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The Scarborough varsity football program is ready to name a new head coach.
The Red Storm will tap longtime Portland High assistant Lance Johnson, pending School Board approval Thursday night.
Johnson, 43, is primed to take over a program that has yet to make the playoffs in its eight seasons in Class A, but he is eager for the opportunity and optimistic he can turn things around.
“I’m excited to be a head coach,” Johnson said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to go into that community, which is very supportive. Scarborough’s great with youth sports. I’ve been at this quite awhile. I felt it was time to try and become a head coach. I’m excited to work with the kids and the coaching staff and try to get this program going in the right direction.”
Johnson is a 1985 graduate of Portland High, where he played football, hockey and baseball. He went on to play football at Bates College and upon graduation, became an assistant to Mike Bailey with the Bulldogs. A role he’s held for 21 years, as an offensive and defensive coordinator.
“I’m incredibly blessed to have worked for Mike,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t be more prepared after working for him. I’ve learned going into a season you have to do the work you should.”
Bailey said that Johnson is the right man for the job.
“It’s well deserved,” said Bailey. “He’s worked hard. He’s a great guy too with a lot of experience. My assistant coaches have a lot of input. He had more than most. He was an offensive coordinator a long time and a defensive coordinator prior to that. He has all the attributes of a head coach. His Xs and Os are very strong. He’s very organized. He’s been ready for a long time. This is the right opportunity.
“Scarborough’s a sleeping giant. They have great numbers. They have a good youth program and feeder system. It’s a great situation for a first-year coach.”
Scarborough athletic director Gary Groves was also on Bailey’s staff at Portland High and feels Johnson is a great fit.
“I’m really happy for him,” Groves said. “We had a solid field of candidates, but Lance is so well respected in the league. He’s a master of film and game planning. Our kids will walk on the field extremely prepared to play football. I’m very confident he’ll take this program to the next level.”
Scarborough, under coach Jack Flynn, was an instant hit as a program when it debuted in Class B in 2001, reaching the regional final in its first season before losing to York. The following autumn, the Red Storm went 8-1 in the regular season and went on to win the Class B championship, holding off Belfast, 14-12, in the state game.
Flynn then retired and Scarborough moved up to Class A, but struggled after losing its top players to graduation. The Red Storm went just 4-28 in four seasons under coach Eric Klein and went 6-18 in three seasons coached by Dave Sterling.
Johnson feels the program’s ready to turn the corner and that it’s best days are in the near future.
“I bring experience,” he said. “I know the league and the coaches. I’ve spent a lot of time watching film and game planning. Scarborough’s been successful in many different sports. I don’t see why they shouldn’t be successful in football.
“We’ll try and get the youth leagues more organized and get a good feeder system going. The high school players will run clinics with the youth players. That’s important. Kids need to come in the summer and get used to our system.”
In an interesting twist, Scarborough and Portland will meet in the exhibition season this fall. The teams are not scheduled to play in the regular year.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com