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Yarmouth Clippers Winter Sports Preview

Sports

Yarmouth Clippers Winter Sports Preview

After a thrilling 2011-12 winter campaign, Yarmouth is back to steal more headlines this season. Boys' basketball managed to win the school's first state title since 1968 and although it lost some special players to graduation, is again on the short list of contenders. The girls' team enjoyed its best season in years last winter and hopes to keep the wins coming despite a small roster. Boys' hockey is eying the top spot in Class B. The girls' squad enjoyed a spirited playoff run last season and under a new coach this winter, should contend. Both track teams feature recognizable names and top athletes. Both swim squad will do very well in the weeks to come. Then there's skiing, a longtime Yarmouth specialty. The Clippers hope to sweep Class B championships in Alpine, Nordic and combined and have the talent to do so.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Adam Smith (ninth year, 94-63, one state championship)

2011-12 Record:18-4 (Bea tGardiner, 65-53, to win Class B state championship)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Christian Henry (Senior), Chase Hughes (Senior), Adam Wriggins (Senior), David Murphy (Junior), Nathaniel Shields-Auble (Junior), Adam LaBrie (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 13 @ Wells, Dec. 15 (H) YORK, Dec. 18 (H) FALMOUTH, Jan. 5 @ Greely, Jan. 11 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Jan. 15 (H) WAYNFLETE, Jan. 29 (H) GREELY, Feb. 5 @ Cape Elizabeth, Feb. 8 @ Falmouth

COACHS COMMENT: “Other teams might not have expectations of us, but we do. We have experience. The leadership has been good every year. The guys learn from the year before. I'm pleased with that part of the team. We lost three captains, so there's competition for spots. We'll rest our hat early on on our defense until we get scorers. The guys will play well and play hard. The league top to bottom is better than it's been in some time. Every year, we expect to be in the tournament. We can end up anywhere from 5 on down.”

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Yarmouth had a dream season in 2011-12, capped a marvelous and memorable tournament run. After a solid regular season, there weren't many outside of the Clippers locker room who thought they were title-worthy, but Yarmouth turned its game up several notches for the postseason, drubbed Lincoln and Spruce Mountain and upset rival Falmouth to win the region for the first time since 1974, then rode an early surge to a win over Gardiner in the state final, the school's first title since 1968. The heart and soul of that squad, Butler Award winner and Mr. Maine Basketball semifinalist Josh Britten, league all-star and clutch 3-point shooter Chris Knaub and the speedy and cerebral Sam Torres, have departed, but this program has learned how to reload and behind Smith, our Coach of the Year two years running, who has become one of the best around, can't be overlooked this winter. Replacing Britten's 21.8 points per game will be the biggest challenge and Yarmouth will approach it by committee. Tri-captains Henry and Wriggins have shown an ability to score in the preseason, Murphy will lead the offense at point guard and if he's anything like his older brother, Johnny, won't be shy about shooting, and LaBrie is a special athlete, who will step up even more this season. Sophomore Jordan Brown will likely hit some big shots. Shields-Auble will lead the way inside. He'll be joined by Hughes, a tri-captain, juniors Jackson Bartlett and Ethan Gage (who are both overcoming injuries) and junior Wyatt Jackson, who was a force on the pitch this fall. Junior Liam Mahoney, a transfer from Cheverus, is another option. As always, the Clippers will play strong defense and work as hard as anyone. Look for dramatic improvement from this squad from December to February. Once again, Yarmouth won't be viewed as a title hopeful, but the Clippers don't care. They believe. Overlook them at your own peril.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Jay Lowery (second year, 9-11)

2011-12 Record: 9-11 (Lost, 60-34, to eventual regional champion Lake Region in Western Class B quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: McKenzie Gray (Senior), Tess Merrill (Senior), Monica Austin (Junior), Sean Cahill (Junior), Grace O'Donnell (Junior),  Shannon Fallon (Sophomore), Lane Simsarian (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 10 (H) LAKE REGION, Dec. 13 (H) WELLS, Dec. 15 @ York, Dec. 18 @ Falmouth, Jan. 3 (H) FREEPORT, Jan. 5 @ Greely, Jan. 15 @ Waynflete, Jan. 26 @ Freeport, Jan. 29 (H) GREELY, Feb. 8 (H) FALMOUTH

COACHS COMMENT: “It's going to be a lot of fun. We'll play a different game this year. We'll have to find a way to get better like we did last year. I have athletes. When you have athletes you can make a lot of things happen. I think we'll grow and hopefully be solid. I only had three weeks last year to implement my program. This time, we had summer and preseason. I hope we an knock off a top team. I think we can compete with anybody.

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Yarmouth was one of the biggest feel-good stories of the 2011-12 campaign, improving from one win to nine and making it to the Expo behind the brilliance of Morgan Cahill. Lowery, who was named our Coach of the Year for his first-year effort, now has the challenging task of replacing Cahill's nearly 17 points per game production and imposing presence. It will take a team effort. Down low, Sean Cahill has made some nice strides and will be a force. There are a lot of interchangeable, athletic parts on this roster. Merrill will run the offense as the point guard. She'll be spelled at times by a promising freshman, Annabelle Alvidge, whom Lowery is very excited about. Austin (Yarmouth's Fall Female Athlete of the Year) is looking to be healthy this fall and hopes to have a breakout season. Gray and O'Donnell also have experience. Fallon came on big-time late in her freshman season and she should continue that trend. Simsarian is a tenacious defender who is also blazing fast. Considering the Clippers didn't make a single 3-point shot last season, Yarmouth will have to find a way to score some points from the perimeter to be able to compete with teams in a very deep and balanced league. The Clippers aren't receiving any preseason buzz, but you get the impression that's OK with them. There wasn't any last year either and the season ended at the Expo. Yarmouth will improve mightily over the next couple months and if it can find a way to win enough games, could once again be a darkhorse in February.

BOYS' HOCKEY

COACH: Dave St. Pierre (second year, 12-7-1)

2011-12 Record: 12-7-1 (Lost, 5-2, to Greely in Western B semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Mark Brown (Senior), Red DeSmith (Senior), Kevin Haley (Senior), Sam Landry (Senior), Nick Madrid (Senior), Will Porter (Senior), David Clemmer (Junior), Max Watson (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 13 @ Cape Elizabeth, Dec. 22 @ York, Jan. 3 (H) CHEVERUS, Jan. 8 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Jan. 19 (H) YORK, Jan. 21 @ Greely, Feb. 20 (H) GREELY

COACHS COMMENT: “The league is deep again this season, which should make for plenty of entertaining matches. We have a great group of leaders. Our locker room is loose, but motivated. We're not afraid of putting in the work necessary to take another step. Our senior class has been a strong part of the playoff teams over the past few seasons and looks to continue that trend. We should be strong in net with Red leading the way and if we can establish a grind-it-out mentality, we'll be capable of a strong season.

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Yarmouth is once again a playoff regular, but the Clippers want to take the next step and win the program's first championship since 2002. While defending champion Greely is understandably the preseason favorite, Yarmouth has reason for optimism. While the loss of first-team all-star, Forward of the Year and Evans Spear Award winner Alex Kurtz hurts the offense, there are several forwards ready to fill the void. That list includes Brown, Clemmer, Haley, Porter, junior Isaak Dearden and freshman Patrick Grant. Watson (a second-team all-star last winter) is capable of scoring his share of goals, even though he's a defenseman. Other defenders of note are Landry, Madrid and freshman Walter Conrad, who had a very successful soccer season. DeSmith (honorable mention last season) will see the majority of time in goal. Sophomore Nick Allen and freshman Victor Wakelin will also get some time between the pipes. The Clippers do have a challenging schedule, like always, but don't see Greely until later in the season. If Yarmouth can replace Kurtz's production on offense, it will be very formidable. The goaltending is solid and the work ethic and hunger will be there. The pieces are in place for the Clippers to turn heads.

GIRLS' ICE HOCKEY

COACH: Jeff Haley (first year)

2011-12 Record: 8-12 (Lost, 6-1, to Brunswick in East Region semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Caelainn Costello (Senior), Meredith McLoon (Junior), Ariel Potter (Junior), Katie Brown (Sophomore), Emily Johnson (Sophomore), Michelle Robichaud (Sophomore), Hannah Williams (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 8 @ Greely, Dec. 19 @ Leavitt/EL, Dec. 29 (H) LEWISTON, Jan. 2 (H) BRUNSWICK, Jan. 12 (H) LEAVITT/EL, Jan. 16 @ Winslow, Jan. 25 @ Brunswick

COACH'S COMMENT: “We're a young team, but we're gaining the necessary experience every game. Our captains have great leadership skills and character and take great pride in the team. All have a true understanding and respect of the game. Teams are getting better each year and we hope to be one of them. The road to the playoffs will be challenging. We need to stay healthy and focused if we hope to go deeper in the playoffs than last season.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth stole postseason headlines a year ago, making its deepest playoff run to date. This winter, Haley replaces David Neujahr as coach. Haley was an assistant with the Clippers the past four seasons and previously also served as an assistant with the Yarmouth boys' team. This year's group is off to a promising start, beating St. Dom's and Winslow and tying Cape Elizabeth during a 2-2-1 start. So far, the offense has come from several sources, including Johnson and Robichaud (second-team all-stars last season) and defenders Costello, McLoon and Potter (a first-team all-star in 2011-12). Brown and freshman Breanna Morrill will also be factors on offense. Freshmen Lilly Watson is a new defender to watch. Williams (a second-team all-star last winter) returns in goal. She had two shutouts last season and has kept the Clippers competitive this winter. Yarmouth made great strides last season, which has to be huge for the program's confidence. The Clippers know they can hold their own against most of their foes. Yarmouth has a great shot to improve last year's won-loss record, return to the playoffs and perhaps make some noise once again.

INDOOR TRACK

COACHES: Hank Richards (fourth year)

2011-12 Results:

(BOYS) tie-14th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) No score @ Class B state meet (9th @ WMC Championship meet)

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Ethan Cyr (Senior), Tom Robichaud (Senior), Wes Crawford (Junior), Ben Decker (Junior), Chandler Smith (Junior), Darren Shi (Sophomore)
(GIRLS)
Megan Smith (Senior), Sydney Sperber (Senior), Lily Daggett (Junior), Katie Overhaug (Junior), Fiona Clark (Sophomore), Mary Coyne (Sophomore)

COACH'S COMMENT: “This is the largest team in the history of Yarmouth indoor track. We have 37 boys and 26 girls. There are only five seniors on the team, but our sophomore and junior classes are very talented. I expect some individual bright spots. The overall team success will depend on the emergence of the freshmen and sophomores. Our young runners will have to grow up quick as the league is competitive every week.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: The Yarmouth indoor track program continues to get bigger and better. Both Clippers teams hope to turn heads this winter.

The boys' squad returns state meet scorers Decker (third in the two-mile last year) and Smith (a member of a fourth-place 800 relay squad). Decker will be one of the conference's elite distance runners and will be joined by Crawford and Robichaud. Smith is a top sprinter. Cyr, juniors Travis Hamre and Liam Thompson and freshmen Ethan Peters and Nico Whitlock also sprint. Thompson also competes in the hurdles. On the field side, look for Robichaud (pole vault) and Shi (shot put) to lead the way. This group will be able to hold its own in the conference and should once again score at states, perhaps even in the top 10.

On the girls' side, Coyne could score at states in the sprints. Daggett and Overhaug, along with sophomores Olivia Darnell, Brooke Hornney and Madeline Mitchell and freshmen Annabelle Elvidge and Emma Egan, are other sprinters to watch. Clark and Sperber lead the way in the distance events. Egan also jumps. Darnell will be a top thrower. With Smith, the fourth-place finisher in the pole vault outdoors, sidelined by mono, Daggett hopes to score in that event. Yarmouth has the numbers and talent to make a mark in the conference and to be a force come February.

SWIMMING

COACH: Brian Townsend (fourth year)

2011-12 Results:

(BOYS) 10th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 9th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Evan Coleman (Senior), Conner LaJoie (Senior), Luca Sied (Senior)

(GIRLS) AbbyBelisle-Haley (Senior)

COACHS COMMENT: “We have an experienced team with 11 seniors. I'm hoping to be in the top three at Southwesterns and have at least three in the top three at states.”

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Yarmouth has a small contingent this year, but there is talent.

The boys return LaJoie, who scored in the 200 free relay at last year's state meet. He'll be a threat in the relays and also as an individual. Coleman competes in the freestyle and butterfly. Sied hopes to score in the freestyle and backstroke. The Clippers will be heard from in the weeks to come.

On the girls' side, Belisle-Haley is the top returner. She was runner up in the 200 individual medley and placed fifth in the fly. She could take home top honors this year. Yarmouth will make the most of its numbers to be as competitive as possible as the season progresses.

SKIING

2011-12 Results:

(BOYS) Class B combined state champions

(GIRLS) Class B combined state champions

ALPINE

COACH: Bob Grout (fifth year)

2011-12 Results:

(BOYS) 2nd @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 2nd @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Drew Grout (Senior), Matt Highland (Senior), Ethan Masse (Senior)

(GIRLS)Julia Primeau (Junior)

COACH'S COMMENT: “The boys' team shows great promise and will compete well against every school at states. The girls' lack senior leadership, but will be very strong. If all goes to plan, Yarmouth will repeat as state champs, winning both Alpine and Nordic titles. The athletes are working hard, are in top condition and really want it this year.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Both Yarmouth teams stand to be powerhouses this winter.

The boys return Grout (fourth in the slalom and fifth in the giant slalom last year), Highland (fourth in the GS and sixth in the slalom) and Masse (13th in the slalom). Freshman Tucker Grout is a star in the making. We'll be hearing a lot about him as the season progresses. The Clippers hope to move up a step at states this winter and win another title. Don't bet against them.

On the girls' side, Primeau returns after coming in eighth in the GS and 11th in the slalom at last year's state meet. She's joined by junior Chapin Dorsett, who spent last year at sea. Freshmen Anna Bouton and Cambell Dorsett are other promising skiers to watch. Yarmouth will be a force in the conference and like the boys, could be ready to make the jump back to the top spot.

NORDIC

COACH: Bob Morse(31st year)

2011-12 Results:

(BOYS) Class B state champions

(GIRLS) Class B state champions

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Jackson Hall (Senior), Mike Smith (Senior), Sam Alexander (Junior), Braden Becker (Junior), Jasper Houston (Junior), Carter Hall (Sophomore), Tim Pietropaoli (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Sarah Becker (Senior), Olivia Conrad (Senior), Alex Lucas (Senior), Emma Pidden (Senior), Gabby Beaulieu (Junior), Madison Hynes (Junior), Katrine Laukli (Junior), Ihilia Lesnikova (Junior), Emma Peterson (Junior), Sarah Myers (Sophomore), Caitlin Teare (Sophomore), Ellie Teare (Sophomore), Emma Torres (Sophomore)

COACH'S COMMENT: “The boys' team will be skiing without maybe three of the top skiers in Class B. That being said, we'll depend on our two remaining seniors, four juniors and two sophomores. The team is down in numbers. I think we'll need to stay healthy and work harder on skate skiing, if we plan to repeat. The girls return a strong group of hardworking, dedicated skiers, who know how to mix fun into their training.”

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Yarmouth has some top-notch talent to replace, but weep not for the Clippers, they have the pieces in place to once again make a run at a title.

The boys lost Jack Elder (who won the skate and was second in the classic a year ago), who is skiing at a private ski school this winter. Chester Jacobs and Thomas Sullivan are both unavailable, but Yarmouth does return state meet scorers Becker (runner-up in the freestyle), Carter Hall (third in both the classic and freestyle), Alexander (fourth in the classic, fifth in the skate) and Houston (seventh in the classic). Jackson Hall and Smith bring experience and leadership and Pietropaoli, along with freshmen Henry Becker and Henry Jones, looks to make a mark. The Clippers will steadily improve and should be quite formidable in February.

On the girls' side, the graduation of Caitlin Crawford (third in the skate last year) and the departure to private school of Humphries (second in both events) will hurt, but like the boys, this squad's cupboard is far from bare. Becker was third in the freestyle and seventh in the classic last year and could be even better this winter. Ellie Teare was top 10 in both the classic (fifth) and freestyle (ninth) last season. Lucas (17th in the classic) also scored a year ago. Conrad and Pidden are battle tested. Beaulieu, Hynes, Laukli, Lesnikova and Peterson will be key factors. Myers, Caitline Teare and Torres look to play bigger roles and freshmen Lucy Alexander, Emma Gleason, Meredith Hawkins, Abbi Smith and Lydia Sullivan will all be heard from as the season progresses. Look for this squad to set the pace both in the conference and once again at the state championships.

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Junior Ben Decker will be one of the top distance runners in the conference this year.

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Senior forward Kevin Haley will look to light the lamp with regularity.

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Senior Red DeSmith will again be in goal for the Clippers as he hopes to backstop them to a long playoff run.

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Sophomore Lane Simsarian is a top defender for the Clippers.

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Junior Grace O'Donnell will make her presence felt this season.

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Junior Sean Cahill will be an inside threat for the Clippers.

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Sophomore Shannon Fallon is coming off a strong finish to her freshman campaign and hopes to spark Yarmouth's effort this winter.

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Junior Chandler Smith looks to lap the field in the sprints.