennis)

Girls' Team

TOM GRIFFIN, SCARBOROUGH SOFTBALL

Scarborough won the Class A title this spring, only losing once in the process, but the season did produce challenges. Luckily for the Red Storm, Griffin was able to push the right buttons and lead his charges to another crown.

From moving Marisa O'Toole to the leadoff spot, to putting the ball in the left hand of Alyssa Williamson to making sure the lineup was stacked from top to bottom, Griffin had the Midas Touch and as a result, is once again The Forecaster's choice as our Southern edition Coach of the Year, of a girls' team.

Griffin has a rich athletic background. His father was a pitcher in the Braves' organization. Griffin grew up in Portland and starred in baseball and basketball at Deering High. He went on to pitch as a reliever at the University of Maine.

Griffin first got involved with coaching when he helped current University of Southern Maine baseball coach Ed Flaherty coach the Deering baseball squad. He also coached girls' basketball at Deering before coming to Scarborough in 1990, when it was far from the juggernaut we now know.

It didn't take long for Griffin to turn the then-Redskins into a powerhouse and they won the Class B championship in 1997 and finished state runner-up a year later.

By 2002, Scarborough was known as the Red Storm and had moved up to Class A for the postseason. After a series of playoff heartbreaks, Scarborough finally broke through in 2007, did so again in 2009 and once more in 2011.

After being upset by South Portland in the 2012 regional final, the Red Storm turned to a tried and true recipe this season, a preseason trip to Disney, followed by a state title run in an odd numbered year.

Even though Scarborough won its first six games (by a combined margin of 60-14), not everything was running smoothly and the Red Storm was then upset by Sanford. With a big assist from his captains, Griffin got the team refocused and made the most of the immense talent not just in the field, but on his bench as well. As a result, Scarborough ran off nine straight wins to end the regular season and once again earn the top seed in Western A.

Through five innings of the quarterfinals, however, the Red Storm was in trouble, trailing unheralded No. 9 seed Marshwood, 1-0, but O'Toole sparked a rally with a bunt hit and Scarborough erupted for five runs to advance. The pitching and hitting of Williamson led the Red Storm past Thornton Academy in the semifinals and after an O'Toole homer tied it, Scarborough rallied past Sanford in the regional final, 5-2. The state game against Skowhegan proved to be a coronation, as O'Toole opened the game with a long ball and the Red Storm never looked back, winning its fifth championship, giving Griffin his mind-boggling 358th victory.

"I'm awful proud of the kids," Griffin said. "We were always confident in our ability to score runs. We're very strong 1 through 9. The back end of my lineup was phenomenally productive. We had to work hard on becoming a team and put aside distractions. It's a credit to our captains, Grace (Farnkoff), Erin (Giles) and Marisa. They made a commitment to making it happen."

Griffin, who has taught sixth and seventh grade health at Scarborough Middle School for over 25 years, lives in Scarborough with his wife Mary. The couple has three children, including former Red Storm ace, Kelsey, who served an assistant this past year.

Scarborough has become the state's softball gold standard. The patience, leadership and decision making of Tom Griffin, our Southern edition girls' team Coach of the Year, is a huge reason why.

Previous winners:

2012: Jeff Perkins (Cape Elizabeth lacrosse)

2011: Marcia Wood (Scarborough lacrosse)

2010: Ralph Aceto (South Portland softball)

2009: Ralph Aceto (South Portland softball)

2008: Tom Griffin (Scarborough softball)

2007: Tom Griffin (Scarborough softball)

2006: Joe Henrikson (Cape Elizabeth softball)

2005: Jim Hartman (South Portland softball)

2004: Susan Ray (Cape Elizabeth tennis)

2003: Tom Griffin (Scarborough softball)

2002: Jack DiBiase (South Portland softball)

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