Coach: Jim Hartman (fourth year, 20-10 overall record)
2014 record: 6-4 (Lost, 21-17, to Windham in Eastern A semifinals)
Top returners: George Chaison-Lapine (Senior), Joe Esposito (Senior), Joe Fusco (Senior), Charlie Kovarik (Senior), Dan Marzilli (Senior), Austin Phillips (Senior), John Williams (Senior), Nick Archambault (Junior), Isaiah Batchelder (Junior), Dylan Bolduc (Junior), Jake Knop (Junior)
Pivotal games: Sept. 4 @ Scarborough, Sept. 18 WINDHAM, Oct. 2 CHEVERUS, Oct. 16 @ Bangor, Oct. 23 SOUTH PORTLAND
Coach’s comment: “We’ll have to jell. We have to fill holes on the offensive line and at quarterback. Our defense and our special teams should be extremely good. I have tough kids. We’ll have to be patient. By the end of the season, we’ll be competitive.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: Last autumn, for the second year in a row, Portland’s season ended with an agonizing, close road playoff loss. The Bulldogs’ signature regular season win came at Windham and they had a chance to upset the Eagles again on a freezing night in early November, but fell just short, letting a late lead slip away. While graduation took some key players, Portland does return a lot of talent this fall. This year’s team is looking to finish the job and while it might take awhile, expect the Bulldogs to be very strong by season’s end.
This season, Archambault is expected to run the offense at quarterback, as he replaces All-Conference selection Jordan Talbot. Archambault saw some action under center in 2014 (he completed 2 of 4 passes for 22 yards and ran for 83 yards and three scores) and is more than capable, as he’s a terrific athlete and shows great leadership. Chaison-Lapine (74 carries, 667 yards, 4 TDs in 2014), Esposito (651 yards and 4 TDs on 110 carries last season) and Knop (6 carries, 95 yards, 2 TDs a year ago) are a three-headed monster at running back, as opposing defenses won’t be able to key on just one ball carrier. The Bulldogs don’t traditionally throw much, but when they do, Archambault can look for Batchelder, Bolduc, Fusco, Phillips (6 receptions, 153 yards, 2 TDs in 2014) and Williams. Despite the departure of the school’s reigning Fall Male Athlete of the Year, Jeremiah Israel-Copeland, Portland’s line appears stout thanks to the likes of Kovarik and Marzilli. Williams, who has a booming leg, once again handles the place kicking. His range extends out to 50 yards and he’s the type of weapon you don’t see often at the high school level.
Defensively, Portland hopes to build on the second half of last season when it allowed just 25 points in its final four regular season games. Up front, Fusco (who had 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks a year ago) Kovarik, Phillips and senior Tommy O’Donnell will wreak havoc. Archambault (50 tackles and three interceptions in 2014), Chaison-Lapine, Esposito (an All-Conference selection last year when he made 51 tackles and intercepted four passes) and Marzilli (a team-high 52 tackles and a sack last autumn) make up a strong linebacking corps. Batchelder, Bolduc (who made 42 tackles and tied for the league lead in interceptions with five last fall) and Knop are top defensive backs.
The Bulldogs hope to ride their strength, hunger and will to a great season. This team will be hard to stop thanks to its offensive diversity and defensively, Portland is going to make life miserable for most of its foes. The Bulldogs lost decisively just once a year ago and that came in the opener. This team could be as good as any in a very competitive Northern Class A. After coming close the past couple seasons, Portland won’t be content unless it makes it all the way to the state final for the first time since 2002. This group has a lot of athletes who know how to win, regardless of season. The Bulldogs might not be the preseason favorite (Windham understandably is), but by November, Portland might just be the best of the bunch.
Coach: Rocco Frenzilli (29th year, 199-173-42 overall record)
2014 record: 6-7-2 (Lost, 1-0, to eventual state champion Cheverus in Western A preliminary round)
Top returners: Pavel Bobe (Senior), Bobby Brittingham (Senior), Ollie Brochu (Senior), Brady Cyr (Senior), Wade Faria (Senior), Sam Farr (Senior), Josh Irving (Senior), Erick Molina (Senior), Tim Baker (Junior), Alex Frank (Junior), Quinn Clarke (Sophomore)
Pivotal games: Sept. 4 CHEVERUS, Sept. 15 TA, Sept. 24 @ Westbrook, Sept. 29 SOUTH PORTLAND, Oct. 1 @ Scarborough, Oct. 8 GORHAM, Oct. 20 DEERING
Coach’s comment: “The kids have been very proactive and positive. The seniors have played a lot since they were freshmen. We’ve got good balance. The experience is there. It’s just a question of finding the right combinations with the guys coming in. I think we match up technically with anybody. I see good things starting to happen. We have to find a way to put what’s on paper on the field. You don’t win on paper, but I really like these guys a lot. It’s going to be an exciting year.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: Had things gone a little differently the night of last Oct. 25, it might have been Portland making the spirited run to the state title which Cheverus enjoyed. In that prelim, the Bulldogs carried play for swaths of the game, but couldn’t score and alas, their season came to a close. Portland has the pieces in place to improve on last year’s record and be a force in the postseason. The Bulldogs will just be a work in progress.
Not many teams can boast a three-year starter in goal, but Portland has that luxury in Brittingham, an honorable mention league all-star last year. He could be one of the best in the league this fall. Brittingham will get help from veteran defenders Baker (who is battling injury at the season’s onset), Brochu, Clarke and Molina (a second-team all-star in 2014). In the midfield, Irving (another reigning second-team all-star) is joined by the athletic Cyr, Farr and Frank. Up top, Bobe and Faria (who is also hindered by injury) will look to score. They’ll get help from Cyr, Farr, Frank and Irving. This squad lacks a superstar, but has some terrific ingredients all over the field.
Portland’s first win this autumn will be the 200th of Frenzilli’s long career and it would be extra sweet for him if it came in the opener versus Cheverus (his alma mater), but this team has bigger aspirations than one victory. The Bulldogs look to reach the playoffs for the 16th year in a row and to borrow from Cheverus’ book and make a deep run once they get there. Perhaps all the way to November.
Coach: Arthur Mosen (fourth year, 16-25-4 overall record)
2014 record: 9-7 (Lost, 3-2, to eventual state champion Windham in Western A quarterfinals)
Top returners: Chessa Hoekstra (Senior), Merritt Ryan (Senior), Isabel Stehli (Senior), Hayleigh Blanchard (Junior), Taylor Crosby (Junior), Kate Johnson (Junior)
Pivotal games: Sept. 4 @ Cheverus, Sept. 11 WINDHAM, Sept. 16 @ TA, Sept. 19 MARSHWOOD, Oct. 2 SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 9 @ Gorham, Oct. 20 DEERING
Coach’s comment: “The team has a strong spine again and we’ve been lucky to be able to add two to three freshmen to the mix each year so when our seniors graduate, we have kids that already have experience with the team and can jump right in. One of our biggest strengths this year will be the leadership of our seniors, who have all been part of the team since they started high school. They understand that we want to play in a certain way that requires their teammates to think and understand the system rather than play a kick and run game. They have high expectations of themselves on and off the field and I know they will hold their teammates to those standards as well. The team got a taste of the playoffs last season and we know that once you get there anything can happen, so we’ll be pushing hard to make sure we are in that mix again. We have a lot to be excited about this year, as some really talented players are returning, have improved even more since last year and they are ready for opening day.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: Portland became Destiny’s Darlings last fall, winning an epic prelim against Deering in penalty kicks, then jolting Windham with successive goals in the quarterfinals before the defending and eventual repeat champions responded late to end the Bulldogs’ season. Portland has learned how to win and this year’s team hopes to build on last year’s run, but there are some holes to fill, including reigning Fall Female Athlete of the Year Madison Bolduc and second-team league all-star and defensive stalwart Rachel Glover.
This year’s squad has several girls who can tickle the twine. Hoekstra, a first-team all-star in 2014, Johnson (an honorable mention all-star last year) and Stehli (last seen scoring some huge goals during the girls’ lacrosse team’s magical postseason) lead the way. Stehli scored 10 times and produced the decisive PK in the playoff win against Deering, while Johnson had eight goals and six assists in 2014. Blanchard and sophomore Gracie Lagrange could also figure into the scoring mix. Defensively, the Bulldogs appear to be in good shape thanks to the presence of Ryan (the lacrosse standout) and sophomore Ella Altidore. Crosby, the goalkeeper, is coming off a terrific season and could be one of the league’s finest. Junior Rose Griffin could see some time between the pipes as well.
Just getting to the playoffs is no longer enough. Portland wants to once again turn heads, peak at the right time and enjoy an even longer stay. The Bulldogs last had back-to-back winning seasons from 2006-09. They have a chance to that this fall. They last got past the quarterfinal round of the playoffs in 2008. That also is a realistic milestone. Portland is having fun and has learned how to win. That’s a dangerous combination. The Bulldogs have enjoyed three straight seasons of winning more games than the year before. If that trend continues, this squad could steal playoff headlines once again.
Coach: Beth Arsenault (16th year, 65-145-9 overall record)
2014 record: 9-6 (Lost, 5-1, to Cheverus in Western A preliminary round)
Top returners: Alysha Alling (Senior), Kate Brewer (Senior), Maggie Denekas (Senior), Gianna Gaudet (Senior), Holly Hinchliffe (Senior), Kaylyn Madore (Senior), Lauren McIntyre (Senior), Ashley Paisley (Senior), Taylor Sargent (Junior), Jenni Nguyen (Sophomore)
Pivotal games: Sept. 8 @ Marshwood, Sept. 14 @ Deering, Sept. 16 GORHAM, Sept. 22 CHEVERUS, Sept. 30 @ TA, Oct. 1 WESTBROOK, Oct. 6 @ Scarborough, Oct. 9 SOUTH PORTLAND
Coach’s comment: “I am excited for our team this season. While we did graduate nine and lost some very talented players, we are returning a very strong core with lots of experience. Four of our seniors have been playing varsity since their freshman year, as has junior Taylor. The remainder of our seniors have been playing varsity since their sophomore year, so replacing all state player Georgia Drew and league all-stars Meggie Parker and Gabby Wagabaza feels a little less daunting. Their collective experience has made this team pretty fearless and not easily intimidated. We had a great season last year and experienced some success and while that success was not entirely unexpected, I think we may have surprised even ourselves a little bit. I think this team will go into every game with an expectation and belief that they should win and not just could win. Our goal will be to get to the playoffs and advance and not be happy with just an appearance. Our players have worked hard in the offseason and we feel like we have impact players in all phases of the game in terms of forward, midfield, defense and goalie. Our newcomers will contribute as well and are coming in with already solid skill-sets and excellent attitudes. Like this current senior class, they will benefit from playing with a large and very skilled and experienced class ahead of them.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: A year ago, Portland posted just its second winning record in a decade, but the Bulldogs, who appeared to be peaking after a win at Marshwood in the regular season finale, were frustrated by their playoff loss to Cheverus, a team they had beaten just 12 days earlier. Several top players graduated, but the program can absorb those losses and with a little bit of luck, could emerge even stronger this fall.
This season, McIntyre, a co-captain, figures to rattle the cage on a regular basis. She can finish in close and create her own shot by making defenders miss. Madore, Nguyen and Sargent will also score their share of goals. Brewer and Hinchliffe, the other co-captain, help anchor the midfield. Defensively, the Bulldogs are in good shape behind Alling, Denekas and Paisley. Gaudet returns in goal for a fourth season, a luxury very few teams enjoy. Several newcomers hope to soon become household names. That includes junior Corey Willings, sophomores Clay Bessire, Sydney Gilbert, Charlie Green and Emma Scholz and freshman Bridget Maloney.
The Bulldogs are seeking their first consecutive postseason trips in a decade and with the talent on this roster, don’t be surprise if they match or exceed last year’s win total. Portland is hungry to establish itself as a consistent contender and to do so, it will need to win a playoff game or two. This group is capable of doing just that and might not stop there. Expect a lot of excitement from this squad in the weeks to come.
FIRST YEAR VARSITY PROGRAM
Coach: Joe Russo
Players to watch: Isabelle DiMillo (Senior), Edy Doyon (Senior), Jennifer Huynh (Senior), Maddie Kennie (Senior), Carmie Partlow (Senior), Olivia Prime (Senior), Robyn Ritchie (Senior), Elahe Seddeqi (Junior), Annie Twombly (Junior), Veronica Bates (Sophomore), Jessica Brown (Sophomore), Sarah Bryan (Sophomore), Shayla Eubanks (Sophomore), Abby Krieckhaus (Sophomore), Sophia Silva (Sophomore)
Pivotal matches: Sept. 4 @ Deering, Sept. 8 BONNY EAGLE, Sept. 10 @ Wells, Sept. 12 @ South Portland, Sept. 22 @ Lake Region, Sept. 29 SOUTH PORTLAND, Oct. 1 @ Bonny Eagle, Oct. 2 WELLS, Oct 6 DEERING, Oct. 13 CHEVERUS
Coach’s comment: “It’s been an interesting and enjoyable process. Establishing a new program from the ground up has been fun. The girls have been absolutely wonderful. We’re building around six athletic sophomores. Our goal is to continue the competitiveness we established last year. We’ll incorporate strategies as quickly as we can.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: Volleyball is a new varsity sport at Portland this fall. The Bulldogs were very competitive as a developmental program in 2014 and Russo, best known as the school’s longtime successful boys’ basketball coach (he’s joined by basketball assistants Joe Giordano and Carmine Rumo), feels they’ll hold their own at the new level.
Portland figures to be formidable at the net thanks to the likes of Bates, Eubanks, Krieckhaus, Partlow and Twombly. Setters to watch include Brown, Bryan, Huynh, Ritchie, Seddeqi and Silva. DiMillo, Doyon, Kennie and Prime all have powerful serves.
The Bulldogs’ athleticism will take them a long way. This is a team that can hold its own against the newer programs and that could result in a pretty impressive record for a first-year team. The playoffs might be a stretch this season, but Portland is built for the long haul. The future is bright.
(Boys) Dan Deniso (24th year)
(Girls) Sophie Payson-Rand (10th year)
(Boys) DNQ for states (14th @ Western A regionals)
(Girls) DNQ for states (13th @ Western A regionals)
(Boys) Ryan Donaldson (Senior), Brad Ravenelle (Senior), Ryan Lizanecz (Junior), Matice Maino (Junior), Alex Ramsey (Junior)
(Girls) Nellie Block (Senior), Joska Odong (Senior), Raven Bradenday (Sophomore), Alice Kenny (Sophomore)
Top foes: Gorham, Massabesic, Scarborough, South Portland, Windham boys; Cheverus, Deering, Scarborough girls
Coach Deniso’s comment: “Brad has trained hard this spring and summer and is in top shape and will be a top runner in the SMAA. Newcomers give us some much needed depth. Conservatively, we’re probably in the 6-7-8 range in the conference this year.”
Coach Payson-Rand’s comment: “Our numbers are low. We lost seven seniors, so I knew I’d be starting with low numbers. I’m hoping a few more will girls come out. It’s a developing team this year. My biggest hope is that all the girls improve their individual times and enjoy the season.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: Neither Portland cross country squad has reached the state meet since 2011 and both are seeking to end that drought this autumn.
The boys feature Ravenelle, an honorable mention all-star who was 60th at the regional meet last season. Ravenelle is in line for a big move up the ladder this season. Other scorers returning include Lizanecz (64th) and Ramsey (97th). Donaldson and Maino also have experience. They’re joined by new seniors Jonah Bradenday and Moses Small and freshman Joe Harrington, who will help round out the pack. The Bulldogs will be competitive in the league and will hope to be at their best in late October for the big meets. This is a team that could find itself running on the final Saturday at the state meet.
On the girls’ side, Portland will be led by Bradenday (64th at last year’s regional meet) and Block (79th). Kenny and Odong also return. New senior Anna Freund is a nice addition. The Bulldogs will be able to develop some depth if a few other runners come out. This group should steadily improve as the regular season goes on and could be in the mix for a state meet spot if all goes well.
Coach: John LaFond (38th year, four state championships)
2014 results: 4-6 (no postseason)
Top returner: Phil McCallum (Senior)
Top foes: Cheverus, Falmouth, Scarborough
Coach’s comment: “We have five returning letterman coupled with promising freshmen and sophomores who provide an opportunistic outlook.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: Portland finds itself in the most challenging division around, but should improve in the weeks to come.
Big things are expected from McCallum, who reached the individual state match last fall and tied for sixth after shooting a 79. There are several younger players behind him looking to fill slots, which means the Bulldogs might struggle with wins and losses, but if they develop as hoped, Portland will have a chance to qualify for the state meet. Whether or not the Bulldogs do so this autumn, the next few seasons figure to produce more triumph.
Junior Nick Archambault will run the Portland offense this fall.
Junior Dylan Bolduc is a top defensive back for the Bulldogs.
Senior George Chaison-Lapine will have an opportunity to rush for a lot of yards in the weeks to come.
Senior Dan Marzilli is a hard hitter and will make an impact on both sides of the ball.
Senior John Williams is one of the region’s top placekickers.
Junior Tim Baker is a top returner for Portland’s always competitive boys’ soccer team.
Senior Pavel Bobe will be in the offensive mix this season.
Goalkeeper Bobby Brittingham returns for his senior season, which is a comfort to the Bulldogs.
Quinn Clarke saw time on defense as a freshman. He’ll play a bigger role this season.
Senior Brady Cyr will make an impact all over the field.
Senior Wade Faria hopes to score some timely goals this season.
Senior Sam Farr has a booming foot that will produce highlights in the weeks to come.
Senior Erick Molina has played in his share of big games.
Ella Altidore turned heads as a freshman and will be a player to watch for Portland’s girls’ soccer team this fall.
Junior Hayleigh Blanchard will look to score some timely goals this season.
Junior goalkeeper Taylor Crosby brings her penchant for the clutch save back between the pipes this season.
Senior Chessa Hoekstra is an experienced leader for a team with playoff aspirations.
Junior Kate Johnson has scored her share of big goals and figures to pace the offense again this season.
Senior Isabel Stehli embraces the big moment, regardless of the season.
Senior Catherine Brewer returns to help lead the Bulldogs on another playoff quest.
Senior Gianna Gaudet is back in goal for the Bulldogs.
Senior Holly Hinchliffe will be in the offensive mix this season.
Senior Lauren McIntyre will pace Portland’s offense this fall.
Senior Ashley Paisley provides offensive depth.
Junior Taylor Sargent is another top offensive threat.
Senior Isabelle DiMillo is a top returner and a threat from the serving stripe for Portland’s first-year varsity volleyball team.
Senior Maddie Kennie is another returning veteran for the Bulldogs.
Senior Olivia Prime returns to help Portland compete this fall.
Junior Annie Twombly is top hitter for the Bulldogs.
Brad Ravenelle hopes to lead Portland’s boys’ cross country team to the state meet.
Senior Joe Esposito and his Bulldogs teammates are thinking state title this fall.