South Portland Red Riots 2011 Fall Sports Preview

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South Portland has high hopes in several sports this fall. Football made it to the playoffs a year ago and looks for an even longer stay this time around. Boys’ soccer is coming off its best season in more than 20 years and should be a top Western A contender again. The girls’ team expects to bounce back and make the playoffs. Field hockey turned the corner a year ago and under a new coach this autumn, looks to contend again. Both cross country teams have reason to believe that they’ll not only qualify for states, but be among the best teams there. Golf welcomes a new coach and will try to contend in a challenging region.

FOOTBALL

COACH: Steve Stinson (seventh year)

2010 Results: 5-4 (Lost 32-0 to Bonny Eagle in Western Class A quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Zach Compton (Senior), Joey DiBiase (Senior), Logan Gaddar (Senior), Teddy Lefay (Senior), Dan Medici (Senior), Jordan Muller (Senior), Max Porter (Senior), Michael Salvatore (Senior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 3 @ Cheverus, Sept. 9 (H) THORNTON ACADEMY, Oct. 14 @ Windham, Oct. 21 @ Portland

COACH’S COMMENT: “We’ve had a good couple months of preseason. We have 19 seniors, a small junior class and a big sophomore class. The kids are playing hard. I think we’ve had a great offseason and preseason. Having eight seniors on both offense and defense will help at this level. We’re excited and ready to go.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Last fall, South Portland made its first playoff appearance since 2002. The Red Riots hope to build on that this season and should compete in a wide open Western Class A. Muller, who missed much of 2010 with injury, will be under center, with Salvatore seeing some time at quarterback as well. They’ll look for Compton, Gaddar, Lefay, Medici (who also was hurt a year ag0) and new senior Matt DiBiase through the air. On the ground, Joey DiBiase (a league all-star a year ago) is the lead back. Porter (the nephew of former Portland High star Quinton Porter, who is currently playing in the Canadian Football League) and new senior Tyler Young will also have an opportunity to run the ball. The line features a trio of junior newcomers, Ryan Ely, Cody Munson and Liam Rottkov. The Red Riots have the potential to score a lot of points. If this group stays healthy, it will be tough to stop. The same names will make an impact on defense. Up front, Ely, Munson and Rottkov will stand tall. The linebacking corps features Compton, Joey DiBiase, Matt DiBiase, Porter and Young. Gaddar, Lefay, Medici, Mullar and Salvatore man the secondary. With several returning starters, the defense should hold its own and get even stronger as the season progresses. South Portland isn’t being mentioned with the top teams in the preseason, but it will have a couple great chances to make an impact when it opens at defending champion Cheverus, then hosts highly touted, traditional contender Thornton Academy in the home opener. The Red Riots should make another run at a winning record and will be battling for a playoff spot. The program’s resurgence continues and the season could culminate in a playoff run.

BOYS’ SOCCER

COACH: Bryan Hoy (fifth year)

2010 Record: 10-4-1 (Lost 2-1 to Gorham in Western Class A quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Will Bushey (Senior), Akiba Davis (Senior), Nate Fox (Senior), Nick Genesio (Senior), Dan Grazewski (Senior), Nemanja Kaurin (Senior), Andy Mills (Senior), Shawn Shannon (Senior), Damjan Draskovic (Junior), Caleb Elsemore (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 3 @ Scarborough, Sept. 13 (H) WESTBROOK, Sept. 20 @ Deering, Sept. 27 @ Kennebunk, Oct. 4 (H) GORHAM, Oct. 6 @ Cheverus, Oct. 13 (H) PORTLAND

COACH’S COMMENT: “We return eight starters and a ton of varsity experience. Our strength this year is going to be our depth. I have players who are fighting for minutes who would normally be fighting for a starting role, which is a good problem to have. Nem and Akiba are two of the most skilled players I have had the pleasure to coach. I have very high hopes for this season.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland is coming off its best regular season since 1988, but a playoff loss at Gorham left a bad taste in the Red Riots’ mouth. They hoped to go deep into the postseason. That could be what happens this fall as South Portland returns several standout players and adds some key newcomers. Kaurin (the school’s Fall 2010 Male Athlete of the Year, a second-team league all-star and an all-regional team selection) has been the leading scorer each of the past two seasons and projects to be prolific again. Draskovic (a second-team all-star a year ago) and Grazewski will also do their share of scoring. Davis (a first-team all-star last year) does a little of everything and is another premier athlete. He and Fox (an honorable mention all-star last autumn) will make up one of the top defensive tandems in the SMAA. Bushey, Elsemore, Genesio and Mills all have experience and look to play key roles. Shannon (an honorable mention all-star in 2010) is the lead goalkeeper. Junior Ben Burkey will also see time between the pipes. New senior Jack Lano, juniors Adam Helmke and Ryan Pelletier and sophomores Danny Fox and Ben Michaud add depth to one of the most experienced and balanced rosters around. Hoy (the reigning SMAA Coach of the Year) has done a great job getting this program to the level where it can compete year-in, year-out. After last year, the Red Riots won’t be able to sneak up on anyone, but they won’t have to. They’ll be able to go toe-to-toe with the elite teams, starting with the opener at traditional powerhouse Scarborough. With a balanced, parity-driven league, matching last year’s record might be difficult, but South Portland will be there at the end and could enjoy its deepest playoff run in over two decades.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

COACH: Andy Pappas (sixth year)

2010 Record: 6-7-1 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Maryalice Gurnee (Senior), Emily Masters (Senior), Jenacee Bradbury (Junior), Jenna Wing (Junior), Emma Dennison (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 12 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 17 @ Sanford, Sept. 22 @ Windham, Sept. 24 (H) DEERING, Oct. 5 @ Gorham, Oct. 12 (H) THORNTON ACADEMY

COACH’S COMMENT: “We’re looking to turn around several close games last year that just barely kept us out of the playoffs. This team’s mission is to make playoffs. Our experience should win us more games, we just need some timely goal scoring. Our lineup is pretty strong at every position and we have some depth off the bench.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland suffered four one-goal losses a year ago and also settled for a scoreless tie. A win in any of those five contests might have propelled the Red Riots into the playoffs. This autumn, South Portland appears to have what it takes to turn things around and get back to the postseason for the first time since 2008. Wing is the top returning scorer. Bradbury (an SMAA honorable mention all-star in 2010) , Dennison and Masters will also be factors. Gurnee anchors the defense in front of new goalie senior Domonique Smith. Sophomores Akadia Higgins and Shae O’Brien are new players to watch. South Portland only allowed 17 goals in 2010, which should have resulted in an impressive win-loss total, but the offense only managed to score 11 times. For this team to enjoy success, the offensive production needs to increase consistently. There are enough athletes on the team to suggest that will happen. While the Red Riots aren’t at the level of the elite contenders, they’re capable of matching up with anyone and should get back to playoff level.

FIELD HOCKEY

COACH: Leslie Dyer (first year)

2010 Record: 8-7 (Lost 2-1 to Thornton Academy in Western Class A quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Brianna Bower (Senior), Olivia Edwards (Senior), Maraka Soule (Senior), Lani Edwards (Junior), Jaclyn Salevsky (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Sept. 6 (H) WESTBROOK, Sept. 8 @ Portland, Sept. 16 (H) GORHAM, Sept. 20 @ Scarborough, Sept. 26 (H) CHEVERUS, Sept. 30 @ Sanford,

COACH’S COMMENT: “This year will be an exciting year as we have many great returners. It will be a building year as we lost many players last year, but the girls are up for the challenge. I run an intense and physical program and the girls are adjusting to my coaching style. We hope to come out strong and beat the record from last year and to overall make a solid transition into this new beginning together. My goal for the team is to work on communication, positioning and footwork. If they can join and work together, then we’ll be a team to watch. ”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: After three lean years, South Portland returned to form a year ago, posting its first winning mark and making it to the playoffs for the first time since 2006, earning Heather Seavey league Coach of the Year honors. Seavey isn’t returning this year so the program will be led by Dyer, who grew up in upstate New York and played Division I field hockey at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Penn. She’s coached the South Portland JV girls’ lacrosse team for three years and is embarking on her first season as a varsity field hockey coach. While the Red Riots lost eight players from last year, including all-stars Michelle Callow, Felicia Farnham and Rebecca Roberts, they return several good athletes who are bolstered by a couple promising newcomers. The offense will be sparked by Bower and freshman Courtney Pelkey, while the midfield will be a strength behind Olivia Edwards, Salvesky and Soule. Sophomore sweeper Olivia Indorf paces the defense. Lani Edwards enters her third season as the goalie. Now that South Portland has gotten accustomed to some success, it figures to remain in contention. A year ago, the Red Riots upset arguably the two best teams in the region, Cheverus and Scarborough. This time around, they won’t sneak up on anyone, but will hold their own. Another exciting season is in store.

CROSS COUNTRY

BOYS COACH: Andrew Lupien (fifth year)

GIRLS COACH: Karen Reardon (ninth year)

2010 Results:

(BOYS) 13th @ Class A state meet

(GIRLS) 9th @ Class A state meet

TOP RETURNING RUNNERS

BOYS: Thomas Salamone (Senior), Austin Gotts (Junior), Max Knutsen (Junior), Ryan Tuttle (Junior), Patrick Conley (Sophomore), Robert Graff (Sophomore)

GIRLS: Jackie Merrill (Junior), Bridget Mulligan (Junior), Nyajock Pan (Junior), Angela Tirabassi (Junior), Ariana Mohammad (Sophomore)

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

COACH LUPIEN’S COMMENT: Six of our current top seven runners are returning. With a strong group of returning veteran runners and with the addition of Darryl Wilkinson, we expect to be one of the top teams in the SMAA this year. Our first goal is to make it back to states for a third consecutive season and hopefully improve upon our 13th place finish..

COACH REARDON’S COMMENT: “We will miss Annelise Donahue and Maria Letourneau, who were in top runners for the team all four years, but we have a strong group returning and they’re all underclassmen. This is an important year to really make some forward progress. We were very young the last two years, but now we have a little experience under our belts, so that should help. Almost everyone is back and the newcomers we have added will only make the team stronger. We were sixth in the region last year, so we would like to improve on that finish and again qualify for the state meet. This year at the state meet, we want to really try to make a big move forward. The girls have a lot of potential. It’s perhaps my most fit team at this point in the season so it will be interesting to see how they race. It should be an exciting season, lots of good runners to follow.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both South Portland cross country teams expect to contend from start to finish this autumn.

The boys have a solid corps returning. Leading the way is Tuttle (43rd at last year’s state meet). Gotts (52nd), Graff (64th) and Knutsen (68th) also scored on the big stage. Conley and Salamone look to make a mark and senior Darryl Wilkinson, a top indoor and outdoor track athlete, and freshman Matt Beecher, who was a middle school standout, add depth. The Red Riots have the opportunity to not only be strong in the league and make it back to states, but to shoot into the top 10 or beyond. The program is only getting stronger going forward.

On the girls’ side, Pan is the top returner and will be one of the very best runners anywhere, regardless of class. She was sixth at last year’s state meet, qualified for New Englands, and could move up. Mulligan (48th) last year and Tirabassi (66th) are vying for the No. 2 spot. Merrill and Mohammad show potential and will help form a solid pack. Seniors Sarah Baird and Kateri Jeffery and sophomore Emma Jordan provide depth and could play a part in the top seven. Sophomore Casey Kelley and Kyndra McKenzie are on the verge of turning heads. Classmates Maya Letourneau and Taylor Matthews and freshman Lauren Magnusun also join the squad. There are several strong teams in Western Class A, but South Portland has reason to believe it can compete with all of them. A strong regular season and higher finish at the state meet are distinctly possible.

GOLF

COACH: Kevin Winship (first year)

2010 Results: 5-5 (no postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jacob Babbidge (Senior), Lizzie Canarie (Senior), Aaron Flowers (Senior), Alec Neal (Junior), Derek Tannoia (Junior)

TOP FOES: Cheverus, Deering, Falmouth

COACH’S COMMENT: “This is going to be a rebuilding year for us. We graduated all but one varsity player. There are some talented younger kids in the program who will benefit from getting a lot of varsity experience this year.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Last fall, South Portland wasn’t able to build on its dream season of 2009, but the Red Riots were quite respectable. This time around, they’ll have their hands full competing against teams like Cheverus, Deering, Scarborough and new-to-Class A Falmouth (which happens to be the defending Class B state champion). Ernie Lamson’s long run as head coach has come to a close and he’s replaced by Winship, who served as the Red Riots’ JV coach the past two years. The team does have a strong group of returners in Babbidge, Canarie (who could be one of the better female players in the region), Flowers, Neal and Tannoia. They’re joined by new sophomore Chris Foley and freshmen Kyle Halverson, Griffin Henderson and Jackman Mickiewicz. There’s a lot of potential here, but it might take awhile for South Portland to hit its stride. Facing the top teams in Class A won’t help the win-loss record in the regular season, but by qualifying time, the Red Riots might be primed to surprise and get to the state match.

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

Senior Logan Gaddar will be one of the top receivers in Western A this year.

Lani Edwards is back for a third year in goal for the resurgent South Portland field hockey team.

Junior Jaclyn Salevsky is one of the Red Riots’ top scoring threats.

Junior Nyajock Pan was sixth at last year’s Class A state cross country meet and could be even stronger this fall.

Sidebar Elements


Senior Joey DiBiase and his South Portland teammates are eying a return trip to the playoffs in 2011.

More photos below.

2011 schedules

FOOTBALL

Sat., Sept. 3 @ Cheverus

Fri., Sept. 9 H TA

Fri., Sept. 16 H SANFORD

Fri., Sept. 23 H MASSABESIC

Fri., Sept. 30 @ Noble

Thurs., Oct. 6 H KENNEBUNK

Fri., Oct. 14 @ Windham

Fri., Oct. 21 @ Portland

BOYS’ SOCCER

Sat., Sept. 3 @ Scarborough

Tues., Sept. 6 @ Massabesic

Thurs., Sept. 8 H BIDDEFORD

Tues., Sept. 13 H WESTBROOK

Thurs., Sept. 15 H SANFORD

Tues., Sept. 20 @ Deering

Thurs., Sept. 22 H WINDHAM

Tues., Sept. 27 @ Kennebunk

Thurs., Sept. 29 H BONNY EAGLE

Tues., Oct. 4 H GORHAM

Thurs., Oct. 6 @ Cheverus

Tues., Oct. 11 @ TA

Thurs., Oct. 13 H PORTLAND

Tues., Oct. 18 @ Marshwood

GIRLS’ SOCCER

Wed., Sept. 7 H MASSABESIC

Sat., Sept. 10 @ Biddeford

Mon., Sept. 12 H SCARBOROUGH

Thurs., Sept. 15 @ Westbrook

Sat., Sept. 17 @ Sanford

Tues., Sept. 20 H MCAULEY

Thurs., Sept. 22 @ Windham

Sat., Sept. 24 H DEERING

Tues., Sept. 27 H KENNEBUNK

Fri., Sept. 30 @ Bonny Eagle

Wed., Oct. 5 @ Gorham

Wed., Oct. 12 H TA

Sat., Oct. 15 @ Portland

Tues., Oct. 18 H MARSHWOOD

FIELD HOCKEY

Tues., Sept. 6 H WESTBROOK

Thurs., Sept. 8 @ Portland

Sat., Sept. 10 @ Massabesic

Mon., Sept. 12 H MARSHWOOD

Wed., Sept. 14 H KENNEBUNK

Fri., Sept. 16 H GORHAM

Tues., Sept. 20 @ Scarborough

Thurs., Sept. 22 @ McAuley

Mon., Sept. 26 H CHEVERUS

Wed., Sept. 28 @ Biddeford

Fri., Sept. 30 @ Sanford

Tues., Oct. 4 H WINDHAM

Thurs., Oct. 6 @ Deering

Wed., Oct. 12 H NOBLE

BOYS’ CROSS COUNTRY

Fri., Sept. 9 @ Massabesic (Scarborough)

Fri., Sept. 16 @ Gorham (Kennebunk)

Fri., Sept. 23 H NOBLE, WINDHAM

Wed., Sept. 28 H SANFORD, TA, WEST

Fri., Oct. 7 @ Marshwood (BE, Bidd)

Fri., Oct. 14 @

Sat., Oct. 22 Western A Regionals

Sat., Oct. 29 Class A States

GIRLS’ CROSS COUNTRY

Fri., Sept. 9 @ Massabesic (Scarborough)

Fri., Sept. 16 @ Gorham (Kennebunk)

Fri., Sept. 23 H NOBLE, WINDHAM

Wed., Sept. 28 H SANFORD, TA, WEST

Fri., Oct. 7 @ Marshwood (BE, Bidd)

Fri., Oct. 14 @ McAuley (Chev, Deer, Port)

Sat., Oct. 22 Western A Regionals

Sat., Oct. 29 Class A States

GOLF

Thurs., Sept. 1 H FALMOUTH

Tues., Sept. 6 @ Cheverus

Thurs., Sept. 8 H SCARBOROUGH

Mon., Sept. 12 H PORTLAND

Wed., Sept. 14 @ Deering

Mon., Sept. 19 @ Falmouth

Wed., Sept. 21 H CHEVERUS

Fri., Sept. 23 @ Scarborough

Tues., Sept. 27 @ Portland

Wed., Sept. 28 H DEERING

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