Maranacook’s dominant two-year stint in Class C is over, opening the door for a new state champion for the first time since 2013.

While surveying the Mountain Valley Conference landscape for possible heirs to the thrown, defending conference champion Hall-Dale naturally comes to mind,

The Bulldogs lost to Maranacook in the regional finals both years and have played in three consecutive regionals. They graduated Kennebec Journal Player of the Year Nat Crocker but return eight starters. Seniors Ryan Sinclair and Tyler Dubois will be asked to take on Crocker’s play-making role. The lockdown defense, anchored by brothers Alex and Nick Guiou and seniors Quinn Stebbins and Tyler Berberich, remains largely the same, aside from new goalkeeper Andrew Peterson.

“Our defense and goalkeeping are solid,” Hall-Dale coach Andy Haskell said. “We have quickness up front and good overall team speed.”

Team speed wasn’t lacking at Monmouth, either, but the Mustangs still added quite a bit to it with senior striker Gage Cote, a transfer from Lewiston.

“He’s a legitimate all-star player,” Monmouth coach Joe Fletcher said.

Cote and the return of Hunter Richardson should help the Mustangs remain among the top teams in Southern C despite graduating a large senior class.

Darren Allen has returned to coach Mt. Abram after a seven-year hiatus and has the difficult task of teaching a new system and not allowing a team that graduated its top three scorers to feel the pressure to produce immediate goal-scoring results.

“It all depends on our senior leadership, and so far they’ve been fantastic,” Allen said.

Court Talmage, Luke Romanowski and Travis Chaput count among that relatively large senior group.

Carrabec enters rebuilding mode, counting on some raw underclassmen to fill the void left by six graduated starters. The Cobras do have an experienced core of seniors in Nick Sansone, Tyler Reichert, Brandon Dixon and goalie Trent Richardson, all four-year starters.

“We’ve got 24 kids, including nine freshmen coming in,” Carrabec coach P.J. Vicneire said. “It’s really very encouraging, but they need experience.”

Winthrop is also excited about the infusion of a dozen freshmen.

“We’re hoping this is going to be the norm,” Winthrop coach Marc Fortin said. “If we can keep those numbers coming, we can start building a pretty good program.”

The Ramblers lost all-conference goalkeeper Matt Sekerak to graduation. He will be replaced by former defender Zach Lynch. Much of the rest of the defense remains intact and is much quicker than usual. Regardless of how stout the defense is, though, the Ramblers will have to generate more than the five goals they scored last year.

CLASS D

Defending state champion Richmond graduated four players and is poised to make a run at a third consecutive regional title. But if anyone knows the perils of trying to repeat, it’s second-year coach Peter Gardner, who won six state and 10 regional titles at Brunswick.

“It’s not going to be the easiest thing in the world to repeat,” Gardner said. “But if they give the effort, that’s all I can ask.”

Twenty-goal scorer Brendan Emmons and fellow junior Cody Tribbett are back to spark the offense, while seniors Tyler Soucy, Nate Vintinner and Logan Anair anchor the back line.

Greenville moved to Northern D, but the Bobcats’ toughest competition in the region last year, Buckfield and Searsport, remain and should still serve as their biggest challengers.

Valley is optimistic about returning to the playoffs with the return of leading scorers Collin Miller and Cody Laweryson as well as a number of freshmen who saw varsity time as eighth graders.

“We should be a lot quicker than we were last year because I had to play almost all of my eighth graders,” Valley coach Scott Laweryson said. “My freshmen know what to expect.”

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