ROCKPORT, Maine — Steve Wadsworth faces a significant challenge in his new role as the head football coach at Camden Hills Regional High School.
He inherits a team that went 0-8 last fall just a year removed from the program’s first playoff appearance, and the program’s longer-term stability will depend on increasing participation rates.
“We don’t have a lot of depth and there’s not a lot of numbers, particularly on the offensive line,” said Wadsworth, who coached middle-school-age (grades 7-8) football within the local Five Town Football system for the last three years.
The high school team, which graduated just eight seniors from last year’s edition, had approximately 30 players heading into the team’s Pine Tree Conference Class B season opener at Morse of Bath last Friday night, with just 26 suited up for its exhibition game against John Bapst of Bangor last weekend.
But the players on board are looking forward to steady improvement.
“The attitude is pretty good,” said Wadsworth. “We don’t have a lot of depth, but our top-end guys are pretty good.”
The Camden Hills roster features a nucleus of multi-sport athletes including seniors Alex Crans and Coleman Powers and junior Isaac Young.
But the Windjammers also are expected to rely on several freshman to provide immediate assistance.
“There are going to be growing pains,” said Wadsworth. “We’re a young team with three or four freshman probably stepping right in, but my philosophy is that the best guys play and some of the freshmen are the best guys.”
The Windjammers also are adjusting to a new spread offense, which Wadsworth plans to run as well as a double tight-end offensive formation.
And such change potentially is not limited to play on the field. The Maine Principals’ Association is moving toward expanding the state’s high school football ranks from three to four classes beginning in 2013, and under the model currently under consideration Camden Hills — and neighboring Oceanside of Rockland-Thomaston — would be moved from Eastern to Western Maine Class B, meaning road trips to the likes of Gorham, Greely of Cumberland Center, Westbrook, Marshwood of South Berwick, Kennebunk, Falmouth and Fryeburg Academy.
Western B “has been one of the toughest conferences in the state from top to bottom, and the travel is tough, but it is what it is,” said Wadsworth. “I’m hoping it doesn’t happen, but we’ll play where they put us.”
In the meantime, the 2012 season offers its own challenges — and opportunities.
“Our goal is to be playing in late October,” Wadsworth said. “Whether that’s realistic or not, we’ll see, but we’re going to take it one game at a time and see where that takes us.”
Morse of Bath beat Camden Hills 39-6 in a mutual opener Saturday.
CAMDEN HILLS WINDJAMMERS
2011 record: 0-8
Head coach: Steve Wadsworth (1st season)
Key players: Alex Crans, Sr., WR-DB-RB; Coleman Powers, Sr., WR-DB; John White, Sr., OG-DT; Alex Bryant, Sr., OT-DL; Ian Nason, Sr., OG-LB-PK-P; Connor Graffam, Jr., TE-WR-DE; Wyatt Summers, So., DE; Isaac Young, Jr., RB-LB; Colt Muir, Sr., OG-LB
Outlook: The Windjammers have an athletic nucleus, but lack of depth — particularly along the line of scrimmage — will be a significant challenge to overcome if they are going to challenge for a Pine Tree Conference Class B playoff berth.