For the first two years of his high school golfing career, Eric Dugas played in the shadow of his older brother, Gavin. The brothers helped the Huskies contend for the state Class B title while Gavin won the individual state championship in 2014.

After his brother graduated in the spring 2015, Eric started to emerge from his shadow. He led his team to a third-place finish in the team championships and finished tied for third for individual honors. Now a senior, he will try to duplicate his brother’s feat and earn a state championship of his own.

“He’s one of the better golfers in the state and he’s going to go for the individual (state title),” MCI coach Paul Greco said.

With several of the top golfers in central Maine calling it a career, teams will be counting on some of their remaining talent to emerge from the shadows in 2016.

With Dugas and another state title contender, senior Carter Pearl, plus three more of their top six golfers back, MCI hopes to escape the shadow of southern Maine teams that have dominated Class B. Sophomores Anna Smith and Avery Gosselin have improved after impressive rookie debuts. But the Huskies are lacking the numbers and depth they’ve enjoyed for previous runs at state supremacy.

“I’ve got confidence in our five and I’m going to ride them out,” Greco said.

Erskine is hoping to move up in the Class B ranks after graduating just one senior and returning its top five golfers. The Eagles played solid golf the last couple of years but are hoping to break their habit of finishing just out of contention in their class and the KVAC.

“We’ve been good enough to make it (to states) but just not get into that upper-echelon,” Erskine coach Mark Bailey said. “With Connor (Paine), we’re hoping he can be that one low scorer and if we get steady play from Justin Browne, Aaron Pion or Robert Harmon, it can get us out of those fourth and fifth-place finishes.”

Gardiner has one of the larger rosters in Class B with 19 players, including an unprecedented five girls. But they graduated a large senior class so it will take some time to develop some of the depth that made them KVAC contenders.

Winthrop remained in contention after winning Class C in 2014, finishing third at states last year. The Ramblers will feel the graduation of No. 1 golfer Anthony Owens, but coach Lonney Steeves has three seniors who he thinks can share that role — Charlie deHaas, Brogan Plossay and Zac Robertson.

“We’ve always had that guy going in who you knew was going to be your leader on the golf course,” Steeves said. “This year, I’ve got three guys and every day one of them is a potential medalist.”

The Ramblers will still be among the favorites in a new look Mountain Valley Conference that lost perennial power St. Dominic and will play a schedule featuring three-way matches. Dirigo and Madison should figure to battle Winthrop for the conference title.

Madison played some of its best golf at the end of last season and reached the MVC semifinals thanks to the emergence of underclassmen such as Broc Campbell. He is back to lead a Bulldogs team that will be looking for some depth from a quartet of freshmen to bolster Campbell and fellow seniors Caleb Harper, Logan Smith and Allison Deane and junior Noah Cowan.

“The returning kids have the scoring spots and the freshmen will fight for No. 4 or 5,” coach Heath Cowan said. “It’s going to be whoever are the kids to figure it out the quickest.”

Carrabec and Oak Hill figure to be improved after finishing in the middle of the MVC pack last year.

In Class A, Messalonskee graduated Dylan Burton and Billy Rollins, who were second and third at Class A individuals, respectively, and led the Eagles to fourth place at the team championships. No. 3 Jared Cunningham also graduated.

“We’re very young,” coach Jim Kerschner said. “It’s the youngest team I’ve had in a number of years, but we do have some experience, which could be good in the long run.”

Much of the experience comes from juniors Jacob Bernatchez and Blake Marden, who Kerschner said are comparable to Burton and Rollins as juniors. Junior Connor Ferguson and seniors Spencer Bishop and Jacob Bouchard will be asked to fill the roles they held last year.

Nokomis has five players back from a frustrating winless 2014. The Warriors came close to getting into the win column in several of those matches, and the hope is the maturation of juniors Kobe Ramsdell and Josh Smestad and sophomore Samuel Smestad can help them break through.

“I’m not necessarily sure I have a lot of golfers, but they’re great athletes and very coachable kids,” coach Matt Brown said.

Junior Colby Esty, who played in the state championship last year, leads Skowhegan’s bid for contention in the KVAC. Coach Dave Martin has veterans Cole Bloom, Alex Higgins and Kyle Jacques to fill his next three spots and is looking for a large contingent of sophomores and freshmen to fill out the match rotation.

Cony coach Shawn Johnson hopes a battle for the 5-13 spots in the program will promote the kind of competition that lifts all boats. Senior Steve Goulette and junior Jacob Dacus were surprises in preseason.

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