June 25, 2011

SEMI-PRO FOOTBALL: Sabers return to action tonight

By Tom Chard tchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Brandon Dorsett knows his football playing days won't last forever. So while he can still make a tackle, shed a block and have fun, the former Portland High standout jumped at a chance to put on the helmet and shoulder pads once again.

The revival of the Maine Sabers, a minor league team in the Eastern Football League, has given players like Dorsett, 25, a chance to play the game they love.

The Sabers open their 10-game schedule at 7 tonight against the Charlestown Townies at Charlestown, Mass.

The Sabers fielded a team in the Eastern League in the early 1990s. They're back under the ownership of Stephen Goodrich, who was a kicker for the team back then. Goodrich is CEO of PowerPay in Portland.

The Sabers list 57 players on their roster. The majority are former southern Maine high school players and college players from various schools. The head coach is Jason McLeod, Windham High's offensive coordinator. A pair of Bates College assistants are part of the Sabers' staff. Skip Capone is the defensive line coach and Chris Kempton the defensive coordinator.

After graduating from Portland High in 2005, Dorsett, an outside linebacker for the Sabers and a tri-captain, played two years at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa, and then at Colorado State University.

"Football is in my blood," said Dorsett, who lives in Westbrook and works for an insurance company there. "It's a way of life for me. It feels good to put the pads on and have the camaraderie of teammates. It's rewarding to get back into playing shape again. I feel truly blessed that I can still play.

"I think we'll have a good season. We've done well in scrimmages against other teams. We have a lot of guys who played in college."

McLeod said Dorsett is a "silent leader."

"His actions speak louder than his words. When Brandon does speak, the guys listen because it really means something," said McLeod.

Former Lisbon High standout Jeremy Shorey and Matt Rollins, who played for Bonny Eagle High last fall, are close in the competition for the starting quarterback position. Shorey is getting married today, so Rollins will play.

McLeod has been impressed with Rollins' play and maturity. Rollins provides a running threat at quarterback while Shorey, at 6-foot-4, is a traditional pocket passer.

"Matt fell into our lap," said McLeod. "He was supposed to play football at Norwich University, but it didn't work out.

"He's enrolled at USM and wants to play football."

A key addition to the team is Anthony Hicks at strong safety. Hicks is a former defensive back at Maine.

"It's really hard at this level to put together a well-run organization, but I feel we have," said McLeod.

Goodrich said the team's first run in the league ended because he was looking for help in running the team and couldn't find anyone suitable.

"We decided to conclude operations," said Goodrich.

"Jason and I have talked about bringing the team back for a couple of years. We've managed to get a few marquee players.

"The other teams in the league are glad that we're coming back. In our first year in the league, we made it to the league semifinals. They remember the Maine Sabers."

The Sabers have five home games and five away games. They will play home games at Fitzpatrick Stadium and Scarborough High.

"Based on our talent and experience, I think we'll have a competitive team," said McLeod. "The work ethic has been phenomenal. The players soak things up like a sponge."

The Sabers first home game is July 16 against Charlestown at 4 p.m.

Other homes games are: Boston on Aug. 6, Braintree on Aug. 13, Twin City on Aug. 25 and Eastern Massachusetts on Sept. 17. The Eastern Massachusetts game starts at 7 p.m., and the other home games start at 4 p.m.

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