H.S. Football: Aylward to coach Mt. Blue, pending board approval

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FARMINGTON — Only two men have coached varsity football at Mt. Blue High School since 1972, each leaving behind a state championship legacy.

It was going to take someone of tremendous stature, experience and accomplishment to fill those shoes.

The Cougars have their man.

Multiple sources have confirmed that Jim Aylward, who won four Class B championships in a transcendent 25-year run at Mountain Valley, is Mt. Blue’s next coach, pending approval by the RSU 9 school board Tuesday night.

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Aylward and Mt. Blue athletic director Todd Demmons have declined comment until after the hire is approved.

His two predecessors, Ray Caldwell and Gary Parlin, each led the Cougars for 21 seasons. They combined for four state titles, the most recent under Parlin’s watch in 2012.

The move means that Mountain Valley is looking for a football coach for the first time in its history.

Fresh out of college, Aylward began his career at Mexico. When Mexico and Rumford consolidated their high schools in 1989, Aylward took over the newly created position.

Aylward and his program transformed Chet Bulger Field at the Hosmer complex into the place to be on Friday nights (and late autumn Saturday afternoons) in the proud mill town.

Mountain Valley won Class B championships in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. In a staggering 17 of his first 23 seasons, Aylward’s Falcons made it to the Western Maine final.

The school’s fierce battles with Cape Elizabeth in the mid-2000s inspired the critically acclaimed documentary “The Rivals.”

It was filmed during the 2007 season, when Mountain Valley lost a close battle of unbeaten teams on Halloween Night, only to avenge it with a 10-0 victory in the Class B West final two weeks later. Aylward’s customary humor and sharp tongue made him a star of the show.

Two of his recent stars, Justin Staires and Cam Kaubris, were finalists for the Fitzpatrick Trophy, presented each year to the top senior player in the state.

Declining enrollment and the changing landscape of high school football had brought leaner times in recent years. The Falcons went 3-6 in 2012 and 1-7 in 2013.

Mountain Valley dropped from Class B to Class C last year when the Maine Principals’ Association restructured the enrollment cutoff numbers, adding a fourth class to football.

The Falcons could have played in Class D by virtue of their student population, but petitioned up to C, mostly in deference to their storied football tradition.

This past season’s victory over Gray-New Gloucester was the 200th of Aylward’s career.

Recent school improvements at Mt. Blue, including a relocated football field with an upgraded surface, make the Cougars’ post an attractive one.

From Fitzy winner Dustin Ireland in 1995 to Andrew Pratt (grandson of Caldwell) in 2013, Parlin’s teams were blessed with a long line of all-star quarterbacks.

Aylward’s tradition of hard-nosed, power football has more in common with Caldwell than Parlin. But his Mountain Valley squads featured quarterbacks who could air it out, as well, from Matt Gaudet to Andy Shorey to Cam Kaubris.

The 52-year-old Aylward lives in neighboring Jay.

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