OLD TOWN, Maine — In an era when offenses are being spread out to capitalize on team speed, Steve Calande believes “football in a phone booth” is just what Old Town High School needs to rejuvenate its struggling program.
Calande, hired recently as the Coyotes’ sixth head coach in the last eight years, is an avid proponent of the double-wing offense, which tightly groups all 11 offensive players in formation and requires exquisite timing and teamwork to be successful.
“It’s assignment football, and it’s disciplined football,” said Calande, who was the head coach at Boothbay Region High School for the past two years after coaching at the middle school, junior high and high school levels in Pennsylvania since 1989.
“The kids generally pick it up pretty quickly, and we’ll run it until they’re able to run it in their sleep.”
Calande faces a formidable task — rebuilding an Old Town program that was winless last fall and has gone 4-62 over the last eight seasons. The Coyotes have not had a winning campaign since 1997, when the team last made the playoffs.
“I’ve met the kids, I have two years worth of film on them, and based on that I see this as a gold mine of an opportunity,” said Calande, who with wife Kimberly has four children, all under age 7.
Calande will focus on developing the collective aptitude in the football basics in conjunction with installing the double-wing offense and the 46 “Gambler” defense, both of which he highlights on his coachcalande.com website.
“I see a need to become more aggressive, more physical, and to be more grounded in the fundamentals,” he said.
Calande describes the double wing as an offense in which the linemen are the stars, given that their blocking is the key to any statistical success earned by the ballcarriers.
And with what he described as 20 players weighing 200 pounds or more on his anticipated Old Town roster, Calande believes he will have the talent available to develop a solid line.
“From everything I’ve seen on film, these kids don’t quit,” he said. “And in this system, it’s more important that the kids are soldiers rather than who the position players are.”
One of his other immediate goals is to add coaching depth at both the high school and middle school levels in order to provide more instruction in the basics of blocking and tackling.
“I want to eliminate every single drill that doesn’t correspond to what happens on the field,” Calande said.
Old Town dropped from the Pine Tree Conference Class B ranks to the Class C LTC in 2008 in an effort to save the program, beginning a three-year commitment in Class C that currently is scheduled to end with the 2010 campaign.
The Coyotes are ineligible for postseason play while in Class C because it remains a Class B school by enrollment.
But no matter what class the team is competing in, Calande is optimistic he can turn his new program around.
“Some part of me saw this as a challenge that I wanted to accept, and it’s one I believe I can conquer,” he said.
Calande guided Boothbay to a 5-4 record and a Western Maine Class C playoff berth in his first season with the Seahawks in 2008, and then to a 2-6 mark last fall.