Traip Academy expects to be playing in a new class of high school football in 2017.
The Rangers know they will have a new head coach.
Ron Ross has resigned as the team’s coach after 15 seasons. He kept the program afloat despite typically small rosters and a 51-game losing streak early in his career,
Ross said Sunday that a job he took before the 2016 season proved too time consuming to allow him to continue to coach.
Before he left, Ross suggested that the MPA Football Committee’s newly proposed Class E was the right spot for his former squad.
“I did tell (Traip athletic director) Mike Roberge that Class E was the place to go,” said Ross, who submitted his resgination three weeks ago.
“We have made a decision that hopefully will help the program in the long run and will play in the new Class E division,” Roberge said.
Traip and Maranacook are the two current varsity programs that will play in the six-team, non-championship, fifth division as it is currently proposed.
The other four teams – Boothbay Region, Camden Hills, Sacopee Valley and Telstar – did not play varsity football last season. (The Portland Press Herald mistakenly stated in a Feb. 8 story that Stearns/Lee, not Traip, would be the sixth team in Class E.)
Class E is designed as a league that will bring teams in need of development under the MPA’s structure. Any crossover games the Class E teams can schedule will count for both teams in the Crabtree standings.
In an earlier form of the five-class proposal, Old Orchard Beach was the sixth team. OOB requested to stay in Class D South in part because its administration feels the team needs to be in a league that competes for a state championship.
“Next year (Traip is) going to be very young, with two seniors, one junior, probably nine freshmen and eight sophomores,” Ross said. “We have had a hard enough time competing in Class D with Oak Hill, Winthrop, and Lisbon. Now with teams like Wells and Mountain Valley moving to D, that’s too much for such a young squad.
“We have a great current freshman class and with the eighth grade starting back up, in a couple of years they’ll be fighting for playoffs but they need Class E to build.”
The football committee’s five-class proposal is scheduled to go to the classification committee for approval. That meeting, originally scheduled for Monday, has been postponed until 9 a.m. Tuesday.
If the classification committee approves the proposal it will be voted on for final approval by the full MPA membership at the annual April meeting.
If the current proposal is approved, York and Morse, along with Leavitt, will move from Class B South to Class C South. Class B South, which was a 12-team league, will become an eight-team league as Mt. Ararat shifts from the South to Class B North.
Former Class C teams Poland, Madison/Carrabec (which was in the North), Spruce Mountain, and defending state champion Wells will join Class D South. In the past, Mountain Valley and Wells have petitioned to play up in Class C. Spruce Mountain and Madison/Carrabec have had significant decreases in enrollment.
In the North, Nokomis and Gardiner drop from Class B (now a nine-team league) and move to the 12-team Class C North. That includes Winslow, a Class D-size school that has indicated it will petition to remain in Class C.
Roberge said Traip’s coaching job has been advertised for about a week.
Ross said coaching Traip football “was never an easy,” job but “I always had good kids to work with.”
Ross was an assistant at Traip for three seasons before becoming the head coach.
“Ron Ross has been a stable figure for Traip football for almost 20 years,” Roberge said. “He has had a positive impact on hundreds of student athletes.”
After Traip snapped its 51-game losing streak in Ross’ fifth season in 2006, the program improved gradually. From 2010-2012 the Rangers went a combined 24-8 with three straight Class C playoff appearances, reaching the Western final in 2011. But even in its best seasons, Traip’s roster hovered around 20 players.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or: