HERMON — All the building blocks are in place, so it's time for the Hermon High School football program to compete at the next level.
After gaining approval from the local school committee this fall, Hermon officials recently filed the necessary paperwork with the Maine Principals' Association for the Hawks to join the varsity ranks beginning next season after two years of playing a developmental schedule against subvarsity opposition.
"We're excited about football being a varsity sport at Hermon next year," said Hermon athletic administrator Paul Soucy.
Coach Ken Frederick's club is expected to play for the next two years in Class C, as is the norm for new varsity programs no matter their class by enrollment. Hermon, a Class B school by its enrollment of 531 students as of April 1, will compete in the LTC in 2011 and 2012 but won't be eligible for postseason play.
Forty-three players completed the 2010 season with the Hawks, with just six seniors from that group set to graduate next spring.
"We've got good numbers back with two years of high school experience," said Soucy.
In addition, the high school program will be supported by a well-established feeder system that includes flag football for third- and fourth-graders and tackle football for fifth- and sixth-graders and for seventh- and eighth-graders.
"We're at the point now where we've got kids coming up through the system who get to high school and already have played football, understand the rules and have some of the fundamentals of the game," Soucy said.
The high school football program will remain privately funded, with revenue generated by having each participant paying a $200 fee to play, various fundraising efforts, and game ticket sales.
Soucy said the team's boosters group has been successful raising $15,000 to $20,000 in each of the last two years, and paid admission has averaged approximately 400 fans per game during the last two years of subvarsity games.
"The Greater Hermon community has really embraced football and supported it," said Soucy.
Hermon will play its home games at Pottle Field on campus, which has lights, so the Hawks will have the option of playing on Friday nights or Saturday afternoons.
While the MPA's reclassification efforts for the next two years of high school football aren't yet complete, Hermon and Winslow are expected to join the LTC while Old Town, a Class B school by enrollment that had played in Class C for the last three years, and Rockland, which is merging with Georges Valley of Thomaston into Oceanside High School next fall, are both expected to move up to Class B.
That leaves a 12-team LTC consisting of Hermon, Winslow, Stearns of Millinocket, John Bapst of Bangor, Bucksport, Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft, Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield, Calais-Woodland, Orono, Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, Mount View of Thorndike and Dexter.