Oak Hill boys lacrosse coach Joseph Hinkley is in the same boat with other skippers this season.

After a yearlong layoff due to COVID-19, the coach is trying to figure out a young team after an undefeated regular season in 2019.

“It’s going to be a different kind of year,” Hinkley said. “(We) just don’t know where everybody else is at due to not having a season last year. (We are) only trying to worry about ourselves one day at a time and the next game.”

Hinkley is impressed with the Raiders’ motivation despite the long absence of lacrosse.

Riley Worth (22) cradles the ball from behind the goal Wednesday during lacrosse practice at Oak Hill High School. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“They all want to be here every day, to practice and to get better,” he said. “The offensive end will be our strength. Hopefully, we will make a deep run in the playoffs.”

EDWARD LITTLE

Low numbers and inexperience might seem like a hinderance for the Red Eddies, but coach Tom Smith sees other assets that should make his team competitive.

“Our defense is very new to lacrosse and developing,” Smith said. “Low numbers means guys will be on the field most of the game. The beginning of the season will be tough, but I expect a ton of growth as the season progresses. We have a solid starting offense who can help coach the younger players.”

Senior Caleb Davis and juniors Tyler Smith and Wesley Clements will spearhead EL’s offense. Senior Cayden Childs will anchor the defense.

“We are just so excited to have a season after missing all of last season,” Smith said. “Some of last year’s seniors I had coached since middle school — to have them loss their last season was rough. Flexibility remains the keyword this spring. Things are ever-changing.”

GRAY-NEW GLOUCESTER

Gray-NG coach Rich Tibbetts is counting on the Patriots’ defense and momentum to keep his team in contention.

“We are a young team, with only four players with varsity experience,” he said. “Our goal will be to gain momentum, from game to game, and build on our successes.

“Our strength will be on the defensive side of the field and a talented faceoff player in Owen McDuffie. We are fortunate to have strong group of close defensemen … 

“As a young team, our lack of experience at the varsity level will be something that we will work to overcome. I expect that continued skill development, the learning of team systems and building on our strengths will lead us to a successful season.”

LEWISTON

The Blue Devils have set several modest but decisive goals as a way to get back into the swing of things.

“Our goals for this year are to build a solid base of fundamentals and finish the season with everyone healthy,” Lewiston coach Ben Fournier said. “We have a lot of skilled newcomers that are young and eager to play. This group has a lot of fun during practice and loves to just get out and play.

“A lot of those young players, while skilled, are inexperienced at this level of competition. Our freshman and sophomore classes have not experienced that pace of a high school game compared to middle school.”

After the long pause, Fournier isn’t sure how the competition shapes up this season. 

“There is no telling what teams have lost or added,” he said. “We will focus on playing our style and have to make a lot of in-game adjustments. We will need to be very flexible as a program in this current climate. Our entire season could change in an instant, so we need to make every day count.”

MARANACOOK/WINTHROP/SPRUCE MOUNTAIN

The current flock of Hawks are young and inexperienced, but they are grateful to be back with sticks in hand.

“We are just very happy to be back at the game we all love,” Hawks coach Kyle Dennett said. “The coaches and players are looking forward to this season and we are pushing to try and get back to the state championship for Class C again.”

But he also acknowledged that there will be a focus on fundamentals for this fresh bunch of athletes.

“We missed a whole season, so for the Hawks we have a new group of kids and we will be getting back to the basics of lacrosse,” he said. “We want to be competitive with everyone we play this year.

“We have several returners from a couple of seasons ago. We are optimistic that our fundamentals will help drive the success of our program this year.”

MT. BLUE

Mt. Blue is facing a deficit when it comes to depth, but the core of the team’s defense remains intact, which is good news for the Cougars.

“We are very fortunate to have a strong returning core on the defensive side of the ball,” Mt. Blue coach Matt Reynolds said. “Seniors Adam Loewen, Jack Sullivan and Nick Fraser will be leading the defense and setting the standard high.

“On the offensive side of the field, seniors Keegan Roberts, Xander Gurney and Trinity Titus should be finding the back of the net multiple times each game. With a supporting offense consisting of juniors Josh Smith and Colby Ranger as well as a strong core of freshmen (Chase Ranger, Levi Bogar, to name a few) our offensive numbers should be fairly spread out.”

Despite missing an entire season, Reynolds said the Cougars are quickly getting back in their groove.

“Overall the team has a great vibe and a relaxed culture that is not afraid to put the work in that needs to be done,” he said.

OXFORD HILLS

Coach Hunter Rowell is hoping the Vikings will pick up where they left off in 2019.

“The OHCHS boys lacrosse team looks to continue the success we had two years ago, having made it into the playoffs for the first time in 13 years,” Rowell said. “We hope to continue to fine-tune our fundamentals and strengthen our bonds as a team, ultimately carrying us deeper into the playoffs at the end of the season.”

Rowell is impressed with the way the Vikings have regrouped after a year layoff due to the coronavirus.

“We’ve set goals; we’re hungry,” Rowell said. “We’re working hard together. Having missed spring sports last season, this team has come together quickly and has hit the ground running. There is a lot of motivation and drive to make up for the lost time. Big things are coming from this group.”

ST. DOM’S

An experienced senior class will have a lot to do with how well the Saints do this season.

“We are athletic and skills are developing quickly, especially with the missed year,” St. Dom’s coach Tim Matteson said. “Lack of depth is an issue — not a lot of younger players.”

The Saints also have another asset: desire.

“This team competes hard in practice and is further along in the early season,” Matteson said. “We don’t have a lot of depth, but our seniors are solid and good leaders. 

“(Matt) Fletcher is one of the best players in the state and puts in the effort of a great player and that trickles down to all our athletes.”

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