Southern edition Coaches of the Year

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For nearly a decade, the Scarborough football program languished in the wilderness.

This fall, Lance Johnson, in his first year as coach, nearly led the Red Storm to the Promised Land.

Johnson, a longtime assistant coach, proved he could handle Xs and Os quite fine, thank you, as the head man and guided Scarborough to its best season since joining Class A.

For enjoying so much success so quickly, for making the most of his opportunity and for hinting at even more glory to come, Lance Johnson is The Forecaster’s choice for our southern edition Fall 2010 Coach of the Year, of a boys’ team.

Johnson grew up in Portland, played football, hockey and baseball at Portland High and played two years of football at Bates College. After graduation, he returned to the Bulldogs and spent 21 years as Mike Bailey’s right-hand man, serving stints as offensive and defensive coordinator.

After waiting for the right head coaching opportunity, Johnson took over a Scarborough program which won just 10 of its 56 games since moving up to Class A in 2003 (a year after winning a Class B championship). The Red Storm believed they were ready to turn the corner, but what this year’s team accomplished came as a surprise to just about everyone.

Scarborough opened with a 33-29 come-from-behind win at Massabesic and never looked back, winning seven of eight contests to earn the No. 5 seed for the Western A playoffs. The Red Storm then went to storied Waterhouse Field and drubbed No. 4 Biddeford, 48-14, in the quarterfinals. Scarborough gave eventual state champion Cheverus fits in the semifinals, but fell a touchdown short, 21-14, as it wound up 8-2.

“I knew there was talent,” Johnson said. “I watched film and got really excited. It was a matter of getting the kids to believe. The summer was huge with different strength and conditioning training.”

“Coach Johnson was absolutely huge for us,” said senior standout Mike Cyr, a Fitzpatrick Trophy semifinalist and Scarborough’s Fall Male Athlete of the Year. “We had so much faith in him We knew we had talent, but it took him to come in and make us believe in ourselves.”

Johnson, widely respected around the league, pushed all the right buttons and got a group of players who hadn’t enjoyed much success to buy into his philosophy. The results were staggering and he was also named the Southern Maine Activities Association’s Coach of the Year.

Johnson, who has taught Alternative Education at Portland High for 16 years, lives in Buxton with his wife, Tara, and 15-year-old daughter Hannah, a field hockey player. He looks forward to continuing his program’s success in 2011 and hopes to continue coaching for the foreseeable future.

“I’ll coach until someone tells me it’s time to move on,” he said.

That doesn’t appear imminent. After the masterful job he did this past season, Lance Johnson, our Fall 2010 boys’ Coach of the Year, is being smothered with praise. Deservedly so.

2009 winner; Aaron Filieo (Cape Elizabeth football)

2008 winner: Mark Diaz (Scarborough soccer)

2007 winner: Steve Stinson (South Portland football)

2006 winner: Aaron Filieo (Cape Elizabeth football)

2005 winner: Mark Diaz (Scarborough soccer)

2004 winner: Jim Harmon (Scarborough cross country)

2003 winner: Mark Diaz (Scarborough soccer)

2002 winner: Jack Flynn (Scarborough football)

2001 winner: Jack Flynn (Scarborough football)



A year ago, the Scarborough girls’ soccer program appeared snakebitten, destined to fall agonizingly short of the Gold Ball year after year after year.

Did things ever change in 2010.

After several seasons of frustration, the Red Storm knew nothing but triumph and joy this fall, winning all 18 outings, including the first Class A state championship in program history. If that wasn’t enough, the team didn’t surrender a single goal during the normal run of play, a truly stunning statistic.

While the roster was full of talented and confident players, ultimately, much of the credit had to go to coach Mike Farley, who has persevered through some agonizing losses, yet kept the girls believing that this would be their year, which it was in every way.

For hanging tough, banging at the door until it finally burst open and for orchestrating one of the finest seasons in memory, Mike Farley gets The Forecaster’s nod as our southern edition Fall 2010 Coach of the Year, of a girls’ team.

Farley didn’t exactly grow up playing soccer in an affluent community. As the son of a military family, he lived in Italy for many years before going to high school in Montana, where he played soccer, football and basketball. He came to the University of New England in 1995 and played four years of soccer and two of lacrosse. On the pitch, Farley was part of a conference champion and Division III tournament team in 1998. He credited coaches Andy and Doug Biggs for his interest in coaching.

In fact, Farley began coaching as a college senior at UNE. He later spent time with the Odyssey Sport premier program before taking over at Scarborough in 2005.

“I like coaching girls,” Farley said. “They have more desire and eagerness to learn.”

The Red Storm entered the 2005 playoffs as the top-ranked team in Western A, but in what would become a trend, were upset by Cape Elizabeth in the quarterfinals. Scarborough got to the regional final in 2006, but lost at Gorham. First round losses followed in 2007, 2008 and 2009, with the latter being the worst of all (falling to Marshwood in another ouster as a top seed).

While the Red Storm entered 2010 highly touted, Farley knew and admitted from the get-go that the team would be measured on its playoff performance and this time, everything went perfectly.

Scarborough turned the corner early with a dramatic overtime win at nemesis Gorham. The shutout wins continued until there were 14 in all, resulting in the top seed for the playoffs. After Cape Elizabeth (which twice eliminated the Red Storm in recent postseasons) played it to a scoreless tie through the first half of the quarterfinals, Scarborough got the monkey off its back with two second half goals. Farley admitted later that the game was the most nervous he’d ever been as a coach or player.

The Red Storm beat Cheverus in the semifinals (giving up their only goal of the season, on a penalty kick) and eliminated defending regional champion Thornton Academy in the Western A Final to punch their ticket to states. There, Scarborough punctuated its dazzling campaign with an overwhelming performance in a 3-0 win over Bangor.

The demons had been exorcised and the Red Storm truly had no peer.

“We had great balance,” Farley said. “The kids were so unselfish. It was a 24-player effort to make what happened this year.”

Farley capped his year by coaching in the Senior Bowl (naturally, a win for his team, the West) and last weekend was named the girls’ Western Maine Coach of the Year by his peers and also the NSCAA New England Region 1 girls’ large school Coach of the Year..

He lives in Cumberland with his wife and works for a company in Scarborough as well as owning a cleaning business and apartment buildings.

The Red Storm certainly cleaned up this season. One of the most memorable teams in state girls’ soccer history had a tremendous leader at the helm. Mike Farley, our Fall 2010 girls’ Coach of the Year, proved that from disappointment can come well deserved glory.

2009 winner: Kerry Mariello (Scarborough field hockey)

2008 winner: Ron Kelly (Scarborough cross country)

2007 winner: Kerry Mariello (Scarborough field hockey)

2006 winner: Jody King (Scarborough volleyball)

2005 winner: Mary Ann Doss (Cape Elizabeth cross country)

2004 winner: Kerry Mariello (Scarborough field hockey)

2003 winner: Mary Ann Doss (Cape Elizabeth cross country)

2002 winner: Maureen Curran (South Portland field hockey)

2001 winner: Erin McLaughlin (Scarborough field hockey)

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