ROCKPORT, Maine — The Camden Hills football team found itself back in a rebuilding mode last fall after earning an Pine Tree Conference Class B playoff berth a year earlier — in just its second season as the varsity program.
Now Steve Wadsworth, who has been active in the Five Town Football organization that serves as a feeder system and major funding source for youth football at all levels in the area, will attempt to further the high school team’s development as the Windjammers’ new varsity head coach.
Wadsworth, who has coached middle-school-age (grades 7-8) football within the Five Town system for the last three years, replaces Linwood Downs, who resigned after the 2011 season.
Downs was one of the organizers of Five Town Football back in 2005 and went on to guide Camden Hills through its first three seasons of varsity competition.
“We’re very happy to have Steve on board,” Camden Hills athletic administrator Bill Hughes said. “He’s been coaching in the Five Towns Football league at the middle school level for several years, and he’s also been part of the Five Towns Football boosters organization.
“He’s coached all the kids now in the [high school] program at the middle school level. He’s high-energy, and he’s well-respected by the kids and the coaches.”
Camden Hills, 0-8 a year ago, graduated just eight players from that team, but Wadsworth knows that maintaining consistency from year to year will require building the number of participants at a school with a rich soccer tradition.
His middle school team had 22 players last year, 18 in 2010.
“It’s been a long grind coming up with the numbers,” said Wadsworth, “but I think that will change in the next few years.”
Wadsworth points to some recent success within the Five Town effort, which provides football opportunities to youngsters from Appleton, Camden, Hope, Lincolnville and Rockport.
Last fall, for example, a team of Five Town Football fourth- and fifth-graders went undefeated and won the Maine Youth Football League junior varsity state championship.
“It’s a process, but we’re getting there,” Wadsworth said. “The feeder program will be a key.”
Also pivotal to the program’s growth will be fundraising efforts. The school system does pay for some elements of the high school team, but much of the funding is supplied by the Five Town Football boosters group.
“Our present situation with the development the program at the high school is at is unique in terms of team funding,” Hughes said. “Where football is not 100 percent funded by the school, the boosters group has been invaluable in terms of funding. Without them the team wouldn’t exist.
“Steve has been involved with it from the beginning, so he knows exactly where we’re at.”