H.S. Football Showcase: Marshwood’s Bryant looks to be even better in 2019

Mike Zhe mzhe@seacoastonline.com Posted Aug 31, 2019 

SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — There was no debate about how good Justin Bryant was last year.Screen Shot 2019-09-01 at 1.13.22 PM Screen Shot 2019-09-01 at 1.13.44 PM Screen Shot 2019-09-01 at 1.14.12 PM

As a bruising junior fullback on the Class B champion Marshwood High School football team, he racked up more than 1,100 rushing yards. He also started and thrived at outside linebacker on defense. He was honored by Seacoast Media Group as its Football Player of the Year in its 18-school coverage area.

So it might be a little scary to opponents when his coach says he also might be Marshwood’s most improved player heading into this season.

“It wasn’t unusual for him to come in after working all day and spend two hours in the weight room, and then go play basketball or whatever,” said coach Alex Rotsko. “He’s worked as hard as any kid we’ve had.”

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Bryant, who was strong and durable enough to earn carries as a freshman, should be on the short list of Maine’s top players. He gained 1,154 yards and scored 16 rushing touchdowns last year, despite playing minimally after suffering an ankle injury in the regional final against Kennebunk, where he caught the go-ahead touchdown pass in a 14-13 win.

“Even going from last year to this year, he’s flipped a switch,” said classmate Connor Caverly, the team’s No. 1 quarterback and a starting defensive end. “He’s changed his whole workout, his whole diet. … He’s ready for this last season and he looks really good.”

He’ll get his share of carries in the Wing-T offense, as will Caverly, speedy senior John Valentine and new starter Cam Cornett.

Where Bryant’s role is different is on defense, where he shifts to inside linebacker after starting at outside backer for the first time last year.

“We lost two linebackers, but I don’t think we’ll have a big drop-off,” said Rotsko.

Bryant said the position change has been an adjustment.

“Outside backer, you can really flow fast over the top,” he said. “Inside backer, you’ve got to slow down, take your read steps and fit inside-out. That was kind of hard for me, because I’m used to go, go, go. I had to slow down and make sure I was fitting correctly.”

Last year was the first time he started on both sides of the ball.

“Freshman and sophomore year, they wanted me to learn the offense and get good at that, but I did ‘look’ team a lot,” he said. “Last year they put me in and I had to really learn. (Defensive coordinator Andrew) Elwell, he’s a really smart guy and he helped me out a lot. … It’s a really good defense.”

The biggest questions for Marshwood are on the lines, where it graduated a superb class of big, physical seniors. Tackle Michael Cruz is back, and Caverly played a lot at D-end, but there will be several new starters on both sides.

“It’s weird. It’s different,” said Caverly, who’s headed to UMaine on a baseball scholarship. “I’ve always been kind of that younger guy and now it’s going to be more of a leadership role and help other people learn.”

Marshwood has won four Class B championships since Rotsko took over as coach in 2012, including the last two and four of the last five.

Reclassification in Maine has introduced two new teams to the Hawks’ division and schedule — Portland and Deering — and they’ll also play at Class A power Thornton Academy. Those teams will get to meet Bryant for the first time.

“I think he’s going to be one of our most improved players, and he was already a three-year starter,” said Rotsko. “Just a lot of hard work. … I’m guessing he’s added a good 10-15 pounds of muscle and he was already a big, strong kid.”

Bryant says he’s leaning more toward entering the military after this year than playing college football. Either way, he wants to go out on top.

“I think we have a lot of potential as a team,” said Bryant. “We have a lot of, not young players, but players who haven’t played at the varsity level that are stepping up his year. It’s definitely different than last year but I think we’ll be successful.”


5 Questions with Marshwood High’s New Principal

5 Questions with Marshwood High’s New Principal

By Ralph Morang news@seacoastonline.com Aug 25, 2019Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 5.36.29 PM

 SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — It’s the end of a casual Friday at the end of a long week, and two dozen sticky notes cover the conference table in Robert Scully’s office at Marshwood High School. Scully is the school’s new principal and has had meetings all week.

Scully, 53, spent 19 years at Souhegan High School in Amherst, New Hampshire, as a teacher, dean of students and principal before being named MHS principal Aug. 14. The former Marshwood principal, Paul Mehlhorn, resigned in July.

Dressed in a blue polo shirt, Scully answered a few questions before heading home Friday and then out again to attend the celebration for the end of band camp.

What drew you to Marshwood?

“It was time to get life and work within five miles of each other,” Scully said. For many years, Scully has lived in York and commuted to Souhegan. “I kept tabs on Marshwood, and I never heard a bad word from (Marshwood) students or teachers. There is a strong sense of community.”

How would you describe your style in interacting with students, parents and teachers?

“I was in the classroom for 21 or 22 years. If style is the understanding of students and connecting with stakeholders, I have a lot of classroom experience. I appreciate the needs of teachers and a deep understanding of what might benefit the school in terms of leadership,” he said.

How concerned are you about student health issues like vaping and any others you would like to mention?

“Vaping as a national concern has subsided a little; it came fast and furious as an issue. We need to see how to focus on (students’) needs beyond the academic,” Scully said. He said he is recommending Marshwood support the whole student, create a safe environment and address any needs of students. “We need to develop a system, a sense of community.”

What’s the first thing you want to accomplish at Marshwood?

“This is a wonderful district to work in,” Scully said, adding he will work toward cohesiveness. “There is great stuff in place.”

He added he wants to bring everyone involved to the table to do a great job for students.

What are some of your longer-term goals?

“I want to give permission for innovation,” he said. Scully said the tone and mood of Marshwood is wonderful. His wants to identify how the school should be evolving. “To me, this is exciting.” He wants classrooms that are vibrant. “What is undiscovered? We can discover and evolve together, reimagining the learning experience.”

“I have two words, ‘curriculum’ and ‘instruction,’” he said. Curriculum, he said, should be relevant and engaging. Instruction should be inspiring, with trained, experienced teachers in a safe environment. For curriculum, Scully said, “Let’s make it pop!” For teachers he said, “Let’s support you.”

Scully has two more words for SAD 35 and the community, “Thank you.” He said those were his first words after being hired. “It is a really great honor.”


Scully lives in York with his wife, Ellen and two children, Amelia and Liam. As he begins his new job at Marshwood, he is continuing his education, towards an EdS degree.

In his letter to the district, which includes South Berwick and Eliot, SAD 35 Superintendent John Caverly, himself appointed in April, said, “Mr. Scully is known as a visionary and he is focused on creating a student centered learning experience.”

In 2018, Scully was recognized as the New Hampshire School Principal of the Year by the New Hampshire Association of School Principals.

“Mr. Scully will be a critical cog in implementing the community’s vision at Marshwood High School,” Caverly said.


Marshwood High School’s Marcos Abell chooses to build a kiosk for the Outdoor Classroom at Central School for his Eagle Scout Project. 

Marcos Abell chooses to build a kiosk for the Outdoor Classroom at Central School for his Eagle Scout Project.  Marcos Abell joined the Boy Scouts as a Tiger Scout 10 years ago.  Marcos had been completing his required achievements and was approved for his Eagle Scout project.  He began building…

Continue reading