ROCKLAND, Maine — It could have been a tumultuous preseason for the Oceanside High School football team.
Woody Moore resigned as the Mariners’ head coach just before the start of practices in mid-August after losing his full-time job due to state budget cuts, though that resignation came with the hope that he might return to the post if those issues were resolved.
In the meantime, Archie Stalcup — a former head coach at LaSalle University who has been an assistant coach in the Midcoast region for several years since retiring to the area — took over on an interim basis, guiding the team through its preseason schedule that included an exhibition-game victory over Hermon.
Then, just days before the team’s opening-game came the optimal solution for the players and coaches — Moore returned as head coach.
And he liked what he saw in terms of the team’s preparation for the Mariners’ Pine Tree Conference Class B season to come.
“I think we’re right on schedule, and we might be a little ahead of schedule,” said Moore, whose roster numbers 33 players. “And that’s a credit to Archie’s leadership.”
Oceanside, in its second year back in Class B after the consolidation of Rockland and Georges Valley of Thomaston high schools, will rely on a veteran corps of backs and receivers to lead it toward a postsesason berth.
“We are very strong in the skill positions offensively,” said Moore, “and defensively we’re strong and experienced with good team speed.”
That returning nucleus is led by Sam Meklin, a 6-foot-5 senior quarterback and defensive end who is expected to be a significant contributor on both sides of the ball.
Classmates Dan Stone, Dan Hendricks and Raheem James and juniors Garrette Burns and Damian Ball will fuel the Oceanside ground game, while Hendricks, senior wideout Matt Zable and senior tight end Jacob Butman are Meklin’s top receiving targets.
Senior Jake St. Pierre will anchor both sides of the line of scrimmage for the Mariners, with Meklin and Butman at defensive end.
Hendricks, the team’s leading tackler last year, is back at linebacker along with Burns, while Stone, Zable and James will man the secondary.
“Dan has great instincts,” said Moore of the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Hendricks. “He’s a great all-around player with amazing defensive instincts.”
Moore said the seniors on the Oceanside roster have a sense of urgency about being successful with their final chance to earn a postseason berth.
“They have worked very hard this offseason in the weight room and these first two weeks of camp to ensure that happens,” he said.
2011 record: 2-6
Head coach: Woody Moore (sixth year)
Key players: Sam Meklin, Sr., QB-DE; Dan Stone, Sr., RB-DB; Dan Hendricks, Sr., RB-OLB; Matt Zable, Sr., WR-DB; Jacob Butman, Sr., TE-DE; Jake St. Pierre, Sr., C-DT; Raheem James, Sr., RB-DB; Garrett Burns, Jr., FB-OLB; Damian Ball, Jr., RB-DB
Outlook: Led by Meklin and Hendricks, the Mariners have enough star power to earn one of the eight PTC Class B playoff berths, but how the team develops along the line of scrimmage may play a pivotal role in reaching their goal. Oceanside expected to get a boost late during preseason from the additions of seniors Eric Rahkonen, Travis Stone and Joe Njache to their roster, and that added depth also could prove valuable.