Hartman leaves Yarmouth for Portland

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After guiding the Yarmouth football program from the Developmental League to the Class C pinnacle, twice, Jim Hartman is leaving the Clippers to become the new coach at Portland High, replacing Mike Bailey.

Hartman has long been known in the Portland community for his work with the youth program in the city. He started coaching the Clippers in 2004, when they were still in the Developmental League.

Hartman said he was torn about leaving the powerhouse he helped create, but ultimately the pull of coaching in his hometown for one of the most storied programs in the state tipped the scales.

“It was a very hard decision,” Hartman said. “In the end, the major thing was coming home to coach in my hometown and see more of my wife and grandkids.”

Hartman took his lumps in the program’s first two varsity seasons, 2007 and 2008, when Yarmouth went a combined 1-17.

It looked like it would be more of the same when the Clippers dropped their first two contests in 2009, but the team, paced by great athletes with unrivaled speed, put it together, winning its final six games before upsetting Livermore Falls and Old Orchard Beach in the Western C playoffs. Yarmouth’s run ended with a loss at Dirigo in the regional final.

The Clippers haven’t dropped a game since.

Yarmouth toyed with most of its competition the past two seasons and survived tough regional final tests versus Lisbon in 2010 and Traip in 2011 before dominating Stearns and Bucksport in respective state final routs.

With seven starters on both sides of the ball set to return in 2012, Hartman had a tough time saying goodbye.

“(Yarmouth) was a ton of fun,” Hartman said. “I grew up as a coach there. I had gone through the youth and junior high level and thought I knew everything. I got schooled at first. Susan Robbins is a great athletic director. I can’t say enough about what a class act she is. The kids taught me a lot about coaching. My assistants were great. It was a great learning process.”

Robbins said she was sad to see Hartman go, but wished him success.

“The town of Yarmouth will always be grateful to Jim Hartman for developing a football program grounded in our core values,” she said. “Jim is a passionate, hard working, talented coach he will be missed. We wish him the very best in his new position with Portland.”

Portland finished 2-6 last year, but was competitive with a young roster. Hartman knows the job won’t be easy.

“As a rule, you never replace a great coach, but I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I’m energized. I haven’t seen the kids play, but watching some in basketball, it looks like they’re great athletes.”

Hartman was initially approached after Bailey stepped down after Thanksgiving, but it took him awhile to come around.

“I was getting calls from parents, but I was still very tired from the season,” Hartman said. “I had to reintroduce myself to my grandchildren. If we didn’t have such great people in Yarmouth, I would have made the decision in December.”

Ultimately, Hartman heeded the big city’s call.

“It’s a premier job that’s right down my street,” Hartman said. “It’s Class A football. They play on a great field.”

Portland athletic director Mike McCullum is glad to have Hartman on board.

“Portland High School is very excited to announce Jim Hartman as head football coach, pending school board approval,” McCullum said. “Coach Hartman has great energy and has proven his ability to develop programs both at Yarmouth and with Portland youth football. We’re very pleased to welcome him back to the Portland football community.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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Yarmouth football coach Jim Hartman is leaving the two-time defending Class C state champion Clippers to become the new coach at Portland High.

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.