MILLINOCKET, Maine — With just a few days remaining until the start of preseason practices for the fall high school sports season, Stearns High School is in the market for a new varsity football coach.
Chris Preble, who guided the Minutemen for the last 13 years, resigned Tuesday as the school’s vice principal, athletic administrator and football coach to become assistant principal and a health teacher at Winslow Junior High School.
“It was kind of a sudden move that came about because there were some things going on with my role at Stearns. And I got interested in looking elsewhere, and an opportunity came up down here,” Preble said Wednesday afternoon from the Winslow school.
“I’m friends with somebody who works down here currently, and he spoke very highly of the school system and really enjoys working here. So I thought I’d give it a shot and throw my name in and see what happens, and I was offered the position,” Preble said.
“It was an extremely tough decision, but I had to take care of the future for me at this point,” he added.
Preble became the head football coach at Stearns, amid remarkably similar circumstances, just before the start of preseason practices in 2001, when Tom Bertrand suddenly stepped down to become a health teacher and assistant football coach at Winslow High School.
Preble went on to guide the Minutemen to the 2010 Eastern Maine Class C championship as well as a berth in the 2003 Little Ten Conference title game.
“It’s a great place,” said Preble, who arrived at Stearns as an assistant coach in 1998 after serving seven seasons in a similar capacity in Old Town. “The people I worked with and the students are awesome. It has nothing to do with the kids or staff; it was just the logistics of the situation.”
School officials are working to hire Preble’s coaching replacement at Stearns, with practices scheduled to start Monday, according to Frank Boynton, Millinocket’s new superintendent of schools.
Boynton said one assistant coach was approved Tuesday night with an eye toward conducting those preseason practices if a new head coach isn’t hired by then.
“We only got the resignation yesterday, so we’re working as quickly as we can to try to figure out what we can do,” Boynton said. “We want to ensure the safety of the children involved, and we want the program to go forward well. But I haven’t had a chance to sit with the principal and get everything ironed out yet. Things are happening pretty fast right now, and we’re all trying to get a handle on it.”