Class C preview
Many people viewed Leavitt as the 2013 Class C champion before they even played a regular season game based on their Class B success. And while Leavitt’s run to the state champion was mostly one-sided, the gap between them and the rest of Class C should be narrowed as they graduated a large number of seniors last spring. Seniors who played important roles on a team that scored the second-most points and allowed the fewest points in all of Class C. Although time will show us what to expect from the Hornets, there are plenty of contenders coming into 2014 that have compelling reasons why they should earn consideration for the Golden Ball.
New coaches on the sideline will be seen in Gray-New Gloucester (Mark Renna), Hermon (Brad Deuring), Mountain Valley (Steve LaPointe), Old Town (Lance Cowan), Waterville (Matt Gilley), and Yarmouth (Jason Veilleux).
Games of interest in Class C
September 5th - Cape Elizabeth at Leavitt
September 19th - Winslow at Mount Desert Island
October 11th - Mount Desert Island at Waterville
October 18th - Waterville at Winslow
October 24th - Spruce Mountain at Leavitt
Winslow and Waterville still look to be the favorites of Eastern Class C. Winslow continues to find ways to win with an imposing ground game and a tough defense. Waterville’s offense was among the top in state. Now with a new head coach, Matt Gilley will be tasked with taking this team and bringing them back to the state championship for the first time in 20 years. Mount Desert Island has always been a good team but just haven’t been able to get over that hump. If Winslow or Waterville falters, MDI will be the team to move forward. Foxcroft Academy failed to advance to the semifinals for the first time in over a decade. A year in the new Class C has given them an opportunity to familiarize themselves with new opponents. Belfast, Old Town, Madison/Carrabec, and Hermon will all be competing for those final two playoff spots in the East. Old Town has a new coach and a renovated Victory Field. Hermon is trying to make the playoffs for the first time in their varsity program history and has nowhere to go up but after an 0-8 season. Belfast is still that team who finds a way to win and surprise people along the way. With Nokomis and Camden Hills ineligible for the playoffs, they’ll continue their build towards the next enrollment cycle.
Even with a graduating class that played a major role in their 2013 title and a rebuilding effort underway, Leavitt still has the talent to be a favorite in 2014. In the third year since the Jay/Livermore Falls school district merger, Spruce Mountain played up to their community’s expectations to bring the Gold Ball home. Cape Elizabeth is another team that’s been talked about as a favorite in Western Class C. Wells has dropped back a bit further in the third year removed from their 2011 Class B championship. Yarmouth earned some looks with one of the top defenses in Class C and may be a dark horse contender if Wells or Cape Elizabeth struggle. The final spot could come down to last year’s sixth place team Freeport, a Poland team that looks to be on the rise, Mountain Valley which has a new coach for the first time in the Falcons football program history, Lake Region which had one of the better years in the last few years, and Gray-New Gloucester led by new head coach Mark Renna.
Class D preview
When we last checked in with the revived Class D on November 23rd, 2013 it was Oak Hill proudly hoisting the Gold Ball as champions by defeating Bucksport 42-35. Since that time the conference will have some unique features compared to the other three conferences.
Two new teams will be added into the mix for the Eastern conference. Houlton received varsity sanctioning for 2014 after playing the last few years in the 8-man Aroostook Football League and a junior varsity schedule. With an odd number of teams in the LTC, it was agreed upon that Medomak Valley would be allowed to play non-countable varsity games this year. To accompany the odd number of teams, the conference will play their first 9-game schedule since 2007. However 8 of those games will be countable in the standings. Four teams will qualify for the playoffs.
Meanwhile in the West Sacopee Valley announced that they would drop their varsity football program for 2014 due to low enrollment numbers. To try and continue having football for those kids that stayed on, an agreement was reached where they would continue to play their planned schedule but it would not be countable in the standings. The coaches agreed to keep the schedule as it was created, meaning that every team would continue to play 8 games in the regular season. However everyone but Oak Hill would only get seven countable games in the standings and Oak Hill would have eight countable games. Their playoff structure would remain unchanged – eight teams would still qualify for the Western Class D playoffs.
New coaches on the sideline will be seen in Dirigo (Jim Hersom), Stearns (John Jarmo), and Winthrop/Monmouth (Dave St. Hilaire).
Games of interest in Class D
September 6th - Winthrop/Monmouth at Lisbon (playing in Brunswick)
September 13th - Dirigo at Oak Hill
September 19th - Bucksport at Maine Central Institute
September 26th - Oak Hill at Winthrop/Monmouth
October 17th - Lisbon at Dirigo
Bucksport still looks to be the top team in the East and that speaks to the depth in the community. Maine Central Institute and Mattanawcook were pleasant surprises and 2013 and we’ll be interested in seeing if they can keep up that form. After that it’ll be up to someone else to step up into that fourth place void. Orono has been on the cusp of breaking out. With only four teams making the Eastern D playoffs no one will be able to ease in. John Bapst, Dexter, Washington Academy, Mount View, and Houlton will be in the battle to try to unseat Orono from the final playoff spot. Ellsworth/Sumner meanwhile will still be trying to earn their first varsity victory and Medomak Valley will dip their toes into the LTC pool in preparation for a likely varsity schedule in 2015.
Despite a few minor changes, the West looks to be unchanged from last year. Oak Hill’s title victory was the culmination of lots of hard work and a dedication to the football program by the community. And they still look to be amongst the favorites to win the title. Winthrop/Monmouth had quite the run with an undefeated regular season before their season ended prematurely against Dirigo. They proved the co-op teams work and can succeed. Now people will look to see if Dave St. Hilaire can build upon Joel Stoneton’s work from the previous year. Speaking of Dirigo, they’ve gone under the radar the past two years yet appeared in the regional final featuring one of the stingiest defenses in their class. Lisbon is getting attention for a strong senior class. Boothbay, Maranacook, Old Orchard Beach, Telstar, Traip Academy will be contenders for being the lone team out of the playoffs.