TURNER — A year ago, you would have needed all your fingers and toes to tally Leavitt’s list of returning starters.

Taking inventory of the current total is simple as counting a helmet and a pair of cleats. But if you count out the reigning Class C football champions, do so at your peril.

“Last year we were definitely more with the personnel we had, we were expected to go further,” senior center and middle linebacker Will Parkin said. “This year we’re sort of more of an underdog. It means we have to work even harder than last year.”

Rebuilding is much too strong a word for a program that has consistently reloaded and challenged for championships every year for a decade. But the Hornets have done their share of restructuring in the offseason.

Stop by Libby Field on a Friday night and you’re likely to see new offensive and defensive schemes and more than a few faces in new places.

“It’s a lot different than having 20 of your 22 starters back from the year before,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said. “I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be fun. They’re young, so they don’t say much or think too highly of themselves.”


Throw out a dozen names from the team that won the Gold Ball and you’ll overlook someone who played a pivotal role. Matt Powell, Nate Coombs, Levi Morin, Clay Rowland, Tyler Chicoine, Conor O’Malley, Nate Rousseau and Scott Sleeper immediately spring to mind.

Parkin was one of the few impact juniors on a team that trounced most of its 11 opponents in 2013, concluding with a 47-18 rout of Winslow in the Class C final.

He has moved into Morin’s role of center and middle linebacker.

“I have to take over some new positions, and the positions I’m taking over are definitely leadership roles. Levi did such a great job last year, so they’re definitely big shoes that I have to fill,” Parkin said. “You need to take care of yourself and work on your plays, but as a senior and a leader of the team, you need to be responsible for the team itself.”

Tight end and punter Mitchel Davis, slot receiver and wildcat quarterback Billy Bedard and receiver Max Green are the only other veterans who occupied high rungs on the depth chart a year ago.

Based on his sharing of the QB job down the stretch, Bedard might have entered the season as the heir apparent to Chicoine. Instead, he’ll return to his priceless role as a utility man while strong-armed junior Levi Craig gets the call.


“I like being all over the field,” Bedard said. “It doesn’t really affect me. Wherever I am, I’ll do what I can and hopefully put some points on the board.”

The 6-foot-5 Davis is surrounded by 6-3 Green and 6-4 Gabe Seeley.

Throw shifty slot receivers Bedard, Christian Callahan and D’Andre James into the mix and it’s a safe bet that Leavitt will throw the ball significantly more than the state championship outfit did.

“I like that. I like that a lot,” Davis said. “We have a lot of skill guys on the team this year. Younger skill guys, but they’re good.”

Hathaway recalled a recent practice in which the Hornets ran game-situation offense for about 30 minutes at the end of the session. He doesn’t remember Craig throwing an incomplete pass.

So there’s ample reason for optimism. With Spruce Mountain, Cape Elizabeth and Wells all returning the bulk of their rosters from a playoff run, however, it’s cautious chatter.

“The goal is the same, but it’s a little bit farther away than last year, so we just need to make sure to put as much effort as we can into the time we have,” Parkin said. “We need to put in more effort than the other teams, because we know that they have the same goal we do.”

Hathaway compares it to his 2010 club, which had a smaller line and a much younger look in defense of a state title, yet continued its winning ways throughout a spotless regular season.

“I think we’re going to be a much better team in October than we are now, just by the nature of the beast,” the coach said. “Without a lot of game experience, when they’re close games at least, they’re just going to get better and better.”

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