Few schoolboy basketball players statewide are more eager to get the 2010-11 season started than Bangor’s Zach Blodgett.
That’s because the Rams’ standout forward lost five months of his offseason hoops regimen to reconstructive surgery on his right shoulder.
Blodgett, a 6-foot-3 senior who helped coach Roger Reed’s club to a 17-3 record and a berth in the Eastern Maine Class A semifinals last winter, began noticing a looseness in his shoulder about a month after the most recent high school season ended.
Subsequent testing revealed that his shoulder not only was dislocated for a second time — the first time occurred during the summer of 2009 while Blodgett was competing in an AAU national championship tournament in Florida — but he also had suffered a torn labrum.
Reconstructive surgery ensued in May, followed by a sometimes frustrating summer of rest and rehabilitation.
“I was kind of disappointed when the doctor said it would be five months because I’d miss the whole AAU part of my season,” said Blodgett, a first-team All-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and honorable mention All-Maine choice as a junior at Bangor High. “But I had to do it that way.”
Initially, Blodgett sat on the bench and watched teammates play in the aftermath of his surgery, all the while dribbling with his left hand.
“For the first month I was pretty much stuck in a brace,” he said, “and after about a month I could move it a little and from there just did rehab for the rest of the five months.”
By July, two months into his rehabilitation, Blodgett began to dribble with his right hand, and a month later he resumed shooting drills.
“After three months I could shoot,” he said, “but I couldn’t play contact until five months.”
Blodgett has been playing basketball since October, and he said while his shoulder continues to gain strength, it’s not yet at 100 percent.
“The shoulder feels good,” said Blodgett. “It’s still a little weak, but the doctor said the whole recovery from the surgery would take a year. I feel pretty good right now, but I won’t be completely healed for a year.”
Blodgett and the Rams expect to get a good preseason test Saturday when Bangor will play Deering of Portland and Portland High School during a one-day event at Bangor High School that also includes Hampden Academy. Bangor will play Deering at noon and Portland at 4:30 p.m., sandwiched around games involving Hampden against Portland at 1:30 p.m. and against Deering at 3.
Bangor opens its regular season at Hampden on Saturday, Dec. 11.
“We should have a pretty good season,” said Blodgett. “We’re looking pretty good, but it’s only preseason. Even with all our veterans, we’ve got a long way to go.”
Rams top KVAC poll
Thanks in part to Blodgett’s healthy return to the lineup, Bangor has been selected as the No. 1 team in the annual Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A preseason coaches’ poll.
In addition to Blodgett, returning starters for the Rams include senior guards Tristan Thomas and Luke Hettermann, while 6-6 Patrick Stewart and 6-4 senior Josiah Hartley, back on the basketball team after competing on the school’s indoor track team for the past two years, also figure to make significant impacts.
Edward Little of Auburn, the two-time defending Eastern Maine Class A champion, finished second in the 16-school poll. Coach Mike Adams’ Red Eddies, who have ousted Bangor in the regional semifinals each of the last two years, will be led by forward Bo Leary, a third-team Bangor Daily News All-Maine choice last winter, and veteran point guard Tim Mains.
Hampden Academy, led by the backcourt tandem of Graham Safford and Christian McCue, was selected third in the conference poll, with Mt. Blue of Farmington and Brewer rounding out the top five.
Brewer, a regional finalist last February, suffered major graduation losses but returns third-team All-Maine guard Ray Bessette for his senior season.
Cony of Augusta, Lawrence of Fairfield and Brunswick earned seeds 6-8 in the coaches’ poll.
Other players to watch include Mitchell Black of Brunswick, Walker Cooper and Anthony Roberts of Cony, Tyler Belanger and Shyler Scales of Erskine Academy of South China, Xavier Scott of Lawrence, Corbin Hyde of Lewiston, Justin Meader and Luke Bartlett of Messalonskee of Oakland, Josh Walker of Mount Ararat of Topsham, Cam Sennick and Eric Berry of Mt. Blue, Dan Taylor and Josh MacDonald of Oxford Hills of South Paris and Tyler Blanchett and Levi Barnes of Skowhegan.
MPA football panel to meet
The football committee of the Maine Principals’ Association will meet in Augusta on Thursday morning with a proposal to expand to four classes one of its primary topics.
Plans to add a class to the current three-class format initially received widespread support, with 70 percent of the state’s football-playing schools responding positively to an MPA survey on the topic.
But as issues specific to individual schools and conferences began to crop up, opposition to the change began to emerge, and it’s now seen as unlikely that those issues will be resolved in time for a change to four classes to take place beginning with the 2011 season.
Any proposal would have to be approved by the football committee and then sent on to the MPA’s reclassification committee, which currently is at work on its biennial reclassification for all sports statewide for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years.