High school football

Lions' roar should be heard loud, clear in Eastern Class C

By Staff | Sep 03, 2014

Belfast — The following is a synopsis of the 2014 Belfast Area High School football team:

Coach/years coached current team: Chris Bartlett, sixth year.

Last year's record/playoff information: 5-3, fifth seed in Eastern Class C. The Lions beat No. 4 Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft 26-13 in the quarterfinals and were downed by No. 1 Winslow 39-14 in the semifinals.

Roster: Seniors Austin Sprague (defensive end, tight end), Dan Bowen (defensive end, offensive line), Josh Chase (defensive tackle, offensive line), Steven Davis (defensive back, running back), Matt Smith (defensive end, offensive line) and Brandon Waterman (linebacker, wing back); juniors Alex Canning (linebacker, running back), Emery Dinsmore (defensive back, wing back), Nathan Dunton (defensive tackle, offensive line), Logan Fitzjurls (linebacker, wing back), Andrew Goguen (defensive end, tight end), Jared Hansen (linebacker, tight end), Arius Hipos (defensive back, wing back), Brian Lowe (defensive back, wing back), Drew Nealey (defensive back, quarterback), Billy Pantoja (linebacker, offensive line), Brandon Porter (linebacker, running back), Collin Whitney (defensive end, tight end) and Reid Whitney (defensive tackle, tight end); sophomores Caleb Ackley (defensive tackle, offensive line), Craig Brown (nose guard, offensive line), Jacob Harford (defensive tackle, offensive line), Caleb Hilt (linebacker, offensive line), Edwin Johnson (defensive tackle, offensive line), Mikhail Kroening (defensive tackle, offensive line), Simon Lacasse (defensive line, offensive line), Tyler Macleod (defensive back, running back), Jordan Munro (defensive back, wing back), Zach Ramsay (defensive tackle, offensive line), Tristan Roberts (linebacker, quarterback), Grant Stupca (defensive tackle, offensive line), Travis Tran (defensive tackle, offensive line) and Derrick Tyler (defensive back, running back); and freshmen Zach Bormet (defensive tackle, offensive tackle), Brandon Butler (defensive end, offensive line), Grey Dinsmore (linebacker, quarterback), Connor Gould (defensive back, wing back), Konnor Harford (defensive tackle, offensive line), Taylor Kinney (defensive end, tight end), Jacob Racioppi (linebacker, running back), Nick Salvatore (linebacker, tight end), Chris Thayer (defensive back, running back), Jacob Waterman (linebacker, running back) and Hosler Whitney (defensive tackle, offensive line).

Known graduation losses: Zach Collier, Tyler Tran, Mike McFadden, Ashley Littlefield, Devin Richards, Brandon Ray, Greg Clark, Baxter Smith, Will Mossing, Noah Klewin, Mike Reynolds, Korey Doolan and Zach Herbig

Significant impact players: Nealey, Davis, Canning, Emery Dinsmore, Goguen, Hansen, Smith and Chase.

Team strengths: Athleticism, speed, size and depth.

Team goals: To improve every day and to finish better than last year.

Top league opponents: “Everyone in this league is going to be tough this year, there are no gimmes,” said Bartlett. “The teams that have been in the bottom over the past few years have gotten a lot better and add to the strength of the league. We have to bring our 'A' game every day.”

Outlook: Belfast graduated several key players from last year's team, including running backs Clark and McFadden, along with Littlefield, the newly-crowned Courier Publications schoolgirl athlete of the year. But perhaps the most notable graduation loss was Collier, who, as the team's quarterback, ran the show under center on offense and could change a game with his arm and legs.

Now, the team's two-headed running attack will feature Davis, who transferred from Mount View, along with Canning, a talented, tough combination that should give opposing defenses plenty to think about in the coming weeks.

Despite that, Bartlett said the key to the team's success will come on the offensive line. Mossing and Reynolds were key losses to the line, but Brown and Johnson “are good-sized kids and they are physical.”

“The big thing that we need for us to be successful, no matter who is running the ball, is we need those guys to be able to solidify and hold up that offensive line and help make us stronger there,” said Bartlett.

Hansen also makes the move from tackle to tight end, while Nealey will be the team's signal caller this season for the Lions, replacing Collier.

“He's been doing a nice job,” said Bartlett of Nealey. “He's really athletic and he's doing a great job of handing the things we're throwing at him. We're throwing a little bit of a different offensive look. Not only is he learning it, he's learning how to manage varsity situations.”

Belfast returns all its linebackers and features an athletic secondary and has “got the potential to be a good football team,” said Bartlett, though “It depends on how everybody gels.”

In short, the Lions could well find themselves in the Eastern Class C semifinals for the third straight year — and perhaps push further in postseason play.

“If we take care of the little things then the big things take care of themselves,” said Bartlett. “We would love to be playing at UMaine for the gold ball this year.”

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.

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