PORTLAND—Deering first-year football coach Scott Parsons resigned last week, in the wake of an ejection at the end of a loss at Massabesic.
Parsons was ejected late in the Rams’ 13-12 loss at Massabesic Sept. 27, an especially painful setback where winless Deering let a late 12-0 lead slip away.
Last Tuesday, Deering athletic director Melanie Craig announced that assistant coach Matt Riddell would serve as the interim coach for Deering’s Homecoming Game versus Lewiston, but Wednesday, Craig wrote via a text to media members that school principal Ira Waltz had accepted Parsons’ resignation and that Riddell will be the interim coach for the rest of the season.
“It was very, very emotional Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday when we were trying to figure our what would happen,” said Riddell. “We’re trying to put together a puzzle that’s a little broken right now. The kids have responded well to the adversity and have practiced well. It will take some time to heal.”
Parsons, who was also Deering’s offensive coordinator, played at Kennebunk High and went on to Central Connecticut, where he was a four-year starter at defensive end. He had several coaching stints at the high school and college levels (including at Fordham University) prior to replacing Jon Gallant, who stepped down after two seasons as the Rams’ head coach. Gallant is now the head coach at Massabesic.
Attempts to contact Parsons for comment were unsuccessful.
Riddell was a guard and linebacker at Lewiston High School, Class of 1987. He played in the 1985 Class A state final, a 65-13 loss to Cheverus. Riddell has two decades of coaching experience. He’s worked with the traditionally strong Bonny Eagle program and is an offensive line/special teams coach with the Maine Sabers. He coached the Southern Maine Raging Bulls to an undefeated season and a championship in 2011.
Riddell will also be the offensive coordinator with Deering. Assistant Eamon White has taken over the offensive line. Rocco Severino, Rob Kierstead and Bill Presby also remain on the staff.
“Deering is very thankful and fortunate to have the high quality staff on board to step up and fill the positions that were opened by Coach Parsons’ resignation,” said Craig. “While it is never an ideal situation to take over for your head coach partway through the season, I remain completely confident in Coach Riddell and the remaining staff to move this program forward. It is a credit to these coaches for their commitment to Deering and our student-athletes. Every one of them accepted the challenge and committed to stay with our kids. They believe in our kids and I believe in them. I am excited to continue to work with this coaching staff as we move forward.”
Craig said that the position will re-open following the season.
“Matt was appointed as the interim head coach to complete the 2013 season,” Craig said. “At the end of this season, the staff and I will evaluate our next steps. Portland Public School stipends are only one-year positions and every coach opening is re-opened from school year to school year. Every coach must let me know of their wish to return the following season.”
On the field, the Rams have their hands full, but there are silver linings. Friday, Deering lost its Homecoming game to Lewiston, 29-16. The Rams did score a couple of highlight reel touchdowns. The first came on a long pass from quarterback Max Chabot which was intended for receiver Dominick Bernard, but the ball went through Bernard’s hands, hit off the hands of a defender, then fell into the eager arms of Ricardo Delgado, who raced the final 50 yards into the end zone to complete an 80-yard score. The second TD came on a pass from Chabot to Bernard, who broke several tackles en route to the end zone on a 40-yard score.
“I like to think that the lessons learned during the week were reflected during the game,” said Riddell. “It’s going to be a challenge. We have 26 players on varsity and 20 on sub-varsity. We made some young guy mistakes. We started six sophomores on both sides of the ball. We have to cut down on mental errors. You can’t give the other team the ball inside their 20 and expect to win.”
Despite its travails, Deering is still very much in the Eastern A playoff hunt. Despite sitting 0-5 and eighth in the region, the Rams know that six teams make the postseason and a couple victories down the stretch might just get them in.
Deering goes to 1-4 Oxford Hills Friday, hosts Edward Little next week, then closes at home versus Cheverus.
“Playoffs are still in the picture,” said Riddell.”The league is very top heavy. Four teams are in the running for spots 5 and 6. If we can win two of our last three games, we could be in. No one’s giving up. We’ll do our best.
“I see an incredibly bright future for the program. Kids who should be playing JV are playing varsity and are being competitive. They’re honest with themselves. They know they have learning to do. The coaches want to provide the kids with the best experience possible.”
Deering sophomore Dominick Bernard almost blocks a punt during the Rams’ 29-16 home loss to Lewiston Friday night, Deering’s first game under interim coach Matt Riddell.