Thu, Dec 18, 2014 ●
BathHarpswellTopshamBrunswickCumberlandNorth YarmouthFalmouthFreeportPortlandCape ElizabethScarboroughSouth PortlandChebeague IslandYarmouth

South Portland Red Riots Fall Sports Preview

Sports

South Portland Red Riots Fall Sports Preview

South Portland's fall sports outlook is encouraging. Football should be in the hunt for a playoff spot. Boys' soccer has been a postseason regular in recent years and hopes for a longer stay this time. The girls' squad should also get back to the playoffs. Field hockey is poised for a competitive season. Both cross country teams feature strong runners and have high hopes. Golf will be competitive in a tough division. Last but not least, volleyball is introduced as a varsity program this autumn.

FOOTBALL
COACH: Steve Stinson (ninth year, 23-44 overall record)
2012 Results: 2-6 (no postseason)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Josh Allen (Senior), Joey DiBiase (Senior), Marcus Mainit (Senior), Duncan Preston (Senior), Jordan Susi (Senior), Matt Hammond (Junior), Hayden Owen (Junior), Matthew Stearns (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 6 THORNTON ACADEMY, Sept. 13 @ Bonny Eagle, Sept. 20 MASSABESIC, Oct. 4 @ Sanford, Oct. 11 @ Scarborough, Oct. 25 @ Portland
COACH’S COMMENT: “We're really excited. We had a good preseason. The kids and coaches have done a good job. We have 16 of 22 starters back. We should be competitive. We have good skills on both sides of the ball. The lines need to get better every week. We're in it to win it.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland stumbled a bit in 2012, but is ready to bounce back this fall behind a veteran-laden roster.
Preston is back at quarterback. The school's Spring Male Athlete of the Year should be one of the top signal callers in the conference. He'll look to throw to Owen, Stearns and Susi. Preston also has a new weapon, junior tight end Jaren Muller, last seen helping the basketball team reach the state final for the first time in two decades. Muller will be a matchup nightmare. On the ground, DiBiase and Hammond and will do much of the damage. The line features Allen, Mainit and new junior Ismail Baez.
Defensively, the line includes Baez and Muller. Allen, Hammond and Mainit are a big part of the linebacking corps. In the secondary, DiBiase, Owen, Preston, Stearns and Susi will make opposing receivers think twice before entering their territory.
The Red Riots will get a barometer of where they stand when they host defending champion Thornton Academy in the opener Friday. A strong showing could propel this team to great things. They'll be competitive throughout and will have to play well each week as the region is quite balanced. The offense should put up a lot of points and the defense will make its mark as well. This veteran group hopes to go out with a flourish. South Portland should be able to reach the playoffs for the third time in four seasons and could be one of the best in the west when all is said and done.

BOYS' SOCCER
COACH: Bryan Hoy (seventh year, 51-31-10 overall record)
2012 Record: 8-4-3 (Lost, 2-0, to Noble in Western A preliminary round)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Calvin Cronin (Senior), Danny Fox (Senior), Robert Graff (Senior), Ben Michaud (Senior) Austin Mills (Senior), Henry Curran (Junior), Brady Cyr (Sophomore), Ahmed Suja (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 7 @ Scarborough, Sept. 12 GORHAM, Sept. 26 @ Deering, Oct. 3 PORTLAND, Oct. 8 CHEVERUS
COACH’S COMMENT: “Returning five starters and 10 players total should give us the experience we need to persevere in what looks to be a tough conference. We should have a fast and physical defense. We should be able to provide ample scoring opportunities. Henry could end up being one of the top goalkeepers in the conference. This should be another trip to the playoffs for the Riots.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland has been the picture of consistency under Hoy. After missing the postseason in four straight years prior to his arrival, the Red Riots have now gone to the playoffs six years running. Last year ended in disappointment with a preliminary round loss and this season, South Portland is looking for a long postseason stay.
The loss of all-region and reigning Fall Male Athlete of the Year Damjan Draskovic will be felt, as his playmaking ability is hard to find, but the Red Riots do have an abundance of players who can create offense. Graff and Suja will look to take care of business up front, while midfielders Fox (a captain) and Mills will also be productive. The defense is led by captains Cronin and Michaud, Cyr and sophomore Brian Elsemore. Junior Brian Currie can be plugged in at different spots on the field. Curran replaces all-star Ben Burkey in goal and looks like he could evolve into one of the best in the region.
South Portland faces defending champion Scarborough in the opener Saturday and will quickly learn just how sharp it needs to be. There are many top teams in Western A and the Red Riots will have to be on top of their game every time they take the pitch. This squad has the ability to not just hold its own, but to beat several of the top teams. A sixth straight winning season and a seventh consecutive playoff appearance appear likely. South Portland hasn't been to the semifinals since 1989. That drought could end this season.

GIRLS' SOCCER
COACH: Andy Pappas (eighth year, 43-56-6 overall record)
2012 Record: 5-10 (Lost, 2-1, to Cape Elizabeth in Western A preliminary round)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Bridget Campbell (Senior), Clara Ellis (Senior), Akadia Higgins (Senior), Shae O'Brien (Senior), Sam Munson (Junior), Emma Russell (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 7 @ Scarborough, Sept. 11 THORNTON ACADEMY, Sept. 14 @ Gorham, Sept. 25 @ Windham, Sept. 28 DEERING, Oct. 4 PORTLAND, Oct. 9 @ Cheverus
COACH’S COMMENT: “Last year was a building year where we had growing pains. Ultimately, we almost pulled an upset in the playoffs. This group will build off that game. We have good and smart players at all positions and I think we'll be in every game. Hopefully the close ones from the past few years go our way.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland was the last team to qualify for the Western A playoffs a year ago, then gave a very talented Cape Elizabeth squad fits before falling short by one goal.
The Red Riots graduated all-star Jenacee Bradbury, an offensive standout, but return several players who have been through the battles and are eager to lead the program forward. Munson and O'Brien project to be the top scorers. Higgins could be heard from as well. Campbell and Ellis are lead defenders in front of Russell, who returns in goal. She will be one of the better keepers in the league.
If South Portland can find a way to score consistently, look out, as there are enough athletes on the squad to make for a strong season. A third straight postseason berth is the goal. It's highly attainable.

FIELD HOCKEY
COACH: Leslie Dyer (third year, 5-22-1 overall record)
2012 Record: 3-10-1 (no postseason)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Olivia Indorf (Senior), Kristina Salafia (Senior), Courtney Trufant (Senior), Courtney Pelkey (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 4 @ Gorham, Sept. 6 @ Marshwood, Sept. 10 MASSABESIC, Sept. 16 @ Portland, Sept. 21 @ Scarborough, Sept. 24 @ Windham, Oct. 2 @ Westbrook, Oct. 4 BIDDEFORD, Oct. 16 @ Cheverus
COACH’S COMMENT: “We should be consistent this year and should be on the top end of those close games we've encountered the past few seasons.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland could be the team to make a major jump this season. After three one-goal losses a year ago, the Red Riots don't have far to go to get over the hump and snap a two-year postseason drought.
Pelkey, Salafia and Trufant look to lead the offense. Freshman Lydia Henderson could be a star in the making. Indorf leads the defense in front of senior Hannah Gato, who steps in between the pipes, replacing all-star Lani Edwards.
South Portland will compete with everyone on the schedule this season. Look for the Red Riots to improve on last year's win total and be a squad no one wants to face if they wind up in the postseason.

CROSS COUNTRY
COACHES:
(BOYS): Dave Kahill (second year)

(GIRLS): Karen Reardon (11th year)
2012 Results:
(BOYS) 15th @ Class A state meet
(GIRLS) 6th @ Class A state meet
TOP RETURNING RUNNERS
BOYS: Jon Bagley (Senior), Jacob Guay (Senior), Danny Jordan (Senior), Jack Salamone (Senior), Michael Cuesta (Junior), Kameron Harper (Junior), Gavin Damian-Loring (Sophomore), Thomas Hodgkins (Sophomore)
GIRLS: Casey Kelley (Senior), Maya Letourneau (Senior), Ariana Mohammad (Senior), Lauren Magnuson (Junior), Kyndra McKenzie (Junior), Casey Loring (Sophomore)
TOP FOES Gorham, Marshwood, Massabesic, Scarborough boys; Bonny Eagle, Massabesic, Windham girls 
COACH KAHILL’S COMMENT: “This year's team has a solid base for a successful season with talent, camaraderie and a positive attitude. Our four seniors have been motivated throughout the summer and are great role models. They'll continue to provide leadership for the whole team to improve throughout the season. The underclassmen look to build a core of eight to 10 talented runners who could help us become one of the top teams in the conference.
COACH REARDON’S COMMENT: “We hope to be one of the top teams. We have a great 1-2 punch and need to develop our 3, 4 and 5 to really solidify our position. The good thing is that we have a lot of talent that's capable of stepping into those spots. If we develop the way I think we can, we can be even better than the last couple years, which is saying a lot. It should be interesting and a lot of fun.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both South Portland cross country teams extended their streak of postseason appearances to four a year ago and this fall, the Red Riots are looking to really be a factor throughout.
The boys return four of their five scorers from last year's state meet. Damian-Loring was 37th, while Guay (83rd), Jordan (92nd) and Salamone (93rd) also scored. Hodgkins came in 56th at the regional meet. Bagley, Cuesta and Harper also have experience. Sophomore Jacob Maloney and freshmen Xander Keiter and Steven Smith join the team and provide depth. While South Portland lacks a clear frontrunner, its pack is solid and will keep the team competitive. The Red Riots should get back to the state meet and will make a run at a top 10 finish.
On the girls' side, the team is coming off its best state finish in a decade and even after program stalwart Nyajock Pan graduated, should be even stronger this season, perhaps good enough to be among the elite teams in Class A. The program is bolstered this fall by the addition of junior Shannon Conley, who was fourth at states last season and was named to the all-state team. She transferred in from Cheverus and will once again be a top talent in the league (Conley won the preseason Laliberte Invitational last weekend). She'll combine with Loring, the top returner, to make up a dynamic 1-2 tandem. Loring came in 10th at states last season, qualified for New Englands and made the all-state team as an honorable mention. Loring (fifth at the Laliberte Invitational) is only going to get better, a scary thought for the other teams in the conference. Also returning is state meet scorer Mohammad (51st), a co-captain. Kelley, the other co-captain, Letourneau, Magnuson and McKenzie also have experience. Several newcomers, including promising junior Janey Blackwell-Orr, Abby Donahue, Phoebe Letourneau, Erica Magnuson and Serena McKenzie. This team has top talent at the front and several strong supporting runners. The Red Riots last finished in the top five in the state in 2002. This team could end that drought. They'll be among the best around from start to finish.

GOLF
COACH: Tom Hyland (second year)
2012 Results: 0-10 (no postseason)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Griffin Henderson (Junior), Jackman Mickiewicz (Junior), Matt Pelletier (Sophomore)
TOP FOES: Cheverus, Falmouth, Scarborough
COACH’S COMMENT: “We're young, as we only graduated two of our top six, but we're seasoned. I expect great things from Jackman, Griffin and Matt, who got valuable experience in the spring and summer. We play in a tough conference, but I think we can make some noise this year and continue to build our program.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland is in by far the toughest division in the conference, with perennial powers like Cheverus, Falmouth and Scarborough standing in its way, but the Red Riots will give their all in the weeks to come. The team will be led by veterans Henderson, Mickiewicz and Pelletier. Senior Chris Foley, junior Kyle Halvorson and sophomore Sam DePaolo will play a bigger role this fall. Robbie Plummer is another newcomer to watch.
South Portland will have its hands full with the big boys in the league, but teams like Deering and Portland will provide opportunities for victory. The Red Riots are a program on the rise. 

VOLLEYBALL
FIRST YEAR PROGRAM
COACH: Autumn Hawkes (first year)
TOP PLAYERS: Holly Black (Junior), Paige Carter (Junior), Laurine German (Junior)
PIVOTAL MATCHES: Sept. 7 @ Windham, Sept. 10 @ Cape Elizabeth, Sept. 16 CHEVERUS, Oct. 8 @ NYA, Oct. 10 @ Yarmouth, Oct. 15 THORNTON ACADEMY, Oct. 17 @ Lake Region, Oct. 21 CAPE ELIZABETH
COACH'S COMMENT: “My hopes and expectations are for us to play hard and compete with all the teams who have been playing for years. I'd love to see us give teams a run for their money.”
THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: South Portland joins the varsity ranks this fall and hopes to be competitive immediately. The program is certainly in good hands to start with under Hawkes, who played for the Greely juggernaut and coached at St. Joseph's College and with the Maine Junior Olympic program.
On the court, the Red Riots will take some time to hit their stride, but the roster does feature some strong athletes, including Black (a top basketball player who will be a middle blocker on this court), Carter (a middle blocker) and softball standout German (defensive specialist).
South Portland should be able to compete with most squads on the schedule. It will be baby steps for this program, but it won't be long until the Red Riots are one of the better teams in the area.

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

Photo: File photo

Senior quarterback Duncan Preston could be one of the best in the league this year as he looks to lead the Red Riots to the playoffs.

Photo: File photo

Senior Joey DiBiase will get a lot of carries in the weeks to come.

Photo: File photo

Junior receiver Matthew Stearns will leave many a helpless defensive back in his wake this year.

Photo: File photo

Sophomore Ahmed Suja will play a pivotal role on the South Portland offense this season.

Photo: File photo

Senior captain Ben Michaud will help anchor the Red Riots' defense.

Photo: File photo

Calvin Cronin is another senior captain and defensive stalwart.

Photo: File photo

South Portland senior Shae O'Brien will help pace the Red Riots' offense this fall.

Photo: File photo

Junior Emma Russell is back in goal this season.

Photo: File photo

Sophomore Thomas Hodgkins is a key returner for the South Portland boys' cross country squad.

Photo: File photo

Junior Shannon Conley transfers in from Cheverus, where she was a top five state meet finisher a year ago.

2013 schedules

FOOTBALL
Fri., Sept. 6 H TA
Fri., Sept. 13 @ Bonny Eagle
Fri., Sept. 20 H MASSABESIC
Fri., Sept. 27 H NOBLE
Fri., Oct. 4 @ Sanford
Fri., Oct. 11 @ Scarborough
Fri., Oct. 18 H BIDDEFORD
Fri., Oct. 25 @ Portland


BOYS' SOCCER

Sat., Sept. 7 @ Scarborough
Mon., Sept. 10 @ TA
Thurs., Sept. 12 H GORHAM
Tues., Sept. 17 H WESTBROOK
Sat., Sept. 21 @ Noble
Tues., Sept. 24 H WINDHAM
Thurs., Sept. 26 @ Deering
Tues., Oct. 1 @ Biddeford
Thurs., Oct. 3 H PORTLAND
Tues., Oct. 8 H CHEVERUS
Thurs., Oct. 10 @ Massabesic
Tues., Oct. 15 H SANFORD
Thurs., Oct. 17 H BONNY EAGLE
Tues., Oct. 22 @ Marshwood

GIRLS' SOCCER
Sat., Sept. 7 @ Scarborough
Wed., Sept. 11 H TA
Sat., Sept. 14 @ Gorham
Wed., Sept. 18 @ Westbrook
Sat., Sept. 21 H MCAULEY
Wed., Sept. 25 @ Windham
Sat., Sept. 28 H DEERING
Wed., Oct. 2 @ Biddeford
Fri., Oct. 4 H PORTLAND
Wed., Oct. 9 @ Cheverus
Fri., Oct. 11 H MASSABESIC
Wed., Oct. 16 @ Sanford
Sat., Oct. 19 H BONNY EAGLE
Wed., Oct. 23 H MARSHWOOD

FIELD HOCKEY
Wed., Sept. 4 @ Gorham
Fri., Sept. 6 H MARSHWOOD
Tues., Sept. 10 @ Massabesic
Thurs., Sept. 12 H NOBLE
Mon., Sept. 16 @ Portland
Wed,. Sept. 18 H SANFORD
Sat., Sept. 21 @ Scarborough
Tues., Sept. 24 H WINDHAM
Thurs., Sept. 26 H TA
Wed., Oct. 2 @ Westbrook
Fri., Oct. 4 H BIDDEFORD
Thurs., Oct. 10 H MCAULEY
Sat,. Oct. 12 @ Bonny Eagle
Wed,. Oct. 16 @ Cheverus

BOYS' CROSS COUNTRY
Fri., Sept. 13 @ Chev (Marsh, Windham)
Fri., Sept. 20 H BE, DEER, MASS
Fri., Sept. 27 @ Sanford (Gorham, Port)
Sat., Oct. 5 @ Festival of Champions
Fri., Oct. 11 @ Scarborough (Noble)
Fri., Oct. 18 @ Westbrook (Bidd, TA)
Sat., Oct. 26 @ Western A Regionals
Sat., Nov. 2 @ Class A States

GIRLS' CROSS COUNTRY
Fri., Sept. 13 @ Chev (Marsh, Windham)
Fri., Sept. 20 H BE, DEER, MASS
Fri., Sept. 27 @ Sanford (Gorham, Port)
Sat., Oct. 5 @ Festival of Champions
Fri., Oct. 11 @ Scarborough (McA, Noble)
Fri., Oct. 18 @ Westbrook (Bidd, TA)
Sat., Oct. 26 @ Western A Regionals
Sat., Nov. 2 @ Class A States

GOLF
Wed., Sept. 4 H PORTLAND
Tues., Sept. 9 H SCARBOROUGH
Thurs., Sept. 11 @ Cheverus
Tues., Sept. 16 H FALMOUTH
Thurs., Sept 18 @ Deering
Tues., Sept. 23 @ Portland
Thurs., Sept. 25 @ Scarborough
Sat., Sept. 27 H CHEVERUS
Tues., Oct. 1 @ Falmouth
Thurs., Oct. 3 H DEERING

VOLLEYBALL
Sat., Sept. 7 @ Windham
Tues., Sept. 10 @ Cape Elizabeth
Thurs., Sept. 12 H KENNEBUNK
Mon., Sept. 16 H CHEVERUS
Wed., Sept. 18 @ Gorham
Fri., Sept. 20 H BIDDEFORD
Tues., Sept. 24 @ Cony
Fri., Sept. 27 H SCARBOROUGH
Tues., Oct. 1 H FALMOUTH
Tues., Oct. 8 @ NYA
Thurs., Oct. 10 @ Yarmouth
Tues., Oct. 15 H TA
Thurs., Oct. 17 @ Lake Region
Mon., Oct. 21 H CAPE ELIZABETH