Monday, December 9, 2013
By DALE DUFF Special to the Telegram
ELLSWORTH - A 68-year-old guy coaching high schoolers is rare these days.
Coaching the same sport at the same school for 39 consecutive years is even rarer.
Meet Brian Higgins, Ellsworth boys' soccer coach -- since 1974.
You remember '74, right? Nixon resigned. The stock market plunged to about 616. Babs was singing her hit "The Way We Were" on the radio.
Ellsworth needed a soccer coach that year and Higgins was the guy, even though he had never played the sport. Five hundred and thirteen wins, 16 regional titles and four state titles later, he's still the guy.
His players swear by him.
"I've known him since kindergarten or first grade. We connected right off the bat," said Josh Bean. "He knows how to push my buttons."
Bean is a senior on this year's 8-0 team. In fact, Bean has never lost a regular-season game in his four years as a varsity player.
Higgins admitted after Tuesday's win at Hermon that success comes with a price.
"Every team that plays us, if they beat us once, they're in the playoffs. It's been that way forever."
Now the question is whether Ellsworth soccer can keep its success going with the addition of a high school football team.
Higgins doesn't seem worried.
"I don't think we've lost any players so far. Orono has had great soccer and football teams, even cross country, too. I think there's room," he said.
He is more concerned about finding a way to break the stranglehold Western Maine soccer has on Class B. The Eastern champion hasn't won a state game since 1993. Higgins' Eagles team defeated Marshwood that year but have lost six other times since.
And then there's the question of how much longer Higgins will coach. It might be only for a couple of years, when his 10 talented sophomores graduate.
PRESSURE? WHAT PRESSURE: At the PVC golf championship at Jato Highlands Golf Course in Lincoln, Old Town senior Hazen Dauphinee was one of the three players tied for the 21st and final spot for the upcoming state individual tournament. Dauphinee sank a par putt on the third playoff hole to win the spot.
MAN TO BEAT: A year ago, Deer Isle-Stonington golfer Sam Grindle was state runner-up to Madison's Seth Sweet. With Sweet at college, Grindle will enter the state individual tournament in two weeks as PVC medalist. He shot an even-par 72 in Lincoln.
JACK OF ALL TRADES: Tehon Fox of Washington Academy is the Eastern Class C football player of the week. As a halfback, he rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns. As a receiver, he caught three passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns. As a kicker, he booted a 34-yard field goal as time expired to give the Raiders their first win.