So much to do and so little time in which to do it. With regular season games less than three weeks away, high school athletes in golf, football, cross country, soccer and field hockey opened preseason practices Monday.

The three team sports each require special plays and strategy, none more complicated than football. At this point coaches try to lay down the basics and integrate more into the playbook as the season progresses.

“As a rule you’d like to get in two or three sets and a couple of multiple defenses,” Winthrop football coach Joel Stoneton said.

Stoneton is pleased that 39 players reported Monday out of a total school enrollment of 230 students. He may have to scale his preseason playbook back a page or two after graduating 16 seniors, though.

“We’re young,” he said. “A lot of them haven’t played together. We’ll try to get in a base defense.”

Problems are complicated by the fact Maine Principals’ Association rules don’t allow full contact practices until Wednesday morning. The Ramblers have a scrimmage scheduled at home Monday against Boothbay and their first exhibition game Aug. 26 at Old Orchard Beach.

Stoneton is looking at a pair of sophomores, Jared Allen and Austin Proctor, to play quarterback.

“They haven’t had any varsity reps,” Stoneton said. “The strength for us is going to be our line. We have three returning starters.”

Cony coach Robby Vachon is likewise looking at a new quarterback after graduating Luke Duncklee who accounted for 50 touchdowns in two seasons. The battle this season is between junior Chandler Shostak and sophomore Ben Lucas.

There’s a little added pressure on Vachon and the Rams since their first exhibition game, against rival Gardiner usually draws a few thousand fans.

“We pretty much have a system down where we install a certain amount of plays each day,” Vachon said. “By the time we get to the Gardiner game we have a good grasp of what we’re doing offensively.”

About 50 upper classmen tried out for the team Monday while only 14 freshmen came out. Vachon said he’ll wait to see if the school will play a freshman schedule or combine with the junior varsity.

• • •

After a whirlwind offseason, the Gardiner Area High School football program ushered in the Matt Burgess era Monday.

The school hired Burgess, 43, of Old Orchard Beach, in early July after a hectic offseason that began when former coach Jim Palmer resigned in the spring to become the athletic director at Oak Hill High School in Wales.

Gardiner subsequently hired Rick Lovely on June 17, but he resigned about a week later because of a health issue.

And that’s when Burgess –whose father John coached at Gardiner from the late 1970s to the early 1990s — came on board.

“I’m excited,” Burgess said during the first day of practice. “I couldn’t wait to get going.”

Burgess inherits a team that finished 8-3 last season and reached the Pine Tree Conference Class B championship game.

“We’re getting ready,” Burgess said. “It’s been good. The two-week waiting period was interesting, where we could have no contact with the guys. That was tough.”

The Tigers held two practices Monday, and Burgess said one of the goals this week is to implement the new offense.

“It’s not going to be all that different,” he said. “It’s more language stuff. We won’t make many wholesale changes.”

There are a few changes to the coaching staff this season.

Burgess added Lawrence High School graduate Mike Hersom, who played football at Husson University and graduated last spring. Hersom will coach the secondary and the skill position players. Keenan Blindow, a former Husson linebacker from Morgan, Vt., also joins Burgess’ staff. He will work with the freshman team.

Steve Lavallee, Mike Gammon and Charlie Lawrence, who were assistants last season, all returned.

“We’ve been tired of waiting, so it’s good to get going,” Burgess said.

• • •

Cony High School field hockey coach Holly Daigle welcomed 40 candidates for her team, knowing that she won’t likely be around for the playoffs.

Daigle is pregnant with her first child (a girl) and is due in mid-October.

“I’m looking forward to a great season and hopefully going to be around for the majority of it,” Daigle said. “So far I’ve been able to do everything as normal.”

If and when Daigle leaves, junior varsity coach Brittany O’Brien will take over.

• • •

Former Gardiner football and baseball coach Jim Palmer is well into his duties as athletic director at Oak Hill.

“I watched the football team practice ( Monday) to get my fill for football,” Palmer said. “I’ll miss coaching at Gardiner.”

Palmer got his baseball fix recently as a staff member at the Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek Baseball Camp at Stonehill College. Both Red Sox stars conducted clinics as did former Sox star Nomar Garciaparra and current team member Josh Reddick.

An athletic director’s duties are less apparent than those of a coach, Palmer said.

“It’s all the little things behind the scenes that you don’t see happening when your coaching,” he said.

• • •

Cony will host the Drive Out Cancer Challenge games with Gardiner this fall. Last year, the schools raised nearly $20,000 for the Alfond Cancer center in Augusta.

Every athlete on a fall team will be involved, Cony athletic director Paul Vachon said. The games begin Monday with a boys soccer game at 5:30 followed by girls soccer at 7. On Tuesday the field hockey teams will meet with the football teams scheduled for Friday at 7.

All games will be played at Alumni Field.

• • •

There are a number of new coaches in the area, including three at Oak Hill. Former Gardiner star Brittany Chadbourne, who coached at Morse last fall, takes over as head field hockey coach, replacing Betsy Gilbert. Chris Albert, who coached sub varsity at Lewiston, is the new boys soccer coach, replacing Chad Drouin. And Nicole Camire, who coached the junior varsity last year, is the new girls soccer coach, replacing Brant Remington.

Jon Millett takes over as boys soccer coach at Cony in place of Shawn Davis, while Jeff Hersey is the new girls coach. Millett coaches swimming and track at Cony while Hersey was JV coach for the girls.

At Hall-Dale, Andy Haskell replaces Steve Acedo as boys soccer coach while former Erskine junior varsity coach Mike Morin is the new girls soccer coach at Maranacook, replacing Peter Poulin who retired after 27 seasons.

Bill Stewart contributed to this report.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]


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