The Star-Herald

CA boys have plenty of fresh faces, new style of play

MARS HILL, Maine — Two years ago, the Panthers were denied a Class C North championship by a controversial last-second shot. But that did not stop the Panthers from having yet another strong season a year ago. 

Last season, the squad competed favorably with much larger schools Caribou, Presque Isle and Houlton in the rugged Aroostook League Large School Division as COVID-19 canceled the traditional postseason.

Alas, a majority of the veteran players from those Panther squads have graduated, so changes are imminent for the CA program entering the 2021-22 season.

Seventh-year coach Jason Woodworth estimated that between 95 and 98 percent of the minutes played a year ago were turned in by players who have graduated. “So we have a lot of work ahead of us,” he said.

Gone are Josh Thomas, Stetson Nicholas, Cody McCrum, Malachi Fitzherbert, Josh Dahl and Zaylan Johnston, who all played key roles for the Panthers over the past two seasons.

“We have a lot of positions to be filled,” Woodworth said. “We basically know of two guys who will have prominent roles – Lucas Haines and Colby Burlock.”

Haines is a senior who will “probably be our top scorer on a nightly basis,” according to Woodworth. “He will receive a lot of attention defensively and will be a matchup problem for most teams we see,” the coach added.

Burlock, a sophomore, struggled to fit in last season, but Woodworth believes it will be a different story this winter. “Colby will be asked to help with the scoring load and be an anchor on the defensive end,” said the coach.

Senior Chase Hentosh should see plenty of action and will be counted on to help control the glass and chip in on the offensive end. 

A large junior class includes Malachi Couture, Liam Shaw, Hunter Charette, John Coffin, Ryder Brewer and Bill Anthony.

“There are a lot of minutes out there and it’s up to them to show who wants it and who can do it,” Woodworth said. “Now is their time to shine.”

Carl Mullen returns as the JV coach and will assist Woodworth on the sidelines. Corey Burlock has come aboard as a volunteer assistant. 

Woodworth is looking forward to seeing how things unfold for his Panthers and is excited to see where his team is at the end of the regular season and heading into the playoffs.

“I always like to adapt to my squad and this year will be a different style than what we have preached in years past,” he said. “With this year’s group, we are not going to be as ‘run and gun’ as Central Aroostook teams of the past. We are going to be diligent, disciplined and deliberate.”

He predicted the Panthers will have to work for every victory and that it will be “all about believing, trusting in ourselves and committing to our new style of play.”

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