Belfast Area High School has filled its varsity football coaching vacancy from within with the recent hiring of Chris Bartlett to the post.
Bartlett, an assistant coach for the Lions the past five years, replaces Butch Richards, a longtime fixture within the program who stepped down after last season.
“I’ve been coaching football in some form for 15 years, and this is the biggest step so far,” said Bartlett, a physical education teacher at the school who also currently serves as Belfast’s varsity softball coach.
“I know I’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill, because Butch and Butch [former head coach Butch Arthers] did a phenomenal job with the program.”
Bartlett will attempt to lead the Lions back from a 1-7 finish in the Pine Tree Conference Class B ranks last fall.
“One of the big goals will be to cut down on our fumbles and penalties overall, but especially in the red zone [inside the opponent’s 20-yard line],” said Bartlett. “We want to get better day by day, which has been the traditional goal here at Belfast.”
Bartlett expects to have a solid turnout of players when preseason practices open on Aug. 17.
“This year we’ve got some pretty decent backfield players returning,” said Bartlett, whose team opens its 2009 season at Mount Desert Island on Sept. 4.
“We’ve also got some talented young kids, but we’ll have a young line and a lot will depend on how they progress.”
Bartlett played linebacker and fullback at Hampden Academy under coach Bob Sinclair during the early 1990s. The final game of his high school career was ironically against Belfast. A broken leg suffered during practice the following week prematurely ended his senior season.
Bartlett then joined the Broncos’ staff as a volunteer assistant after graduating in 1994.
He went on to graduate from the University of Maine, and continued to coach as a high school assistant as well as with the local youth football program in Hampden.
Bartlett moved in 2001 to Belfast, where he initially was a middle school coach before joining the high school staff under co-coaches Butch Arthers and Richards.
Most recently, Bartlett served as an assistant coach of defensive backs, running backs and special teams for the Lions.
“The big challenge will be making that transition from someone having a set of eyes focused on specific individuals to watching over the whole program, taking all the information I get and using it to put a successful program together,” said Bartlett. “It’s a challenge I look forward to.”
Pepin takes Pirates’ hoop reins
Dave Pepin is the new boys varsity basketball coach at Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford.
Pepin, the former boys varsity basketball coach at Hermon and currently the baseball coach at Searsport, replaces Bill Reynolds, who stepped down after his first season due to job conflicts.
PCHS finished 8-11 a year ago after qualifying for the Eastern Maine Class C preliminary round, but the Pirates will return just one senior to next year’s roster.
“We’ve only got a couple of guys with significant varsity experience,” said Pepin, who was hired to the post just before the start of the summer basketball season. “From where we started with the first week of summer camp to where we are now, there’s been dramatic improvement.”
The Newport resident and 1982 Nokomis Regional High graduate brings considerable basketball experience to his new post. He served on the Eastern Maine Board of Approved Basketball Officials for six years and was the girls’ varsity coach at Searsport for two years, guiding the Vikings to the Eastern C preliminary round during the 2002-03 season.
He then spent a year as an assistant girls varsity basketball coach at John Bapst of Bangor, helping coach Mike Webb’s Crusaders earn an Eastern A preliminary-round berth.
Pepin took the Hermon boys varsity basketball post beginning with the 2005-06 season, and guided the Hawks to the Eastern Maine Class B preliminary round in 2007 and the regional quarterfinals in 2008.
Pepin also has coached the Searsport baseball team for the last seven years, leading the Vikings to an 83-32 record including state championships in 2006 and 2008 and Eastern Maine Class C titles in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
A rebuilding Searsport club finished 5-11 this spring, marking the first time in six years the Vikings have not advanced at least to the Eastern C final.
PCHS currently is winding down a 12-game summer schedule.
“There are a lot of learning curves here,” Pepin said. “But we’ve got some great kids back who really want to learn.”