BREWER, Maine — Basketball has been a big part of Clayton Blood’s life, from the mid-1970s when he starred as a player at Searsport High School to a varsity coaching career that has spanned nearly two decades.
Blood now is ready to return to that latter role after being approved by the Brewer school committee Monday night as the Witches’ new boys varsity basketball coach.
“I love teaching and working with kids, and in this situation it just happens to involve basketball,” said Blood, also an English teacher at the school. “Integrity and character certainly are part of my coaching philosophy, because if your team plays with integrity and character, you’ll be about as good as you can be.”
Blood replaces Ben Goodwin, who resigned from the post last month after four seasons, citing work and family reasons.
“There was a sense of shock when Coach Goodwin came to us and met with the kids, there was kind of a sense of panic, especially with the kids who wanted to know who their coach was going to be,” said Brewer athletic administrator Dave Utterback.
“But it really helps when you have someone like Clayton Blood teaching in the school who is so highly regarded in the basketball community and has already been part of the basketball community here. When the job came open, he came to us and asked when it was going to be posted and that he wanted it, and that made it easy for us.”
Goodwin compiled a 38-36 record at Brewer, a tenure highlighted by the Witches’ trip to the 2010 Eastern Maine Class A championship game during his first winter on the Witches’ bench after six years as the boys varsity coach at Orono High School.
“Ben had the philosophy of respecting young people and teaching life lessons as well as basketball, and those are things that I very much believe in,” said Blood.
This marks Blood’s second head coaching stint with the Witches, having guided Brewer to a 14-4 record during the 2008-09 season — a mark that at the time was the program’s best finish since 1984.
Blood subsequently was named the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A North co-coach of the year for that effort before resigning after the season for personal reasons.
Blood returned to the Brewer bench last winter as the Witches’ freshman basketball coach and as a varsity assistant under Goodwin.
“I had planned to come back next winter as the freshman coach until this came open,” said Blood. “I feel like this is a real good situation.”
Blood is looking forward to continuing working collaboratively with veteran assistant coaches Phil Pushard and Tim Thornton, the latter whose relationship with him dates back to 1987 when Blood was the boys varsity coach at Hermon and Thornton was the Hawks’ junior varsity coach.
“I couldn’t be happier working with Tim and Phil,” said Blood.
Blood was a Bangor Daily News All-Maine second-team honoree while playing at Searsport High School in 1976, then continued his playing career at the University of Maine at Farmington.
He coached basketball at the varsity level for 16 years before initially taking the Brewer post with one year at Belfast, two years at the former Mexico High School and 13 years at Hermon, where he compiled a 155-97 record before resigning after the 1999 season.
Brewer finished 8-10 last winter in Eastern Maine Class A and is expected to return a solid nucleus next season, including guard Brendan Newcomb and current freshmen Logan Rogerson and Ben Pushard, both of whom saw extended varsity duty last winter.
“One of the things I enjoy the most is looking at the personnel we have coming back and finding the right roles and program for the next year to give the kids the best chance to be successful,” said Blood.