Maine high school sports have no COVID protocols for the 1st time since pandemic start

By Larry Mahoney, Bangor Daily News Staff

Jay Kemble held his first official practice as the new field hockey coach at Bangor High School on Monday evening.

Not only is it his first season coaching the Bangor team, but it’s his first time coaching field hockey ever. Kemble is also the girls basketball coach for Bangor High.

He’s embracing the challenge, and likes what he’s seen from his team. 

“They’re great kids who work hard,” Kemble said. “They’re very coachable and enthusiastic. We’ve had fun.”

Monday marked the opening of the fall sports season, although schools in Aroostook County started on July 25 due to the extensive potato harvest break later this fall.

It also marked the first time since the start of the pandemic that there are no COVID-19 protocols for high school sports put in place, according to Mike Bisson, the assistant executive director of the Maine Principals Association. There are expected to be few, if any, disruptions to the athletic schedule this season due to COVID-19. 

Teams gathered throughout the state Monday to begin practice for football, soccer, field hockey, volleyball and golf.

Observer file photo/Stuart Hedstrom
ONLY NEEDED GOAL — PCHS’ Ariana Fanjoy, with teammate Molly Sipple looking on, put her team on the scoreboard with a first half goal during the 2021 Homecoming game vs. Lee Academy last October. The Pirates won 3-0. This season there are no COVID-19 protocols for high school sports in place.

In Bangor, 58-year-old Kemble was pleased with his field hockey team’s 11 summer sessions.

“We had anywhere from 15 to 25 women on any given night. That was a great turnout,” he said.

The Rams are coming off a 4-9 season under Edythe Dyer. The Rams finished 10th among 12 teams in the Class A North Heal Points standings before losing to No. 10 Mt. Blue of Farmington 5-0 in the first round of the playoffs.

Dyer is now the field hockey coach at Hampden Academy.

Kemble, the former University of Maine relief pitcher and assistant baseball coach, said he continues to get a better grasp of the sport and the skillsets of his players.

“It’s a learning process for me and I’m also getting acclimated to the girls,” said the Farmington native. “But I’m also getting acclimated to their style of play and athleticism.”

He has two assistants in former Bangor High field hockey player Madison Arno and ex-Hampden Academy player Leah Mcbreairty.

The Rams will practice on the artificial turf at Cameron Stadium for the next two weeks before returning to practice at their field at the high school, which has a grass surface.

“Our first game is Sept. 1 at Skowhegan and they have a grass field. And we have quite a few games on grass fields early in the season. So we have to get ready to play on grass,” Kemble said.

Skowhegan has won 20 consecutive Class A North championships and 16 state titles during that span under Maine Sports Hall of Fame coach Paula Doughty.

Cheverus of Portland upended Skowhegan 4-1 in last year’s Class A state final for its first state field hockey crown.

In the Class B final, Leavitt High School of Turner beat Old Town 1-0 for its first state title since 2012 and, in Class C, Winthrop made it two championships in three years with a 3-2 win over Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield.

The state championship games are on Nov. 5 at Messalonskee High in Oakland.

In girls soccer, the defending state titlists are Windham in Class A (3-1 over Brunswick), Cape Elizabeth in Class B (3-0 over Hermon), Maranacook of Readfield in Class C (5-0 vs. Bucksport) and North Yarmouth Academy in Class D (3-0 over Wisdom of St. Agatha). 

Cape Elizabeth and NYA each won their third in a row. Windham won its first since notching back-to-back titles in 2013 and ’14, and Maranacook’s championship was its first ever.

In boys soccer, Marshwood of South Berwick (2-1 vs. Brunswick) and Lee Academy (5-0 over NYA) won their first state titles in Classes A and D, respectively, while Yarmouth won its sixth in seven years in Class B (3-0 over Winslow). Waynflete of Portland captured its third in a row in Class C with a 2-1 win over Fort Kent.

The state finals are slated for Nov. 5 at Hampden Academy (B and C) and Deering Memorial Field in Portland (A and D).

The volleyball state champs were Scarborough (3-2 over Biddeford) in Class A, Yarmouth in Class B (3-2 vs. Cape Elizabeth) and Washington Academy of East Machias in Class C (3-0 over George Stevens Academy from Blue Hill). 

Scarborough’s title was its third in six years. Yarmouth has now won three in a row and WA claimed its second in three years.

The A and B state championship games will be held at the University of Southern Maine on Oct. 28 with the A game at 6 p.m. and the B at 8:30 p.m. The C game will be at Mount Desert Island High School in Bar Harbor on Oct. 28 or 29.

In cross country, Hampden’s boys won their first ever state crown in A; Freeport won its first since back-to-back B titles in ’14 and ’15; and Orono’s boys claimed their third in five years in C. The Bonny Eagle of Buxton girls earned their third A title in a row and fifth in six years, MDI’s girls annexed their first in B since winning in ’12 and ’13 and the Orono girls nabbed their third in four years and sixth in eight seasons in C.

The state cross country meet will be on Oct. 29 at the Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland.

In golf, the winners last fall were Falmouth in A, its first state title since 2013; Yarmouth was a first-time titlist in B and Kents Hill won for the second time in three years in C. The individual champs were Lucas Flaherty of South Portland in A, Eli Spaulding of Freeport in B and George Fahey of Waynflete in C.

The girls individual winners were Cheyenne Couture of Noble High in North Berwick in Class A, Jade Haylock of Leavitt in Turner in Class B, and Clarice Bell of Orono in Class C.

The state tournaments will be held on Oct. 7 in Class A, and Oct. 8 in B and C.

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