HERMON, Maine — Brad Deuring’s playing career was spent in the trenches, a lineman opening holes for the rushing attack and protecting the quarterback at Husson University.
But as the new head football coach at Hermon High School, the Medway, Massachusetts, native talks more like the ballcarrier or defender behind the line of scrimmage.
“We want to run the ball and just fly around,” said Deuring this week. “We want to play with speed. We have some good pieces, and we’re going to try to get our athletes in space when we can.”
Deuring, 26, replaces Ken Frederick, who stepped down after guiding the Hawks through their developmental stage and first three seasons of varsity competition.
That included a 5-3 finish in the LTC in 2012 before Hermon was moved up to the new Eastern Maine Class C in the four-class format adopted by the Maine Principals’ Association for high school football beginning last season.
That move up meant Hermon, a Class C football school by enrollment, faced a schedule of larger-school programs for the first time and finished 2013 with an 0-8 record.
Deuring, who experienced each of the last two seasons as an offensive and defensive line coach under Frederick, hopes the returning nucleus of about 10 seniors that also enjoyed the winning campaign of 2012 and the struggles of 2013 will make the most of their final opportunity on a high school gridiron.
“The seniors have been on both sides of it, a lot of them played on that 5-3 team, and they played on that 0-8 team,” said Deuring, whose team travels to Lincoln on Friday night for an exhibition game against Mattanawcook Academy before opening its regular season at Belfast on Sept. 5.
“We talk about pride and history and tradition, and this is a great opportunity for them to write the next chapter and help us put this program on the map and go forward,” he said.
That senior class features running back Dave Shepardson, a four-year varsity player who rushed for more than 1,400 yards as a sophomore and also led Hermon on the ground last season.
But while Shepardson figures to be a focal point of the Hawks’ attack again this season, Deuring hopes to spread the responsibilities around.
“He’s going to get the ball a lot,” said Deuring, “but we’ve got some other nice pieces we’re going to get the ball to. It’s going to be a team effort. Everybody’s got to do their job, and we’ll be OK.”
Deuring, who teaches at Caravel Middle School in nearby Carmel, said he was impressed by the number of players — between 26 and 35 — who turned out regularly for offseason workouts and welcomed a roster of about 40 players to preseason practices.
“These guys have come in and done a good job of working hard, and they’re starting to see what it really takes to be a team and build a program,” he said. “We’re taking it one day at a time and working to get better every day.”
Deuring added that the senior leadership on the team has been pivotal in the transition to a coaching staff that includes assistant coaches Craig Nichols, Micah Cram, Ben Foss, John Roberts and Joey Martin.
“This senior class is the crew that kind of started Hermon football,” he said. “They came up through the rec program, and it’s good to see these guys come through and get that one last hurrah.
“We’re going to do everything we can as a coaching staff and as a team to have them go out with a bang,” he said.