Coach: Steve Stinson (11th year, 33-52 overall record)
2014 results: 5-4 (Lost, 34-20, to Biddeford in Western A quarterfinals)
Top returners: Chris Green (Senior), Danny Guiliani (Senior), Jordin Jackson (Senior), Nick Mezzanotte (Senior), Aaron Radziucz (Senior), Dylan Rottkov (Senior), Doc Roberts (Junior)
Pivotal games: Sept. 4 @ Bonny Eagle, Sept. 25 DEERING, Oct. 2 BANGOR, Oct. 9 @ Scarborough, Oct. 16 TA, Oct. 23 @ Portland
Coach’s comment: “We graduated Owen, Muller and Stearns, but we brought back a lot of linemen. We had a great summer. We’re huge. We’re extremely big and physical on both sides of the ball. Fundamentally sound. We’ll stop the run on defense and move the ball on offense. We’re the smallest Class A team, but we’re scrappy. That’s a testament to the players, coaches and community.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: Last fall, as was the case in 2013, South Portland earned the No. 3 seed, but was upset at home in its first playoff outing. This season, the big, strong and hungry Red Riots could be the team best equipped to dethrone Thornton Academy, but a lot of pieces will have to fall into place. South Portland is in a very challenging region, but is optimistic is can compete with everyone.
Look for junior Matt Crockett to take over under center. The transfer from Brewer has quite the supporting cast around him. Running backs include Mezzanotte (who could also play quarterback), junior Devin Dupis (a transfer from Mountain Valley) and sophomores Spencer Houlette and Zack Johnson. Top receivers project to be Rottkov, senior Joe Motumbo (a 6-foot-5-inch transfer from Gorham) and junior Finn Zechman. The line is imposing and features Green, Guiliani, Jackson and Radziucz.
On defense, South Portland will be feature size up front in the form of Guiliani, Jackson, Motumbo and Radziucz. The linebacking corps is led by Green. Roberts will also be heard from at that position. In the secondary, Mezzanotte, Rottkov and Zechman will hold down the fort.
Southern Class A isn’t an easy region to navigate and the Red Riots will be tested virtually every time out. This team is primed to compete, however. The offense could be prolific and the defense is built to cause frustration. South Portland will be in the mix for a high playoff seed, but it’s time for this squad to take the next step. If the Red Riots can get past the quarterfinal round, they might not be finished for awhile.
Coach: Bryan Hoy (ninth year, 70-42-13 overall record)
2014 results: 10-5-2 (Lost, 2-1, 5-4 PKs, to eventual state champion Cheverus in Western A semifinals)
Top returning players: Kervens Anthoine (Senior), Drew Bradbury (Senior), Gary Maietta (Senior), Ahmed Suja (Senior), Patrick Graff (Junior), Khalid Suja (Junior)
Pivotal games: Sept. 9 @ Deering, Sept. 12 GORHAM, Sept. 17 @ Scarborough, Sept. 29 @ Portland, Oct. 6 TA, Oct. 8 @ Cheverus
Coach’s comment: “Returning two of the top goal scoring options from a season ago, as well as the emergence of sophomores Liam Coyne and Charlie Cronin, should leave us with plenty of offensive firepower. Defensively is where we could struggle. We graduated three of our four starting backs and our goalkeeper. Our one returning starter on defense, Brian Elsemore, suffered a horrific knee injury in the lacrosse state final that will keep him on the shelf the entire season. So we’re replacing our back five players. Goalkeeper Riley Hasson comes into the season with a little varsity experience, but has made great strides in improving his craft for this season. Gary Maietta will shift from mid to center-back in place of Elsemore. Patrick Graff and Princiel Kunieki have had strong showing in the summer and preseason and should help solidify our defense. Incoming freshman Alecks Kaurin could also step in to a large role defensively. Khalid Suja, who plays a defensive center-mid, has improved his defense and is one of the most dangerous free-kick specialists in the conference.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: Had a couple penalty kicks gone differently, it could have been South Portland winning an improbable state title a year ago, not Cheverus. That experience creates hunger for the upcoming season, but the Red Riots’ hopes have been compromised by graduation and injury on the defensive side. Not only did reigning Fall (and Spring) Male Athlete of the Year, goalkeeper Henry Curran, graduate, but three defenders also departed and Elsemore, the expected defensive stalwart, won’t be available. There’s no question this group will score goals, just how far South Portland can go will ride on negating the opposition.
Ahmed Suja, an All-State selection in 2014, will be a top offensive threat again this fall (he scored 14 goals last season). Antoine (10 goals in 2014) will also cause headaches for the opposition. Bradbury, Khalid Suja (a honorable mention league all-star last fall and this year’s free kick specialist), sophomore Charlie Cronin and newcomer Liam Coyne are other scoring options. While scoring goals isn’t a concern, shutting down the opposition is. Graff and Maietta, along with newcomers Alecks Kaurin and Princel Kunieki, will look to fill the defensive holes and make the transition as easy as possible for sophomore goalkeeper Riley Hasson, who replaces Curran.
The Red Riots have made the playoffs in each of Hoy’s eight seasons. This fall could be a lot like 2014, in that several squads could make a deep playoff run. If South Portland produces as expected on offense and if the defense can get up to speed, don’t be surprised if the Red Riots are the team turning heads this postseason.
Coach: Jeff Selser (second year)
2014 record: 2-11-1 (no postseason)
Top returners: Emma Benington (Senior), Baleigh Burns (Senior), Mary Cronin (Senior), Callie O’Brien (Junior), Abby Richardson (Junior), Juliana Selser (Sophomore)
Pivotal games: Sept. 9 DEERING, Sept. 12 @ Gorham, Sept. 19 @ Scarborough, Sept. 30 PORTLAND, Oct. 7 @ TA, Oct. 10 CHEVERUS, Oct. 17 @ Windham
Coach’s comment: “We are entering the second year of a multi-year overhaul of the program. A new style of play, new approach to the game, top to bottom reworking of the system. Last year we made good progress on the field, but it did not translate to success on the scoreboard. This year, we hope to align the gains we are making in our level of play with the results in the scorebook. That being said, the most important thing for us is that we keep our eye on the end goal, sustainable excellence. Our focus remains on developing our brand of soccer and our hope is that it will take us back to the playoffs this year. If things fall our way, we could make a surprise run in late October/early November.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland was more competitive last year than its record suggests, as four games were lost by one goal or two. Had the Red Riots won those, they would have made the playoffs. This year’s team has plenty of promise and South Portland could make a move up the standings and reach the postseason for the first time since 2012.
This year’s offense needs to step it up after scoring just 10 goals in 14 games last autumn and will likely see production from the speedy O’Brien, the top returning scorer, Selser, who has great vision and never hesitates to set up her teammates, Cronin, a captain, and Richardson, who missed much of the 2014 season, but should play a much bigger role this time around. New sophomores Sophie Chase, Paige Fleming and Meghan Graff add depth and will give opposing defenses more to worry about. Defensively, captains Benington and Burns won’t only hold the opposition at bay, but will also help with the transition to offense. Junior Zoe Brown replaces Emma Russell in goal. Brown showed promise with the junior varsity team a year ago and appears up for the challenge.
Don’t be surprised if South Portland is the team that’s the big mover this fall. There isn’t much buzz around this squad, but if the Red Riots finish the opportunities they let slip away a year ago, they’ll make a run at a winning record and a playoff spot. The present is promising and the future is bright. You’ll be hearing a lot about this team in the weeks and years to come.
Coach: Leslie Dyer (fourth year, 11-30-2 overall record)
2014 record: 5-10 (Lost, 4-0, to Falmouth in Western A preliminary round)
Top returners: Grace Chitam (Senior), Maddie Hasson (Senior), Sophia Cummings (Junior), Lydia Henderson (Junior), Amelia Papi (Junior), Bonge Lako (Sophomore)
Pivotal games: Sept. 2 @ Gorham, Sept. 4 MARSHWOOD, Sept. 8 @ Cheverus, Sept. 10 DEERING, Sept. 18 @ Westbrook, Sept. 28 TA, Sept. 30 @ Sanford, Oct. 2 @ Scarborough, Oct. 9 @Portland
Coach’s comment: “This is the first year that I’ve returned my team. Everybody is a year older and wiser. My bench was all freshmen last year. A lot of the juniors are starting their third year on varsity. I want the girls to be scrappier. I want them to come out confident and hungry from day one. Consistency has been our issue. I hope we can clear that up this year. We’ll find out quickly how good we are.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland was a fun team to watch in 2014. The Red Riots started 1-9 and appeared dead in the water, but hit their stride, won their final four games and by virtue of a victory over Cheverus in the finale, qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2010. South Portland returns plenty of talent and this fall, the Red Riots aren’t just looking to make the playoffs, but to stay awhile.
South Portland’s offense will be led by Hasson (a first-team league all-star in 2014), Henderson and Lako. Papi will play a bigger role this fall and Cummings and freshman Molly Walker should figure into the scoring mix as well. Junior Molly Skeffington, who missed last season with a knee injury, is back and healthy and will help anchor the defense. Freshman Kiley Callow is another defender to watch. Chitam, a second-team all-star last autumn, is back for a final season in goal. She’s steady and confident.
The Red Riots finished last season on a high note, but it’s a new year. This group needs to start strong and sustain its success. If South Portland can gain some early confidence, it could wind up being one of the top contenders in Southern Class A. In a season that appears devoid of a favorite in the region, the sky is the limit.
Coach: Nicole McAllister (first year)
2014 record: 4-10 (no postseason)
Top returner: Molly Mawhinney (Sophomore)
Pivotal matches: Sept. 4 @ TA, Sept. 8 CHEVERUS, Sept. 12 PORTLAND, Sept. 17 DEERING, Sept. 29 @ Portland, Oct. 13 TA, Oct. 15 @ Cheverus, Oct. 17 @ Bonny Eagle
Coach’s comment: “This will definitely be a growing season. We only have three players with varsity experience returning to the team. We are looking for our underclassmen to step into some key roles. All of our girls have shown a lot of hard work and dedication during preseason, so I can’t wait to see them compete. Our schedule has us facing a good group of newer programs similar to ours. These will be good opportunities to benchmark our progress compared to other newer programs. We also play other more established programs which will be a good challenge to see how far we’ve come and where we hope to be. With this developing team, we see all games as key.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland fell short of the playoffs a year ago, but got progressively more competitive as the season progressed, following an 0-5 start with a 4-5 finish. The Red Riots welcome a new coach this fall in McAllister, who played at Yarmouth High and at Emmanuel College in Boston. She’s served as an assistant coach at Husson University and as a club coach with Boom volleyball. She’ll still an active player as well. McAllister knows that it will take a few years for South Portland to get to a level where it can compete with established powers, but there are reasons for fans to get excited about the season to come.
Mawhinney is the top returner. After that, there are plenty of spots to fill, so look for several untested players to seize their opportunity.
South Portland will be able to compete in virtually all of its matches and with the many newer programs on the slate, could exceed last year’s win total. This is a team on the rise. Whatever success the Red Riots achieve this fall will be eclipsed by future editions.
(Boys): Dave Kahill (fourth year)
(Girls): Karen Reardon (13th year)
(Boys) No score @ Class A state meet (12th @ regionals)
(Girls) 6th @ Class A state meet
(Boys) Gavin Damian-Loring (Senior), Jake Maloney (Senior), Xander Keiter (Junior), Brad Mileson (Junior), Steven Smith (Junior), Dan Woodhouse (Junior), Josh Hyssong (Sophomore), Lionel Whitehead (Sophomore)
(Girls): Casey Loring (Senior), Abby Donahue (Junior), Toia Francis (Junior), Phoebe Letourneau (Junior), Serena McKenzie (Junior), Dephi Bourassa (Sophomore), Jenny DiPhilippo (Sophomore)
Top foes: Massabesic, Scarborough, Westbrook, Windham
Coach Kahill’s comment: “We have a very strong core of runners and should be competitive in throughout the regular season and championship meets. Xander, Steven, Gavin, Jake, Brad and Dan have worked hard during the off-season are in great shape. John Sullivan, Josh Hyssong, and Lionel Whitehead are talented sophomores who will add depth to the varsity team. Additionally, Noah Blake, a sprinter on the indoor and outdoor teams, is coming off of shoulder surgery and will add even more enthusiasm and quality character to the team.”
Coach Reardon’s comment: “We have graduated several good runners over the past few years but continue to have a good returning group. Casey and Serena are two of the top returning runners in Class A and Delphi finished 38th as a freshman. Eileen Porterfield looks to be challenging for a spot in the top five, along with Jenny DiPhilippo, Thaovy Duong, and Abby Donahue. Last year, we were sixth as a team at the state meet with a 33 point gap between our fourth and fifth runners. This year, we are working hard to close that gap and run as tight as a team as we can. It’s still early, but the group shows great promise regarding the ability to do that. We have plenty of good competition in our league, so we will have numerous opportunities to practice our pack running prior to the state championships. Right now we are all about laying the foundation for what we want to do in October. It should be a fun and exciting season. We always make our first goal to qualify our team for the state championships and improve our performance over the previous year. We have been sixth the last three years, so we’d like to improve on that finish this year and change that number in the forward direction.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: After five straight seasons of both teams qualifying for states, South Portland sent only the girls’ team in 2014. This fall, it wouldn’t be surprising to see both squads qualify and do very well.
The boys return Damian-Loring, who qualified for states as an individual last fall, placing 28th. He’ll lead the way. Other runners to watch include Smith (88th at last year’s regional meet) and Keiter (103rd). They’re joined by Hysson, Maloney, Mileson, Whitehead and Woodhouse, who look to grab spots. Indoor and outdoor track stalwart Noah Blake and sophomore Josh Sullivan are top newcomers. Look for the Red Riots to be competitive in the league, qualify for states and post a strong finish.
On the girls’ side, Loring is the top returner. She was sixth at states a year ago and was named Fall Female Athlete of the Year. McKenzie is a top 10 runner. Bourassa (33rd last year) and DiPhilipo (74th) also scored at states in 2014. Donahue and Francis look to move up. Letourneau, junior Thaovy Duong (who is back from injury), junior Taylor Nappi (who is up from the junior varsity team), sophomore Ling Bol (a former JV runner) and freshman Eileen Porterfield are also in the mix. After three straight sixth place finishes, don’t be surprised if South Portland ascends to the top five at states this time around.
Coach: Tom Hyland (fourth year)
2014 results: 2-8 (no postseason)
Top returner: Matt Pelletier (Senior)
Top foes: Cheverus, Falmouth, Portland, Scarborough
Coach’s comment: “I look forward to another season on the links with the kids. We have a spirited group that is working hard thus far and making substantial improvements. A group of three very promising sophomores have made great strides in the offseason and will all play in the top six rotation for us this year. They are fine players and even finer young men that will form our nucleus for the next three years. Our division is arguably the toughest in Maine, but having said that, our team has grown in character and resiliency over the past three years and we get better by playing the best. We will certainly try to surpass our win total from last year and keep the program moving forward with fierce competitiveness, tenacity and respectability.”
The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland hopes to improve in the weeks to come, but that growth might not be obvious considering the Red Riots play in the toughest division in the state, one which also features powerhouses Cheverus and Falmouth and defending Class A champion Scarborough.
Pelletier shot an 89 at last year’s SMAA qualifier and will be a team captain and the No. 1 player. Sophomores Daniel Mickiewicz (99 at last year’s qualifier) and Noah McHugh (101) look to move up. Senior Sam DePaulo, who didn’t play last year, is back to provide depth. Seniors Jacob Boles and Robbie Plummer and sophomore Aiden Schifano are another golfers to watch.
South Portland hopes to turn heads not only in the regular season, but at the qualifier as well. While the Red Riots are a longshot to reach the state match, don’t be surprised if a few individuals earn their opportunity.
Sophomore Riley Hasson saw limited time in goal last season and will look to fill the big shoes of Henry Curran this year.
Senior Baleigh Burns will help anchor South Portland’s defense this fall.
Senior Mary Cronin returns to help pace the offense.
The speedy Juliana Selser made an impact as a freshman and figures to be a top scorer for the Red Riots this autumn.
Junior Sophia Cummings and her field hockey teammates look to get back to the playoffs this fall.
Senior Maddie Hasson figures to be in for a big final high school campaign.
Junior Lydia Henderson is an emerging star with a penchant for clutch goals.
Casey Loring placed sixth at the Class A girls’ cross country meet a year ago.
Standout senior Ahmed Suja and his South Portland boys’ soccer teammates hope for another deep playoff run this fall.