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South Portland Red Riots Fall Sports Previews

Sports

South Portland Red Riots Fall Sports Previews

South Portland had some memorable performances last fall. This time around, the Red Riots are hoping for even more success. Football is coming off its best season in a decade and expects to make another playoff run. The boys’ soccer team has produced some solid regular season records and this time around, hopes to earn a win in the postseason. The girls’ soccer squad is looking for a return to the playoffs. Field hockey hopes to bounce back and be a competitor. Both cross country teams have solid runners and will be heard from at the conference, regional and state levels. Golf welcomes a new coach and looks to contend.

FOOTBALL

COACH: Steve Stinson (eighth year, 21-38 overall record)

2011 Results: 7-3 (Lost, 20-15, to Thornton Academy in Western Class A semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Ryan Ely (Senior), Conner MacVane (Senior), Cody Munson (Senior), Liam Rottkov (Senior), Joey DiBiase (Junior), Marcus Mainit (Junior), Duncan Preston (Junior), Jordan Susi (Junior), Hayden Owen (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Aug. 31 (H) WINDHAM, Sept. 14 (H) CHEVERUS, Oct. 6 (H) SANFORD, Oct. 12 @ Deering, Oct. 20 (H) PORTLAND

COACH’S COMMENT: “We’re building on last year. Our numbers are good. We did lose nine starters. It’s a young group, but talented. A fun group to coach. I’m excited about Duncan. He’s the first legitimate dual threat quarterback we’ve had. He can run and throw. The strength of our team is the returning linemen. We’re solid up front. That gives us a fighting chance. We know we'll have challenges, but if we get better, we’d like to have a winning season, win the (Battle of the) Bridge and get into the playoffs.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland woke up the echoes in 2011, posting its best record since 2000 and winning a playoff game for the first time since that season before falling one play short at Thornton Academy in a palpitating semifinal. That success earned Stinson league and Forecaster Coach of the Year honors. The core of that squad graduated, however, so the Red Riots will have work to do if they want to remain among the elite. They feel they're up to the task. A new-look offense will feature Preston at quarterback, as a running and throwing threat. His receiving targets include Mainit, Owen, Susi and sophomore Matthew Stearns, who was hurt last season. When Preston isn't running or throwing, he'll hand the ball off to DiBiase and MacVane. Ely, Munson and Rottkov anchor the offensive line. Defensively, South Portland will rely on Ely, Munson and Rottkov (who made the all-conference defensive first-team in 2011) on the line, linebackers Mainit and MacVane and DiBiase, Owen, Preston, Stearns and Susi in the secondary. The Red Riots have returned to their winning ways and this proud program wants to build on last season. South Portland has several tough games on the schedule, but benefits by playing most of them at Martin Memorial Field. It will take some time, but this team will get much better between now and October. If the Red Riots can get into the playoffs for a third year in a row (something which hasn't happened this century), they would be a team that no one will want to face.

BOYS' SOCCER

COACH: Bryan Hoy (sixth year, 43-27-7 overall record)

2011 Record: 10-3-3 (Lost, 2-0, to Gorham in Western Class A quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Ben Burkey (Senior), Damjan Draskovic (Senior), Caleb Elsemore (Senior), Adam Helmke (Senior), Ryan Pelletier (Senior), Danny Fox (Junior), Ben Michaud (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 1 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 18 (H) DEERING, Sept. 20 @ Windham, Sept. 24 (H) KENNEBUNK, Oct. 2 @ Gorham, Oct. 4 (H) CHEVERUS, Oct. 11 @ Portland

COACH’S COMMENT: “We are going to have a very interesting season. We lost 12 seniors from what was probably the best team South Portland has seen in quite some time. That is not to say this team won't be competitive, we're just young and inexperienced. The talent is there, but it remains to be seen if we can come together as a varsity team. Our defense will be our strength. Ben should be one of the top netminders in the conference. On offense, Damjan is going to be a threat to all teams. Our biggest question is in the midfield. We expect to be very competitive yet again. With a young team, it may take some time for players to adjust to the speed and physicality of varsity soccer, but we're confident by the end of the season, we'll be ready to make some noise in the playoffs.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Hoy has done a superb job of turning this program into one of the SMAA's best. This year, even with a lot of new faces, the Red Riots seek to do something the past two talented teams couldn't do, get past the quarterfinals. Graduation indeed hit hard as standout Nem Kaurin, four-year starter Akiba Davis, goalkeeper Shawn Shannon, all-star Nate Fox and nine others departed. This season, Draskovic, a second-team all-star after scoring six goals and assisting on nine others in 2011, will lead the offensive charge. A four-year starter at striker, he'll be one of the most feared players in the conference. Senior Dillon Burns and freshman Ahmed Suja could also figure into the scoring mix. The midfield holes will be filled by Danny Fox, Pelletier and sophomore Andrew Whipple. The defense features returning starters Elsemore, Helmke and Michaud. Junior Calvin Cronin and freshman Brady Cyr (who will also see time at midfield) add depth. Burkey replaces Shannon in goal. At 6-foot-5, Burkey is a great athlete who has soccer experience at other positions. The Red Riots will get a quick idea of where they stand when they host perennial powerhouse Scarborough in the opener Saturday. While matching the win total of the past two teams might be difficult, by October, this South Portland could be every bit as good. The Red Riots will remain a factor all season and are quite capable of going on a playoff run.

GIRLS' SOCCER

COACH: Andy Pappas (seventh year, 38-46-6 overall record)

2011 Record: 6-7-2 (Lost, 3-0, to Windham in Western Class A preliminary round)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jenacee Bradbury (Senior), Jenna Wing (Senior), Emma Dennison (Junior), Shae O'Brien (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Aug. 31 @ Scarborough, Sept. 20 (H) WINDHAM, Sept. 22 @ Deering, Oct. 2 (H) GORHAM, Oct. 10 @ TA

COACH’S COMMENT: “We lost some key players, but still have a solid core from last year. Our team should be competitive in most games. Our younger players should make some contributions. I think we'll be tough physically. We look to be above .500.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland reached its goal of making the playoffs in 2011. This season, the Red Riots look to win more than they lose and perhaps stay longer in the postseason. Those goals appear reasonable. Bradley was a second-team all-star last season. She'll help pace the squad and will likely be a top scorer. Dennison, O'Brien and Wing will be factors as well. Sophomore Emma Russell is new in goal this year. Her skill and athleticism will help the team. South Portland has a tough opener, at Scarborough, but should be able to compete with everyone in the tough conference. If the team develops as hoped, it will be in the running come October. A first playoff win since 2008 might be the end result.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Leslie Dyer (second year, 2-12 overall record)

2011 Record: 2-12 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Elizabeth Albert (Senior), Lani Edwards (Senior), Jaclyn Salevsky (Senior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 1 @ Westbrook, Sept. 5 (H) PORTLAND, Sept. 11 @ Marshwood, Sept. 15 @ Gorham, Sept. 17 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 25 @ Cheverus, Sept. 29 (H) SANFORD, Oct. 3 (H) DEERING

COACH’S COMMENT: “This year, we're focusing on improvement all across the field. We are working on personal goals such as communication, small stick skills and one-on-ones. My players worked hard all summer and we will come out stronger than last year. We hope to show improvement from last year.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland hopes to get back in the playoff hunt this fall and has some promising building blocks. Albert and Salevsky return to pace the offense. A couple of new midfielders, senior Danica Gleason and freshman Maddie Hasson, will give the squad some depth. Edwards is back in goal. She's seen her share of shots and will stand tall. After a year of transition, the Red Riots are ready to compete. If they can get some consistent offense and gain some early confidence, look out. This squad is on its way back and the 2012 campaign will be the first step.

CROSS COUNTRY

COACHES:
(BOYS): Dave Kahill (first year)

(GIRLS): Karen Reardon (10th year)

2011 Results:
(BOYS) 3rd @ Class A state meet
(GIRLS) 10th @ Class A state meet

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS
BOYS: Eddie Apricopoai (Senior), Joe Feely (Senior), Colton Gervais (Senior), Dan Hodgkins (Senior), Max Knutsen (Senior), Jim Merkel (Senior), Ryan Tuttle (Senior)
GIRLS: Jackie Merrill (Senior), Nyajock Pan (Senior), Angela Tirabassi (Senior), Emma Jordan (Junior), Casey Kelley (Senior), Maya Letourneau (Junior), Ariana Mohammad (Junior), Lauren Magnuson (Sophomore), Kendra McKenzie (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cheverus, Massabesic, Scarborough, Windham boys; Bonny Eagle, Cheverus, Massabesic, Windham girls

COACH KAHILL’S COMMENT: “The seniors lead this hard-working, fun, and determined squad. Developing depth with the new runners this year will be a key for the team success. All of the team members are hungry to improve and they have great camaraderie and support for one another with personal and team goals.

COACH REARDON’S COMMENT: “We have a good core of 15 girls. It’s a good mix of talent. There will be a lot of potential for the top seven spots. I think we can be as competitive as last year, if not more. We’ve got key ingredients to compete. A good No. 1 and others who can bring the team together.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both South Portland cross country teams had a strong 2011 campaign and will build on that this season.
The boys are now coached by Kahill, who has coached the indoor and outdoor programs since the 2007-08 school year. Kahill, a decathlete, ran indoor and outdoor track at Bowdoin. He welcomes returning state meet scorers Tuttle (33rd) and Knutsen (41st). Tuttle was a second-team league all-star in 2011. Apricopoai, Feely, Gervais, Hodgkins and Merkel provide leadership. Juniors Dan Jordan and Jack Salamone have experience. Sophomores Cam Andrews, Jacob Guay, Kam Harper and Kevan Marrow look to play a bigger role. The team also welcomes sophomore Michael Cuesta and freshmen Jon Bagley, Cam Brown, Thomas Hodgkins and Ryan O'Riordan. The Red Riots should again be among the best teams in the SMAA and have the ability to do damage at the big October meets.
On the girls' side, reigning Fall and Winter Female Athlete of the Year Pan leads the way. Pan came in fifth at last year's state meet and was named to the all-state team. She's joined by state meet scorers Mohammad (65th), Magnuson (78th) and McKenzie (87th) to make up a strong front four. Kelley, Merrill and Tirabassi also have experience. Jordan and Letourneau add depth. New senior Erin Bogdanovich, South Portland's softball standout and Spring Female Athlete of the Year, is an intriguing addition. Her athleticism could lead to great things. Junior Cree West is also new to the team, as are freshmen Cecilia Howard, Casey Loring (who recently ran the Beach to Beacon) and Ciera Mullin. Pan might have no peer in Class A, while the Red Riots as a team have the pieces in place to make it to the state meet for the fourth year in a row and possibly finish in the top five for the first time in a decade.

GOLF

COACH: Tom Hyland (first year)

2011 Results: 0-10 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Derek Tannoia (Senior), Griffin Henderson (Sophomore), Jackman Mickiewicz (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cheverus, Falmouth, Scarborough

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have 12 players. We’re building for next year. The newcomers should contribute to the top six. We have to turn things around. We want to win some matches this year.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland has a new coach this year in Hyland, well known locally for his talented basketball playing sons and as the Red Riots' boys' tennis coach. Hyland is an avid golfer and wanted to try coaching golf. He teaches English and history in the school's alternative program. Hyland takes over a team looking to bounce back and contend, even though it's in a brutally tough division, which includes state champion Falmouth and potential powerhouses Cheverus and Scarborough. Tannoia has experience. Henderson and Mickiewicz have also played before. Senior Tanner Hyland and freshman Matt Pelletier are new to the squad and will help the cause. The win-loss record might not reflect it, but look for South Portland to show steady improvement over the season and to position itself for a jump up the standings in 2013.

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

Photo: File photo

Sophomore Hayden Owen should play a bigger role this season.

Photo: File photo

Junior Joey DiBiase will handle the ball on a regular basis this autumn.

Photo: File photo

Senior captain Adam Helmke will help anchor South Portland's defense this fall.

Photo: File photo

Senior Damjan Draskovic is a top returning scorer for the Red Riots.

Photo: File photo

Junior Emma Dennison is a top returner this fall.

Photo: File photo

Senior captain Ryan Tuttle and his teammates are looking to build on last year's stellar results.

Photo: File photo

Senior Angela Tirabassi is another top returner for South Portland.

Fall Schedules

FOOTBALL

Fri., Aug. 31 H WINDHAM

Fri., Sept. 7 @ Biddeford

Fri., Sept. 14 H CHEVERUS

Fri., Sept. 21 @ Kennebunk

Sat,. Sept. 29 @ Massabesic

Sat., Oct. 6 H SANFORD

Fri., Oct. 12 @ Deering

Sat., Oct. 20 H PORTLAND

BOYS' SOCCER

Sat., Sept. 1 H SCARBOROUGH

Tues., Sept. 4 H MASSABESIC

Thurs., Sept. 6 @ Biddeford

Tues., Sept. 11 @ Westbrook

Sat., Sept. 13 @ Sanford

Tues., Sept. 18 H DEERING

Thurs., Sept. 20 @ Windham

Mon., Sept. 24 H KENNEBUNK

Thurs., Sept. 27 @ Bonny Eagle

Tues., Oct. 2 @ Gorham

Thurs., Oct. 4 H CHEVERUS

Tues., Oct. 9 H TA

Thurs., Oct. 11 @ Portland

Tues., Oct. 16 H MARSHWOOD

GIRLS' SOCCER

Fri., Aug. 31 @ Scarborough

Wed., Sept. 5 @ Massabesic

Sat., Sept. 8 H BIDDEFORD

Thurs., Sept. 13 H WESTBROOK

Sat., Sept. 15 H SANFORD

Tues., Sept. 18 @ McAuley

Thurs., Sept. 20 H WINDHAM

Sat., Sept. 22 @ Deering

Tues., Sept. 25 @ Kennebunk

Fri., Sept. 28 H BONNY EAGLE

Tues., Oct. 2 H GORHAM

Wed., Oct. 10 @ TA

Fri., Oct. 12 H PORTLAND

Tues., Oct. 16 @ Marshwood

FIELD HOCKEY

Sat., Sept. 1 @ Westbrook

Wed., Sept. 5 H PORTLAND

Fri., Sept. 7 H MASSABESIC

Tues., Sept. 11 @ Marshwood

Thurs., Sept. 13 @ Kennebunk

Sat., Sept. 15 @ Gorham

Mon., Sept. 17 H SCARBOROUGH

Wed., Sept. 19 H MCAULEY

Tues., Sept. 25 @ Cheverus

Thurs., Sept. 27 H BIDDEFORD

Sat., Sept. 29 H SANFORD

Mon., Oct. 1 @ Windham

Wed., Oct. 3 H DEERING

Sat., Oct. 6 @ Noble

BOYS' CROSS COUNTRY

Fri., Sept. 7 @ Massabesic (Scar)

Fri., Sept. 14 H GORHAM, KBUNK

Fri., Sept. 21 @ Windham (Noble)

Fri., Sept. 28 @ Westbrook (Sanford, TA)

Fri., Oct. 5 @ Biddeford (BE, Marsh)

Fri., Oct. 12 @ Deering (Chev, Portland)

Sat., Oct. 20 Western A Regionals

Sat., Oct. 27 Class A States

GIRLS' CROSS COUNTRY

Fri., Sept. 7 @ Scarborough (Mass)

Fri., Sept. 14 H GORHAM, KBUNK

Fri., Sept. 21 @ Windham (Noble)

Fri., Sept. 28 @ Westbrook (Sanford, TA)

Fri., Oct. 5 @ Biddeford (BE, Marsh)

Fri., Oct. 12 @ Deering (Chev, McA, Portland)

Sat., Oct. 20 Western A Regionals

Sat., Oct. 27 Class A States

GOLF

Thurs., Aug. 30 H DEERING

Tues., Sept. 4 H PORTLAND

Thurs., Sept. 6 @ Scarborough

Mon., Sept. 10 H CHEVERUS

Thurs., Sept. 13 @ Deering

Wed., Sept. 19 @ Portland

Thurs., Sept. 20 H SCARBOROUGH

Tues., Sept. 25 @ Cheverus

Wed., Sept. 26 @ Falmouth

Thurs., Sept. 27 H FALMOUTH