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What to watch for as preseason opens up

The defending Division III North Conference champions are back at it, with preseason fall practices opening up for teams this week. File Photo. (click for larger version)
August 18, 2014
REGION Well, it's here.

The first day of fall sports preseason kicked off around the Lakes Region earlier this week, with Inter-Lakes High School and Moultonborough Academy back in action after a long summer away. Fall is a very busy season in these parts, with football, volleyball, soccer, cross country and golf all competing. Here's a look at some of the storylines to watch out for as the new season gets under way.

Coaching changes

There's a lot of continuity in the coaching ranks locally, with veteran coaches coming back for yet another year. The one big change comes at MA, where legendary coach John Garneau has retired. Cori Schult makes the move up from the JV to the varsity head job, and she's plenty experienced with the players in the program to keep things rolling. Schult was the Division III JV Coach of the Year in 2011.

Besides Schult, the Panthers program remains intact with the coaching staff. Eric Porusta is back for his third year with the boys' soccer team, while Jeff Husmann is also back for his third season with the girls' team. Ken Nilson returns to the head job with the golf team, while John Eisner is back coaching the cross country squad.

Over at Inter-Lakes, Jon Francis prepares year number three as head coach of the Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough football team. After a tough first year in 2012, the Lakers rebounded to capture the Division III North Conference championship last season.

Steve Welch (boys) and Steve Jordan (girls) both return to the fold with their respective soccer programs, and the pair have brought stability to the jobs now entering year number four. Randy Mattson is once again back with the volleyball team after leading the Lakers to the Final Four last fall, as are veteran coaches Chuck Yaeger (golf) and Steve Olafsen (cross country).

Replacing top performers

Some teams will have big shoes to fill this fall.

Let's start at Inter-Lakes, where the volleyball team lost D-III Player of the Year Jordan Donohue to graduation after a stellar career that saw her take matches over at times. Donohue has taken her talents to Rivier University in Nashua this fall.

Soccer star Caitlin Rotonnelli has made the move to the prep route, as she's left Inter-Lakes for Tilton School.

On the football gridiron, I-L/MA lost starting running back Devante Carter, as well as some key linemen in Derek Rossetti and Nick Hurd. All three were All-Conference players in 2013, with Carter and Rossetti named to the D-III All-State second team.

The MA boys' soccer team lost a couple of key contributors, with midfielder Miles Clarenbach and defender Aaron Davis leaving holes both on and off the field.

The Panthers lost some key seniors on the volleyball court as well, with 1,000-assist club member Rachel Duddy graduating. Girls' soccer standout Morgan Fuller has also moved on. Both Duddy and Fuller were All-State first teamers in 2013 in their respective sports.

Players to watch

So who are we keeping an eye on this season?

I-L junior harrier Cam Daly was second overall at the D-III state cross country meet before finishing third at the Meet of Champions last fall.

I-L/MA seniors Kodey Converse and Nick Galietta were both All-State players in 2013 as juniors on the defensive side of the ball.

The MA soccer tandem of Andrew Porusta (junior) and Tristan Price (senior) up top enter their third year starting together as forwards. Watch the goal totals pile up in a big way.

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