BUCKSPORT — The return of a real fall sports season saw a number of standout efforts from some of Hancock County’s top male athletes.
For the first time, The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander have chosen a Player of the Year for each of the four boys’ fall sports and one all-encompassing Boys’ Coach of the Year. Those selected are just a few of the local boys’ athletes to post standout years on the area’s fields and courses this fall.
Football Player of the Year: Tyler Hallett, senior, Bucksport
Whether he was playing offense or defense, the adage this year was the same: If the ball was thrown in Tyler Hallett’s direction, he was going to catch it.
Hallett was the No. 1 wide receiver this season for Bucksport as well as one of the team’s top defensive backs. The senior and first-team All-Campbell Conference selection made his presence known on both sides of the ball as he made big catch after big catch with his great hands blazed past opponents with elite speed.
Hallett put his skills on display in both contests against Winthrop/Monmouth as he caught touchdown passes of 16, 79 and 30 yards against the Ramblers in Bucksport’s Sept. 3 season opener and hauled in four touchdowns in the team’s Nov. 6 playoff loss. He also caught nine passes, including two touchdowns, Oct. 15 in the Golden Bucks’ 54-0 win over Madison.
Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year, Evan Donnell, sophomore, Bucksport
The 2021 season was a record-setting one for the Bucksport boys’ soccer team, which had its best-ever campaign on nearly every front. Leading the way for the Golden Bucks was Evan Donnell, who set the program’s single-season goal record as he bagged an impressive 38.
Donnell’s most prolific performance this season came Oct. 22 as he found the net five times in Bucksport’s 16-0 Class C North prelim win over Calais. He also scored hat tricks Sept. 7 and Oct. 4 against Piscataquis, Sept. 14 against Central, Sept. 17 against Searsport, Sept. 24 against Sumner, Sept. 28 against Shead and Oct. 13 against Mattanawcook Academy.
Yet in the eyes of Bucksport head coach John Boynton, Donnell’s best performance came Oct. 22 in the team’s 2-1 regional quarterfinal win over Penquis Valley. In that game, Donnell converted a vital penalty kick with 10 minutes left in regulation to tie the game at a goal apiece before heading home an overtime winner to send the Golden Bucks to the semifinals.
“He’s just calm, cool and collected, and he showed it in that game with how he came up big for us on that penalty kick,” Boynton said. “His work ethic is also unmatched on our team; I’ll always drive by the field on the weekend, and he’s there shooting and practicing for 2-3 hours.”
Boys’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year: Sam York, junior, Mount Desert Island
The Mount Desert Island boys’ cross-country team enjoyed an excellent season in 2021 as it won the PVC and Northern Maine championships as well as two regular season meets. None of that would have been possible without York, the PVC Class B Boys’ Runner of the Year, leading the way.
York claimed meet wins in back-to-back weeks in September as he won the George Stevens Academy Invitational on Sept. 17 and the Old Town sectional meet Sept. 27. He then finished an impressive ninth of 671 runners in the Oct. 3 Festival of Champions before returning to top the podium in the Oct. 16 PVC championships and the Oct. 23 Class B North championships.
“Sam has a real quiet determination about him, and you always know he’s going to show up and be consistent,” said MDI head coach Desiree Sirois. “His humbleness and commitment are shining examples of what cross-country is about at MDI.”
Boys’ Golfer of the Year: Shepperd Brown, sophomore, Mount Desert Island
Shepperd Brown didn’t appear in every match for the MDI golf team this year, but when he did, the sophomore was easily among Hancock County’s top players.
Brown, an All-PVC selection for MDI, was medalist for the Trojans on two occasions this season. The Mount Desert native shot a low score of 39 to lead MDI to a one-stroke victory over Bangor on Sept. 16 at Lucerne Golf Course in Dedham and followed it up with a score of 40 six days later at Kebo Valley Golf Club.
On Oct. 8, Brown concluded his successful campaign as he as he placed tops among all Hancock County golfers in the Class B championships at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro. He finished tied for 17th overall in the meet with an 18-hole score of 90.
Boys’ Coach of the Year: John Boynton, Bucksport boys’ soccer
There’s no hiding the fact that Bucksport boys’ soccer has historically not been a strong program. Entering this year, the Golden Bucks had never won more than eight games and had gone 25 years without a winning season.
In 2021, though, Boynton’s Bucksport team finished 14-2-1 and earned a spot in the Class C North semifinals. The Golden Bucks scored a team-record 109 goals this year and held opponents to just 29 for an average margin of victory of 6.4-1.7.
Although Boynton’s team was led by a strong senior class as well as consistent scorers in Donnell and freshman Jason Terrill, Bucksport saw production from nearly everybody on the roster. Seventeen different players scored goals this season for the Golden Bucks, and 23 saw varsity minutes.
“The thing I’m going to remember most about this season is how much fight we showed,” Boynton said. “Even when we’d make a mistake and fall behind, we always came back out and bounced back. … The kids wanted to turn this program around, and they did.”