HERMON, Maine — The Hermon High School football program has not lacked for participants in recent years.
More than 45 players completed the 2016 season and teams throughout the youth football program routinely have achieved similar turnouts. There were an estimated 180 participants from pre-K punt, pass and kick-style programs through middle school last fall.
But the rise from from a first-year varsity program in 2011 to a four-year member of Class C North has been a competitive struggle, something new head coach Kyle Gallant hopes to change.
Gallant, 27, was hired Friday morning to replace Brad Duering, who resigned in January after guiding the Hawks to a 3-21 record over the last three seasons, including 2-6 last fall.
“All the public pieces are there to put Hermon football on the map,” said Gallant. “I just think we need to get them together and start making this a football program.
“The numbers are great, the way the community views football and their love for football is great, and I’m excited along with my staff to lead this team down a good path.”
Gallant, the married father of three children, is a 2008 graduate of John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor where he was a three-sport standout before playing baseball at Thomas College in Waterville.
He works in his family’s businesses and has been coaching football in the area for eight years. He was an assistant coach under Dan O’Connell at John Bapst for six seasons and spent the last two years in Hermon as the middle-school head coach and director of the youth football program.
Gallant guided Hermon’s seventh- and eighth-grade team to an 8-0 record last fall.
“I’m excited to see where things head,” said Hermon athletic administrator Stephanie Biberstein. “It’s nice having Kyle here with the consistency of him having been in the program with a successful couple of years at the middle school.
“I think Kyle’s going to do an awesome job.”
Gallant and Biberstein said one significant step made in the Hermon system was the institution of a third- and fourth-grade tackle football program last fall. That team, which attracted nearly 40 players, puts Hermon on an equal footing with most other schools it plays.
“Kids have been starting in third grade at other programs and they have two years of tackle football under their belt while our kids in previous years had been starting in fifth grade and wouldn’t have even learned the safety aspects of tackling that someone would who started in third grade,” said Gallant.
“I think it’s one of the best things that’s happened to date for the Hermon football community.”
Hermon’s middle-school success and that winning feeling is something Gallant aspires to take to the varsity ranks.
“The atmosphere here is amazing, it’s very much like shutting down the town and everyone coming to the football games,” he said.
“Everyone is just itching and hoping that Hermon football turns around. We’ve gone in the right direction at the youth level, and now it’s time to take it in the same direction at the high school level.”