Portland edition Fall Coaches of the Year

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When Jason Jackson was hired as Deering’s football coach back in March, it was immediately evident that he had the enthusiasm and desire to succeed.

The only question was would the Rams respond?

Fast forward eight months and the answer was a resounding yes.

Jackson ended the revolving door at the Deering head coach position, got a talented group to buy into his brand of coaching and the results were plain to see, six victories, the No. 2 seed in Class B South and a bye into the regional semifinals where the Rams dropped a one-point heartbreaker to Bonny Eagle, after losing by 38 to the Scots in the regular season.

In light of such immediate excellence, Jason Jackson gets The Forecaster’s nod as our Portland edition Fall Coach of the Year, of a boys’ team.

Jackson was an all-state running back and defensive back in his native Washington state. He moved to Maine (his wife is a South Portland native) and spent several seasons coaching in Cape Elizabeth before becoming Deering’s fifth coach in six seasons and its fourth in as many years.

The Rams won their first two games, then gave Thornton Academy, which appeared invincible, a battle before losing. After a victory at South Portland, Deering was drubbed at home by Bonny Eagle, creating some doubts. The Rams’ season could have gone south, but instead, they won their final three games and even though the playoff loss stung, the season was a tour de force.

“I wanted to establish myself and give the kids someone they could trust and that started before the season,” Jackson said. “I’m a people person. I just wanted an opportunity. I had a wonderful coaching staff and some hungry kids. My relationship with the kids was my strength.”

Jackson’s kids go to Longfellow Elementary School. He lives right down the street from the high school (he can regularly be found in the halls), hopes to stay put for many years, create real stability and keep Deering where it belongs, as one of the state’s elite programs.

Jason Jackson, our Portland edition boys’ team Fall Coach of the Year, has already proved that anything is possible if you encourage belief and trust. He’s set the bar high and there’s no reason to believe that anything shy of excellence is on Deering’s horizon.

Prior winners:

2014 Colin Minte (Cheverus soccer)

2013 Rocco Frenzilli (Portland soccer)

2012 John Wolfgram (Cheverus football)

2011 Brandon Salway (Waynflete soccer)

2010 Rocco Frenzilli (Portland soccer)

2009 John Wolfgram (Cheverus football)

2008 Billy Goodman (Deering golf)

2007 Andy LeFebvre (Deering soccer)

2006 John Simpson (Cheverus cross country)

2005 Jim Ouellette (Cheverus golf)

2004 Mike Bailey (Portland football)



While Cheverus’ field hockey team made it to the semifinals a year ago, it was far from a fun season for coach Amy Ashley, who had to guide the Stags through a late-season nine-game winless streak.

This year, Ashley had a lot more fun and so did her girls, the ones wearing a Cheverus uniform and the one waiting to be born.

Despite being in the final trimester of her first pregnancy, Ashley led the Stags to one of their finest seasons, one which didn’t end until the regional final and as a result, Amy Ashley gets The Forecaster’s nod as our Portland edition Fall Coach of the Year, of a girls’ team.

Ashley previously won as Amy McMullin in 2009 and was also honored back in the spring after leading Yarmouth’s softball team to a first championship.

Ashley, who played field hockey, basketball and softball at Messalonskee High School, then went on to play field hockey and basketball at Franklin Pierce University, took over the Cheverus field hockey position in 2008 and had immediate success, leading the Stags to the playoffs every year and to the Class A Final in 2010. This season will certainly go down as one of her finest and one of her favorites.

Cheverus started out with eight successive wins, including two in overtime and another over defending state champion Scarborough, the first time the Stags had beaten the Red Storm in the regular season. Cheverus then tasted adversity with back-to-back losses to Marshwood and Massabesic, but unlike last year, the Stags roared back and closed with four straight victories to earn the top seed in the playoffs for the first time.

Cheverus then twice almost sent Ashley into early labor by having to go through two overtimes and into penalty corners before surviving Westbrook in the quarterfinals and Sanford in the semifinals. The Stags finally met their match in Thornton Academy in the Class A South Final, but what a ride it was.

Not long after, baby Annie Ashley entered the world, putting the punctuation mark on a magical year.

“I’ve had an absolute blast every day with these girls,” Ashley said, following the regional final. “Somedays I didn’t have energy, but how can you not have energy when you get to practice and see their smiles? This is why I coach. It’s been an amazing season and I won’t forget it.”

Who doesn’t love happy endings? Amy Ashley, our Portland edition girls’ team Fall Coach of the Year, has made them a habit.

Prior winners:

2014 Arthur Mosen (Portland soccer)

2013 Todd Dominski (Waynflete soccer)

2012 Todd Dominski (Waynflete soccer)

2011 Beth Arsenault (Portland field hockey)

2010 Noelle Surette (Waynflete field hockey)

2009 Amy McMullin (Cheverus field hockey)

2008 Ziggy Gillespie (Waynflete cross country)

2007 Patsy Fowler (Cheverus field hockey)

2006 Dave Levasseur (Portland soccer)

2005 Tim Donovan (McAuley cross country)

2004 Jon Shardlow (Waynflete soccer)

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

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.