Football has meant a lot to Ricky Gibson since he first took up the sport four years ago.
“My football team is kinda like another family in a way, it keeps me out of trouble and my grades up,” said the 15-year-old sophomore at Maranacook Community School in Readfield. “Everyone always has my back and it’s just been the thing I look forward to going to school for.”
Gibson, a 5-foot-10, 155-pound defensive back and wide receiver from Wayne, was expected to start for the Black Bears this fall, but he became ill just as the season began.
That illness subsequently was diagnosed as pontine glioma, a malignant tumor in the brain stem that has progressed rapidly. He has been treated at the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care in Augusta, and is now undergoing chemotherapy.
As Gibson tackles this biggest challenge in his life, the Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted him about granting a wish for him.
But rather than a trip to Disney World or to see his favorite team, Gibson came up with another wish — to bring Friday Night Lights to Maranacook.
Specifically, Gibson’s wish is for the addition of lights and a full set of bleachers for the school’s football program.
“I wanted to raise money for football ’cause we never have Friday home games,” he said. “We don’t have the lights and bleachers so we could have Friday night games.”
While the project, estimated to cost $200,000, is beyond the financial scope of the Maine chapter of Make-A-Wish, whose average cost of a fulfilling a wish is $6,000, an effort is under way to make that dream come true.
The Make-A-Wish is teaming with Maranacook Football Inc., a community booster group that supports the high school football program to which Ricky belongs. A special fund dedicated to field renovations upgrades has launched with Make-A-Wish as the initial donor, giving $6,000.
The effort was launched last Saturday when Maranacook hosted Winslow in a Pine Tree Conference Class B football game and several thousand dollars were raised.
Donations made to the fund will directly benefit all football programs supported by Maranacook Football Inc., for students from Readfield, Manchester, Mount Vernon, Fayette and Wayne. Those programs include freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams that are not fully funded by the school.
“All of the wishes from our Make-A-Wish kids touch our hearts in different ways,” said Tom Peaco, executive director at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine in a press release. “Ricky’s wish touched us because his greatest wish is focused on giving to others, and to a group that is so special to him.
“While the fulfillment of his wish is well beyond our means as an organization, we are honored to lend our resources to launching a campaign to realize his dream.”
Contributions are tax-deductible. More information about donating to the fund is available by contacting Linda Smith of Maranacook Football Inc. at 623-3532 or visit www.maine.wish.org.
Adams takes Hodgdon post
Veteran high school basketball coach and official Jerry Adams will return to the sidelines this winter as the boys varsity coach at Hodgdon High School.
Adams, a Houlton resident, replaces Tyler Putnam, who did not return after coaching the Hawks for the last two seasons.
Adams has compiled a 114-81 coaching record in 10 years as a varsity head coach that has included stops at East Grand of Danforth (1978), Ashland (1995), Central Aroostook of Mars Hill (1996), Houlton (1997-2002) and the East Grand girls (2004).
Adams guided Central Aroostook to a 21-1 record and the 1996 Class D state championship. He then coached Houlton to a 75-44 record over six seasons, including trips to the Eastern Maine Class B championship game in both 1998 and 1999.
Hodgdon finished the 2008 regular season with a 5-13 record, then lost at Deer Isle-Stonington in an Eastern Maine Class D preliminary-round game.
The Hawks will attempt this winter to secure their first winning season since 2004, when Hodgdon finished the regular season ranked fourth in Eastern D with a 12-6 record, then defeated Machias in the preliminary round before falling to East Grand in the regional quarterfinals to finish 13-7.
That marked the last time the program advanced to post-season play at the Bangor Auditorium, though Hodgdon did earn preliminary-round berths in 2005 and 2007. The Hawks played in Class C in 2005 and 2006 before returning to Class D last winter.
KVAC soccer matches set
Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship games are scheduled this week in boys and girls soccer, with several different story lines adding some intrigue to what otherwise are essentially exhibition games that give the participants one more tuneup before postseason play.
The Class A games are set for Saturday afternoon at Ron Webber Field in Waterville, with the boys game between Bangor and Brunswick set for 1 p.m. followed by the girls game between Waterville and Brunswick at 3.
The KVAC Class B championships will be played at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday on adjacent fields at the Capital Area Soccer Complex in Augusta. Medomak Valley of Waldoboro will be involved in both contests, with the boys squaring off against Camden Hills of Rockport and the girls facing Winslow.
The Class A boys game features the last two Eastern Maine titlists in 2006 state champion Bangor and 2007 EM winner Brunswick, two teams that have not met yet this season.
Bangor was 12-0-1 and ranked second in Eastern A entering its scheduled regular-season finale Tuesday evening against Waterville, and coach David Patterson’s club had outscored its opposition by a combined 80-3 while posting 10 shutouts.
But Brunswick likely represents the toughest test of the season for the Rams. Brunswick finished 12-1-1 in what is considered the tougher southern division of the KVAC Class A ranks, and Peter Gardner’s club seems to be playing its best soccer of the season as it approaches the postseason, given wins over Mount Ararat of Topsham and Edward Little of Auburn last week that avenged the lone blemishes on the Dragons’ schedule.
The girls game also features two teams that have not yet met in a battle of unbeatens. Brunswick, topranked in Eastern A, already has concluded its regular season at 13-0-1, while second-ranked Waterville was 13-0 entering Tuesday’s home match against Bangor.
In Class B, the Camden Hills and Medomak Valley boys will meet for the third time this season, with each team owning a shutout victory over its rival. Camden Hills edged Medomak Valley 1-0 Sept. 12 at Rockport, while Medomak countered with a 2-0 victory Oct. 8 at Waldoboro — the Windjammers’ first loss after an 8-0-1 start.
Both teams enter the game riding a fair amount of momentum. Medomak Valley has won six straight matches since a 5-3 start, while Camden Hills ended its season with a 1-0 overtime win over Maranacook of Readfield along with a season-ending 4-0 victory over rival Rockland last Friday.
The Winslow girls squad, 13-1, is the four-time defending Eastern B champion, while Medomak Valley also finished its regular season at 13-1. Winslow edged the Panthers 1-0 in their only meeting of the regular season.
Also scheduled this week are the inaugural Penobscot Valley Conference soccer championships.
The boys game, set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Presque Isle High School, features an intriguing matchup of undefeated teams as 13-0-1 Presque Isle, top-seeded in Eastern B, hosts 13-0-1 Katahdin of Stacyville.
The girls match, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, matches Class B Presque Isle (13-0-1) against Class C Fort Kent (8-5-1).