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South Portland Fall Athletes of the Year

Sports

South Portland Fall Athletes of the Year

MALE:

DUNCAN PRESTON, Senior-Football

  • Fitzpatrick Trophy semifinalist

  • SMAA all-star, first-team, quarterback

  • SMAA Dave Allen Award winner (league MVP)

Preston was expected to do great things this fall and he didn't disappoint, using his strong arm, legs and leadership ability to guide never-boring South Portland to the playoffs.

Preston, who was also named the school's Spring Male Athlete of the Year after a strong lacrosse campaign, has really made a mark on the gridiron. The South Portland native started playing football in the fifth grade and joined the Red Riots varsity as a sophomore, when he kicked and played safety. He moved to quarterback as a junior and had several strong performances this autumn.

Preston set the tone in the opener, spearheading a stunning upset of defending state champion Thornton Academy by throwing four touchdown passes and rushing for nearly 150 yards. Preston ran and threw for a TD in a loss to Bonny Eagle, threw two touchdown passes in a come-from-behind win at Sanford, had 172 yards and three TD passes and ran for 68 yards and two more scores in a double overtime instant classic loss at Scarborough, threw for five TDs and almost 300 yards in a win over Massabesic and had 232 passing yards and ran for 95 more in a regular season ending loss at Portland.

South Portland's championship hopes were dashed by Sanford in a 33-32 quarterfinal round playoff loss, but Preston had four more TD passes and ran for another score.

For the season, he completed 61.5 percent of his passes, good for 1,957 yards and 27 touchdowns. He also ran for 815 yards, scoring five times. Combined, Preston produced 2,722 yards of offense and scored 32 touchdowns.

“I'm happy with the season, but I wish it went on forever,” said Preston. “We had fun while it lasted. We had a great offense.”

Preston will throw and jump in indoor track this winter, then hopes to lead South Portland to its first boys' lacrosse title in the spring. He belongs to the American Sign Language club and volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club. He hopes to play football in college and plans on studying athletic training or kinesiology.

It's not easy to live up to the hype, but Duncan Preston, South Portland's Fall Male Athlete of the Year, exceeded it with prolific numbers during a triumphant season.

Coach Steve Stinson's comment: “Duncan combines his incredible athletic ability with an outstanding work ethic. He's worked tremendously hard to develop as an athlete and a quarterback. He directed our effective no-huddle spread offense. He was responsible for communicating play calls, protections and route concepts. He has a high football IQ. His ability to run and throw equally from the quarterback position was the key to our offense. We'll miss his leadership and playmaking ability. I'm confident he'll be highly successful in the future.”

Prior winners:

2012: Damjan Draskovic (Soccer)

2011: Logan Gaddar (Football)

2010: Nem Kaurin (Soccer)

2009: Ryan Curit (Football)

2008: Ryan Chapin (Soccer)

2007: Nick Gaddar (Football)

2006: David Knowland (Cross country)

2005: Endy Carrera (Soccer)

2004: Nolan Moon (Cross country)

2003: Eric Giddings (Cross country)

2002: Eric Giddings (Cross country)

2001: Devin Shaw (Cross country)

FEMALE:

SHANNON CONLEY, Senior—Cross country

  • All-state, first-team
  • New England qualifier
  • SMAA all-star, first-team
  • SMAA All-Academic

Conley spent just one year running cross country for the Red Riots, but did she ever make an impact, overcoming a tough regional meet showing by dominating on the biggest stage of the season.

Conley grew up in South Portland and started running in the sixth grade. She soon became one of the best in the area and had a lot of success at Cheverus, placing fourth in the state as a freshman, sixth (fourth for scoring purposes) as a sophomore and fifth (fourth for scoring purposes) as a junior.

Following that season, Conley returned to her hometown high school and was a force for the Red Riots this fall, winning the Laliberte Invitational and finishing runner-up at the Festival of Champions, where she was the fastest senior girl in a field of over 600. 

The postseason appeared as if it would be one of frustration, however, when Conley failed to finish at the regional meet. South Portland qualified as a team regardless, giving Conley another shot and she made the most of it at the Class A state meet, placing second to Bonny Eagle's Kialeigh Marston in 19 minutes, 40.75 seconds. That showing allowed Conley to take part in the New England championships, where she had the 63rd-best time (19:25.00).

“I was happy with states and New Englands,” said Conley. “I'm very competitive, but I like to have fun too.”

Conley, who belongs to National Honors Society and the World Language Honors Society, Interact and the Latin Club, runs middle distance and distance in both indoor and outdoor track (and has a shot at winning a state title), was first in the 19-and-under age group at last year's Beach to Beacon and is only getting better. She wants to run in college somewhere in New England and study nursing (she volunteers at Maine Medical Center).

She wasn't a Red Riot for long, but Shannon Conley, South Portland's Fall Female Athlete of the Year, was at her best when it mattered most and that will be her legacy.

Coach Karen Reardon's comment: "Shannon has a very good work ethic and put in a lot of time over the summer preparing for the season. She has very high aspirations for herself and will push herself very hard when she races to try and achieve them. She pushes herself on her runs and in the workouts. She helped replace the losses of two of our top three runners from last year and gave Casey Loring a good person to work with. She was only in cross country for one year at South Portland, but she made an impact and helped the team perform well."

Prior winners:

2012: Nyajock Pan (Cross country)

2011: Nyajock Pan (Cross country)

2010: Rebecca Roberts (Field hockey)

2009; Karleigh Bradbury (Soccer)

2008: Annelise Donahue (Cross country)

2007: Annelise Donahue (Cross country)

2006: Kristina Aceto (Field hockey)

2005: Emily Haeuser (Cross country)

2004: Courtney Albin (Soccer)

2003: Christina Aceto (Soccer)

2002: Andrea Giddings (Cross country)

2001: Andrea Giddings (Cross country)

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