The Belfast Area High School golf team experienced a stellar season last year and proved it during the regular season, conference championship and state competitions. This year, the Lions hope to repeat that success — and then some.

Led by coach Chip Lagerbom, the Lions are out to prove they are again the top team in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B South Division. And with one of the top golfers in the state, along with a seasoned supporting cast, the Lions may have the team to do just that.

Belfast consists of seniors Steven Simmons, Clint Fraser and Dustin Howes; juniors Jamie Jackson, Tyler McDevitt and Jordan Luther; sophomores Tim Sticht, Allie Njaa and Jack Smith; and freshman Grant Starrett.

Lost to graduation from last season was A.J. Chasse.

Last year, the Lions were the top team in the KVAC Class B South Division, roaring to a 7-3 regular-season record before tying for second place in the conference championships. Belfast then advanced to the state Class B championships, where it finished sixth overall and proved to be the top team in Eastern Class B.

“We like our chances this year,” said Lagerbom. “Most of our returning players have been playing all summer, and they’ve got some good expectations of what we’re capable of doing.”

Jackson, the team’s top golfer, also qualified for the state individual schoolboy championships and played a sensational round, shooting a 77 and finishing second in the state. He could be considered a favorite to vie for the individual title again this year, was undefeated in regular season play and was the medalist at last year’s KVAC championships.

“He’s been solid,” the coach said. “He’s played a ton this summer and qualified for the New Englands last year because he was the runner-up in the boys individuals as a sophomore. That’s pretty impressive. He’s put a good summer together, he’s developed a cut shot so that’s another tool in his bag. He’s definitely going to help lead the team.”

While it is no secret that Jackson is arguable the top golfer in the conference, the high school golf game is not won with simply one elite player, but rather an entire team. And in that regard, the South Division will likely be competitive this season.

“I think the KVAC is wide open,” said Lagerbom. “It’s up for grabs. It always depends on how much of the summer the kids put into their games. But, like I said before, we like our chances.”

Lagerbom was mum on how the rest of the team’s ladder would shake out, but added that he has “about three or four that are all vying for those spots.”

Lagerbom said that other than working on their games from 50 yards and in, which is a common forte most need to work on at the high school level, Lagerbom added that course management is another aspect of the game his Lions need to focus on should they hope to take the next step on the links this season.

“They need to learn how to play certain situations in a smart way [and] in a safe way,” he said. “To stay out of trouble, to not compound a mistake, that sort of thing. So if we can do that and not tack on any unnecessary strokes, we’ll be tough to beat. We try to work on putting good shots together for good holes and good holes together for good rounds.”

The Lions will look to put their first good round together on the Rockland Golf Course Tuesday, Aug. 31 at 3:30 p.m. when they open the regular season against host Rockland.

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.