BREWER, Maine — Two years into his career as a varsity football coach, Nick Arthers already is versed in the rebuilding process.
Now he’ll take those skills from Old Town to Brewer after being approved as the Witches’ new head coach by the Brewer School Committee on Monday night, said athletic administrator Dave Utterback.
Arthers replaces Don Farnham, who stepped down from the position in March after guiding the team for the last eight seasons.
“Old Town is a tremendous school. They’ve got great kids there,” said the 28-year-old Arthers. “And that makes this one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.”
Arthers also was hired as a physical education teacher at Brewer. He had served in a similar capacity at Old Town during the 2012-13 school year, but due to declining enrollment, that job was reduced from teacher to educational technician for the current academic year.
“Brewer is a tremendous school with great tradition, and one of the big things for me was the whole package with the PE job,” said Arthers. “At this stage of my career, that made this the right thing for me. This is a great opportunity.”
The son of longtime former Belfast coach Butch Arthers, Nick Arthers quarterbacked and co-captained his father’s 2003 state championship team. He also was a semifinalist for the Fitzpatrick Trophy symbolic of the state’s top senior school player-sportsman that season after averaging 7.8 yards per rushing attempt and starting at linebacker as well as serving as the Lions’ punter and playing on special teams.
Arthers went on to focus athletically on baseball at the University of Maine and Husson University, from which he graduated in 2009. As a senior catcher at Husson, he was named the North Atlantic Conference Player of the Year and a New England Baseball Writers Association second-team all-star after batting .416 while leading the Eagles to a school-record 33 victories and their first trip to the NCAA Division III tournament.
Arthers then served as an assistant football coach at Belfast before taking over the Old Town program in 2012, and after a 1-7 debut season, he guided the Coyotes to a 4-4 regular-season record and an Eastern Maine Class C playoff berth last fall.
Arthers also has coached junior varsity baseball at Old Town and is about to begin his fifth summer as head coach of the Hampden American Legion baseball team.
Arthers coached baseball under Utterback during the 2012 season while working as an educational technician at Old Town, then replaced Utterback as a physical education teacher at the school when Utterback was hired as Brewer’s athletic administrator.
“He developed an excellent rapport with the kids he coached at Old Town, and he was building toward good things with that (football) program,” said Utterback. “But the opportunity presented itself at Brewer with the PE teaching position, and we’re glad to have him here.”
He takes over a Brewer program that went 1-7 last year after being placed in Eastern Maine Class B under the new four-class format adopted by the Maine Principals’ Association.
Brewer had been reclassified to Class B from Class A by enrollment in 2011 and made back-to-back playoff appearances, but the statewide shift from three to four classes resulted in many longtime Class A powers such as Lawrence of Fairfield, Brunswick, Messalonskee of Oakland and 2013 state champion Cony of Augusta joining the Witches in a revised and highly competitive Eastern B last year.
Brewer, the second-smallest school in the new-look Eastern B with just over 700 students, scored its lone victory last fall against Gardiner, the only school in the division with a smaller enrollment.
“B East is a very, very competitive league with a lot of former Class A schools,” said Arthers. “It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s a challenge I’m excited to take on.”
Arthers said he met a couple of Brewer players during the interview process, and plans to meet with the full team Wednesday.
Among goals for the summer, said Arthers, is for the players to maintain their strength and conditioning efforts as well as become familiar with a playbook that likely will be significantly different from those of most recent vintage.
Arthers plans to focus on a hard-nosed run-based offense modeled after his father’s coaching philosophy and that of legendary former Marshwood of South Berwick coach Rod Wotton, under whom Butch Arthers coached before taking the Belfast post.
Brewer most recently has employed a spread offense.
“The biggest thing during the summer will be getting to know the kids first and foremost,” said Arthers.