OLD TOWN, Maine — Nick Arthers, who was named the head football coach at Old Town High School in July replacing Steve Calande, is preaching patience to his Coyotes.
After all, the Coyotes will be learning new schemes on offense and defense in addition to adapting to a new head coach and several new assistants.
On offense, the double-wing has been replaced by the I-formation.
“I’m trying to bring back the offense that helped my dad’s teams be so successful,” said Arthers, referring to former Belfast High School coach Butch Arthers, who led the Lions to a 111-58 record, three state championships and six Eastern Maine titles between 1992-2007.
Butch Arthers is assisting his son.
Nick Arthers, a former quarterback-linebacker who was a Fitzpatrick Award semifinalist in 2003 after leading the Lions to a state title, said he keeps telling his players not to get frustrated.
“They’re still getting used to the offense. There’s a lot of different blocking schemes,” said Arthers. “But I’ve seen improvement and we’re starting to get a pretty good complement of plays. It’s just a matter of knowing what to do on every single one of them. I want them to realize if they continue to improve, they can have a pretty good season.”
Old Town senior quarterback Cam Archer, currently sidelined by a shoulder injury, said once they completely learn the system “good things will happen.
“We’ve only had the system for three weeks while other teams have had the same system for six or seven years,” said Archer.
While Archer heals, sophomore Tyler Young will take the snaps and he’ll be handing the ball off to senior running back Ethan Swedberg, who saw considerable duty last year, sophomore fullback Cody Whitmore or senior wingback Luis Gonzalez.
Senior Adam Boucher and junior Zach Bartlett return as the starting guards and junior end Dylan Miles saw a lot of action a year ago. Junior Robbie Jenkins is the center, the tackles are senior Matt Seymour and junior Brandon Cammack and senior Patrick Quimby is the other end.
Old Town averaged 34 points a game last year but one of the reasons behind its 2-6 record was a defense that surrendered 43.5 ppg.
The Coyotes will switch from a 5-2 to a 4-4 defense.
“One of the big things we’ve touched on is making sure they start playing good defensive football,” said Arthers.
“We’re focusing a lot more on defense,” observed Archer.
Old Town opened with a 27-0 loss to Madison-Carrabec but the Coyotes allowed 52 points to them a year ago.
“You could tell Friday night that we’re already so much better on defense than we were last year,” said Archer.
Bartlett and junior Dakota Leathers are the tackles in the 4-4 alignment with sophomores Kareem Stokes and Braden Upshaw at the ends. Whitmore and Boucher are the inside linebackers with Miles and sophomore Jake Barnaby being the outside backers.
Boucher, who is the defensive captain, and Bartlett are both in the 230-240 pound range according to Arthers.
Quimby and Gonzalez are the cornerbacks with junior Ian Cribbin being the safety.
“The kids are getting used to [the 4-4],” said Arthers. “It’s all about making sure you do your job and sticking with your reads.”
Arthers, who will turn 27 on Thursday, said he is going to accentuate the positives and focus on continuous improvement.
“We want them to develop a winning mindset,” said Arthers.
Arthers said his coaching staff, including his dad, is very knowledgeable and Archer said the players enjoy playing for them.
“They’re doing a great job. The practices are more intense this year;” said Archer who hopes to be back in three to four weeks.
OLD TOWN COYOTES
Last year’s record: 2-6 in the Pine Tree Conference (B)
Head coach: Nick Arthers, first year
Key players: QB-DB Cam Archer, Sr., OG-DT Zach Bartlett, Sr., FB-ILB Cody Whitmore, Soph., TE-OLB Dylan Miles, Jr., OG-ILB Adam Boucher, Sr., WB-CB Louis Gonzalez, Sr., RB Ethan Swedberg, Sr., TE-CB Patrick Quimby, Sr., DE Kareem Stokes, Soph., QB Tyler Young, Soph.
Outlook: The Coyotes are young and will be learning a new offense and defense under first-year coach Arthers. Arthers’ primary objective is improving a defense that allowed 40 or more points seven times in eight games. The loss of Archer early due to a shoulder injury will hurt but sophomore Young will gain some valuable experience for the future. Arthers is Old Town’s seventh head coach in 11 years and the seniors will be playing for their third coach in four years. The Coyotes should improve in all areas over the course of the season if they can stay healthy. Former longtime Belfast High School coach Butch Arthers will be assisting his son and he knows how to transform a bottom-feeder into a consistent winner and a state champion.