The Old Town High School football team was one of the state’s best success stories a year ago.
After going 4-62 under six different coaches over the previous eight seasons, first-year coach Steve Calande guided them to a 5-3 record.
The Coyotes didn’t qualify for the playoffs because they were a Class B school playing a Class C schedule.
The Coyotes, who didn’t win a game in 2009, will be playoff-eligible in Class B this fall and Calande expects his team to be in the playoff hunt.
“We’re going to be pretty good,” said Calande. “We have a lot of returning talent. I’m expecting good things. It’ll be fun.”
Calande conceded that his team isn’t deep but, “we have a good starting 11” on both sides of the ball.
The players have a genuine enthusiasm created by their first taste of winning.
“Our confidence is so much higher this year,” said senior wingback-linebacker Danny Rivers. “It’s amazing. We’re looking good. Both lines are a lot faster this year and our backfield is faster.”
“We are miles ahead of where we were at this time last year,” said senior center Evan Roy.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said senior fullback-linebacker John Toole. “We’ve still got a lot of size but now we’ve got a lot more speed. We’ve got a year of experience under coach and we know the system pretty well.”
He said now that they have had some success, they want more.
“Once you start winning and get used to it, you expect to win,” said Toole, who will be a prominent member of the double-wing backfield.
Rivers, junior Tyler Barnes and senior Steven Lilly will get their share of carries and Trevor Eastman, a senior, is also part of the equation.
Junior Cameron Archer will quarterback the team after guiding the JVs to an undefeated season and throwing three touchdown passes in the first half of an extra (exhibition) varsity game against Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln.
Calande considers Archer his fastest player and said his versatility will enable them to add, “a couple of things to our arsenal that we didn’t use last year.”
Archer can both run and throw and that will diversify the offense.
“We’re going to use his abilities. He’s very smart and a hard worker,” said Calande.
Roy, tackles Peter Wilcox and Adam Boucher and sophomore guard Zach Bartlett anchor a strong offensive line.
“Bartlett started every game as a freshman. He’s the real deal,” said Calande.
Senior Brian Guay and sophomore Dylan Miles will be the tight ends.
Boucher, an All LTC Class C second-team middle guard last year, will be one of mainstays on a veteran defense.
Wilcox, according to Calande, is a exceptional defensive tackle.
Guay and Eastman will be the defensive ends and Bartlett will also play up front.
Toole, Barnes and Miles will be the linebackers with Archer, Lilly and Rivers heading up the secondary.
The players credit Calande with transforming them into winners.
“He’s amazing. He’s very positive and we do a lot of reps during practice,” said Roy.
Roy and Rivers said Calande told the players they were going to win and elevated their confidence level with his positive approach.
OLD TOWN HIGH SCHOOL COYOTES
2009 results: 5-3 as Class B team playing C schedule
Head coach: Steve Calande, second year
Key players: Johnny Toole, FB-LB, Sr., Dan Rivers, WB-LB, Sr., Evan Roy, C, Sr., Cameron Archer, QB-CB, Jr., Adam Boucher, NG-OT, Jr., Steven Lilly, WB-CB, Sr., Peter Wilcox, DT-OT, Sr., Tyler Barnes, WB-FB-LB, Jr., Brian Guay, TE-DE, Sr., Zach Bartlett, OG-DT, So., Trevor Eastman, FB-DE, Sr.
Outlook: Calande transformed the Coyotes from cellar-dwellers to winners in his first season. The five wins were one more than the previous eight years combined. Old Town should be improved in all areas. They will have to replace leading rusher Ryan Boyington, a first-team All-LTC Class C running back, and second team end Levi Stokes but they have plenty of weapons including a quarterback in Archer who can hurt defenses through the air and on the ground. If they can stay healthy, the Coyotes should be a legitimate playoff contender.