Leavitt linement practice blocking during a preseason practice. (Randy Whitehouse/Sun Journal)
TURNER — The Leavitt Hornets readily acknowledge they don’t want to re-live last season’s story of an outstanding regular season followed by a what they believe was a premature playoff exit to Gardiner in the regional semifinals.
“We definitely have a bitter taste in our mouth from that game last year,” said junior tight end/defensive end Cole Morin. “That one hurt us all pretty bad. We’re coming back this year with some fire.”
Head coach Mike Hathaway is among those craving a different ending than the 7-6 semifinal loss that may have turned on a controversial pass interference call. But he sees no reason for his team to look too far into the future.
“We’ve got MCI week one, the defending state champs,” Hathaway said.
The Class C schedule doesn’t get any easier after the crossover matchup in the opener, with the likes of defending C South champion Cape Elizabeth and Gardiner also on the horizon.
The Hornets hope to be better suited for the grind of the season with a nucleus of talented returners, plus a number of underclassmen ready to take their turn filling critical spots after graduating a half-dozen key contributors to last year’s 8-2 campaign.
Last season’s injuries helped increase the overall varsity experience in the backfield this year. Probably no one got more valuable playing time than sophomore QB Wyatt Hathaway, the coach’s son, who filled in for Tim Albert when the senior was injured last year.
Wyatt Hathaway will have a lot of familiar faces and hands surrounding him to make plays with twin brothers Dasean and Damion Calder and fellow junior Cam Jordan returning to the slot, and senior Oren Shaw and junior Cole Morin back at wide receiver and tight end, respectively. Tailbacks Bradley Moreau and Allen Peabody saw significant playing time last year, as well.
“We’ve got a lot of skill guys back that played a lot last year,” Hathaway said. “If Wyatt can get the ball in their hands, we should be in pretty good shape.”
The Hornets have more holes to fill on the line, losing three starters. They will rebuild around returning starters Cole Melanson and Riley Parmenter.
“It’s hard to fill those spots. They were good players,” said Parmenter, whose older brother, Aidan, was among the graduation losses. “A few of the guys coming in didn’t have too much experience, but this summer they’re getting reps. They’re getting the offense down. They know the plays.”
The defense boasts seven stalwarts from last year’s unit, including three-year starters Peabody, Morin, Jordan and Parmenter, all juniors.
Melanson, returning at nose guard, joins Jordan and Morin in a formidable front backed by Parmenter, one of the top linebackers in Class C, fellow thumper Tommy Casey and a speedy secondary led by Peabody.
“It gives our whole line confidence knowing that we’ve got people fast enough and strong enough to take on any running back.”
“Our backers are built to stop the run,” Parmenter said. “We’ve got some muscle and some speed. We’re pretty stout. Our D-line is pretty big and pretty tough.”
Leavitt players practice tackling during a preseason practice. (Randy Whitehouse/Sun Journal)Leavitt players work on pass defense during a preseason practice. (Randy Whitehouse/Sun Journal)Leavitt players practice tackling during a preseason practice. (Randy Whitehouse/Sun Journal)