Skowhegan’s Adam Savage (10), Hunter McEwen, left, and teammates celebrate after the River Hawks beat Portland, 20-14, to win the Class B state championship on Nov. 19 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

As the 2022-2023 high school sports year is officially in the books, some quick-hit thoughts on some of the major topics on the central Maine sports scene:

  • While I’m certainly thankful (as I always am) for summer break to hit, I’m already counting the days to the upcoming high school football season. There are several questions to be asked heading into the season. How will Winslow and Maine Central Institute hold up after dropping down from Class C North to the new Class D North, after the latest reclassification? Will Class B North, which remained mostly intact, continue to be one of, if not the, most hotly contested conference in the state? How will defending Class B champion Skowhegan do, after several graduations and the transition to new head coach Brad Cyr? Camps are less than two months away and will be here before you know it.
  • The return of the fall season also means the return of the “Concession Beat.” My rankings of the area’s concession stands became one of, if not the, most popular column I’ve written. It certainly became a point of pride for fans and volunteers who do the behind-the-scenes work of a Friday night or Saturday afternoon, and it’s not going away anytime soon. And, of course, I end up being the real winner, with all the calories I’ll be consuming come September.
  • It’s rare, if ever, that the Skowhegan field hockey team has played the role of an underdog during its two-decade run of dominance in the state. But it was Cheverus that entered the 2022 Class A final as the favorite, after beating Skowhegan 4-1 in the state final in 2021. The River Hawks gained their revenge, with a 3-2 victory, to win their 20th Class A title. With most of its roster returning in 2023, Skowhegan will be anything but an underdog this fall.
  • If you enjoy distance running, make it a point next season to watch Orono’s Ruth White. A senior this fall, White is not only the fastest female distance runner in Maine, but she’s also been the fastest distance runner — both in cross country and outdoor track — in New England for the past two years. White will be a heavy favorite to repeat both wins and stamp her place among the greatest runners the state has produced.
  • Lawrence’s Hope Bouchard looks to shake Cony defender Abby Morrill during a Class A North semifinal game on Feb. 22 at the Augusta Civic Center. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

    The best leader in central Maine, arguably, during the 2022-2023 season was Hope Bouchard of Lawrence. A senior, Bouchard was the heart of not one, but two state title teams. Bouchard led the field hockey team to its first Class B title, while also winning the Miss Maine Field Hockey award, given out to the state’s top senior player. She then led the Bulldogs to a 58-43 win over Brunswick for the Class A girls basketball title, the program’s sixth. Bouchard’s contributions on the field and on the court will be long remembered in Fairfield.

  • It’s still amazes me that three of the state’s winningest boys hockey programs — Waterville, Winslow and Gardiner — have combined to form one team. The three programs – which own a combined 34 state titles – are far from the only co-op program in Maine. During the 2022-2023 season, 16 of the state’s 33 boys hockey programs were co-ops. But it might be the biggest example of the state’s falling numbers within the sport.
  • Nokomis’ Cooper Flagg (32) dunks the ball against Cony High during a Feb. 23, 2022 Class A North semifinal game at the Augusta Civic Center. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

    Cooper Flagg mania is still alive and well in Maine, in spite of the fact that the former Nokomis star is now playing, along with his brother Ace, at Montverde Academy in Florida. Cooper Flagg was recently ranked among the top Division I men’s basketball recruits for the Class of 2025 by, and has offers from Duke, UCLA, Michigan, West Virginia and Iowa, among others. Both brothers are home this summer and playing for the Maine United AAU team. The team recently hosted a skills clinic for 3rd-5th graders on June 24 at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, followed by an exhibition game against XLP. The Flaggs can still pull in attendance, too. Courtside seats for the game (a maximum of 40 seats) were sold for $50 apiece.

  • One of the more intriguing storylines of the 2023-2024 season will involve the Hall-Dale softball team. The Bulldogs won their third consecutive Class C title this spring and own a 56-game winning streak. With much of the roster returning next year, the Bulldogs will be a favorite in Class C again. But Hall-Dale will also be under new leadership, as head coach Steve Acedo moved to Texas immediately following the season.

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