An autumn of triumph and thrills
Maybe it's hyperbole or being lost in the moment, but it's quite likely that the autumn of 2013 brought more high school sports drama to Forecaster Country than any in memory.
Great games, scintillating individual performances and compelling themes were too numerous to count, but here's an effort to do so.
All three football teams made the playoffs and Scarborough and South Portland engaged in a game for the ages during the regular season.
Soccer has long been this area's calling card and once again, local teams excelled.
Cape Elizabeth's girls won their first championship since 1999. Scarborough had another very strong team, but wasn't able to defend its state title.
Scarborough had no peer on the boys' side, repeating as Class A champion. Cape Elizabeth, Greater Portland Christian School and South Portland also made the playoffs.
Scarborough's field hockey team continued to be the gold standard in Western A, winning a fourth regional championship in six seasons, but the Red Storm again had no answers for the Skowhegan juggernaut at states. Cape Elizabeth posted its best record in over a decade.
Cross country saw the dominance of Cape Elizabeth's boys' team continue, as the Capers repeated as Class B champs. Scarborough was the best in Western A, but couldn't quite go the extra mile at states. Individuals from all three schools competed at the New England championships.
Cape Elizabeth's golf team was runner-up in Class B.
Last, but certainly not least, volleyball created headlines, as Scarborough went undefeated for 16 matches before finally falling at states. Cape Elizabeth had its best season to date and South Portland was competitive in its first varsity campaign.
Like it or not, it's time to move on to winter sports, but first, here's one last look at the champions and top stories of the 2013 fall season.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Parade of champions
Cape Elizabeth girls' soccer (Class B)
Cape Elizabeth boys' cross country (Class B)
Scarborough boys' soccer (Class A)
Scarborough field hockey (Western A)
Scarborough boys' cross country (Western A)
Michael's Top 5 stories
5) Cape Elizabeth boys' cross country repeats
They wore the bulls-eye all season, but the speedy Capers of Cape Elizabeth once again had no peer. The Capers excelled during the regular season, captured the regional title behind first-place finisher Liam Simpson, then held off talented Ellsworth to win the Class B crown for the second year in a row. It was a complete team effort and the opposition will have to deal with another Cape Elizabeth powerhouse again in 2014.
4) Cape Elizabeth volleyball turns heads
Cape Elizabeth's volleyball program hadn't posted a winning record in its short history, but this fall, the Capers not only won more than they lost, but they were among the very best teams anywhere. Cape Elizabeth fell just twice in the regular season in close matches to Falmouth and Greely, then won a playoff match at Mt. Desert Island to set up a semifinal round match at Falmouth. It proved to be a classic and the Capers almost won it before the eventual champion Yachtsmen rallied to prevail in five games. Cape Elizabeth put itself on the map and will look to finish the job next fall.
3) Scarborough boys win another
It's becoming an annual rite of fall, the Scarborough boys' soccer team celebrating another Class A state title. This time around, it didn't come easily, as the Red Storm dropped an early season game to Portland, then was tested by Gorham in the semifinals. In the state game, Scarborough trailed by a goal late against Hampden Academy, but managed to tie the score, then won another Gold Ball in overtime when junior Sam Ware buried a gorgeous shot. For the second year in a row and fifth time since 2004, the Red Storm was the best team in Class A. There will be more championships in the future.
2) Cape Elizabeth girls make history
Cape Elizabeth's girls' team hadn't won a title since 1999, but that drought came to a close earlier this month. The Capers came into the season as the favorite and didn't disappoint, going 11-2-1 in the regular year. As the top seed in Western B, Cape Elizabeth handled Poland and Freeport, then avenged a regular season loss with a win over Greely in the regional final. The explosive and balanced Capers then got a battle from Waterville in the state game, but managed to eke out a victory in penalty kicks. While a special senior core will graduate, Cape Elizabeth will return several terrific younger players in 2014 as it looks to win it again.
1) Double OT, 115 points, Wow
The Scarborough and South Portland football teams haven't met often over the years, but did they ever make up for lost time on the night of Oct. 11. The Red Storm, behind standout senior quarterback Ben Greenberg, looked as if it was bound for easy victory when it led, 27-6, at halftime, but the Red Riots, behind a prolific offense led by senior quarterback Duncan Preston, roared back to tie the score at 27-27 in the third period. Twice in the fourth period, Scarborough went back on top by a touchdown, but each time, South Portland answered, sending the game to overtime tied at 42-42. Each team scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion in OT, so it was on to a second extra session, where the Red Riots went ahead for the first time. After South Portland appeared to lock up the victory with a fumble recovery, only to have it reversed in controversial fashion, Scarborough got a fourth down touchdown run from Dan LeClair and a two-point conversion run from Chris Cyr to win the instant classic, 58-57. It's safe to say we won't see another game like that for a long, long time.