HERMON, Maine — Step by step, Hermon is becoming a football community.

The town’s school committee voted unanimously this week to approve fielding a football team at the high school next fall.

That team, which will start out competing on the junior varsity level, will be evaluated annually and funded separate from the school budget.

“I thought the school committee did a great job in supporting this program,” said Hermon athletic administrator Paul Soucy. “And in these fiscal times, it was important to have it funded outside the school budget.”

The 5-0 vote came in the aftermath of a vote by the Town Council approving a $20,000 contribution to help with start-up costs once the program gained school committee approval.

Beyond that contribution, which Soucy said would help outfit approximately 35 players, funding for the high school team will come through a per player fee, private donations, gate receipts and local fundraising efforts.

“There’s no question there’s been a lot of support in the community for football over the last three years,” said Soucy. “But it’s going to take a lot of work to fund it outside the school budget entirely.”

Some equipment, such as a seven-man sled and other blocking equipment, already had been purchased as part of the growing football movement in the community.

The move to seek support for a high school team came after several years of developmental efforts locally.

In 2003 and 2004 teams of high school- and middle school-age football players from Hermon and Carmel competed in the Moosehead Trail Football League. That grouping of rural football programs proved instrumental in the development of current varsity programs at Mount View of Thorndike and Nokomis of Newport.

Three years ago, the Hermon Recreation Department, under director Scott Perkins, began a flag football program for youths in grades 3 and 4 that fielded 42 players on four teams in its first year.

A year later, a tackle program for fifth- and sixth-graders was added, and last fall another tackle football program for seventh-and eighth-graders was established.

Through the three levels, an estimated 100 youngsters played football in the Hermon Recreation Department program last fall.

A sign-up to gauge student interest in playing high school football at Hermon this coming season drew the interest of 30 students from Caravel Middle School in Carmel and Hermon Middle School who will be freshmen during the 2009-10 academic year, as well as 29 students who will be sophomores and juniors at Hermon this fall.

“Our goal this August is to have between 30 and 40 kids who make that commitment to high school football,” said Soucy.

Hermon will seek to play at least a six-game subvarsity schedule for each of the next two seasons, which then would enable the Hawks to apply for varsity status as soon as the 2011 season under Maine Principals’ Association rules.

Soucy has contacted the Pine Tree Conference Class B division and the Class C LTC about scheduling junior varsity games for the 2009 season.

The high school team will practice on the field behind the middle school that has been home to the football program in recent years, but would play its home contests at the soccer field on the high school campus.

CBS to air award winners’ story

Patrick Thibodeau of Greely of Cumberland Center and Josh Titus of Edward Little of Auburn, recipients of the first Maine McDonald’s Spirit of the Game Awards during the Maine All-Star Basketball Weekend at Husson University last month, will be featured Saturday as part of the CBS television coverage of the NCAA bas-ketball Final Four.

Titus, who has autism, and Thibodeau, who has Down’s syndrome, each has been the manager of his high school basketball team, and each played in his team’s final regular-season game this season. Titus scored nine points and pulled down two rebounds against Leavitt of Turner Center, while Thibodeau scored six points against Gray-New Gloucester.

Titus and Thibodeau subsequently served as team managers for the Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star Games played at Husson on March 14.

That came one night after they received the inaugural Spirit of the Game Award, which honors two high school seniors — one from Eastern Maine and one from the West — who embody the spirit of the sport, exemplify sportsmanship, support and inspire their teammates and coaching staff, and who show an ability to overcome obstacles and boundaries.

Titus, Thibodeau and their parents will be in Detroit for the Final Four this weekend, and the eight- to 10-minute segment documenting their stories will air between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday.

Carpenter, Spencer at nationals

Scott Carpenter, a Calais High School wrestler who won the 2009 Class C state championship at 119 pounds this winter, competed this week at the National High School Coaches Association’s fourth annual High School Sophomore Wrestling Championships at Virginia Beach, Va.

Carpenter went 1-2 during his two days of competition. He defeated Anthony Labreck of Maryland in his first match, pinning his opponent in 2 minutes, 32 seconds.

He then lost a 7-0 decision to Cody Hone of Utah in his final match Wednesday, then was edged 3-2 by Evan Fraser of Connecticut in a consolation-round match Thursday.

Another Eastern Maine wrestler, Travis Spencer of Belfast, was scheduled to begin competition Friday at the 20th annual High School Senior Wrestling Championships. Spencer, a four-time Class B individual state champion, will compete in the 189-pound class.

Spencer finished sixth in his weight class at last year’s junior nationals to earn All-American honors, and he placed second at this year’s New England championships.

Because of his 2008 finish at the nationals, Spencer drew a first-round bye before pinning Jose Garnica of North Carolina in 3:49 to advance to a third-round match against Samuel Kuntz of Georgia.

The senior championships continue through Sunday.

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...