DIXFIELD – A change in philosophy will hopefully turn the tide for the Dirigo High School football team.

Wrestling coach Doug Gilbert was recently hired as head football coach at Dirigo. Gilbert replaces Hart Daley, who coached the team to a 2-7 record last fall.

Gilbert has several ideas in mind, and his no-nonsense attitude should provide his players with plenty of opportunities to improve their fortunes. One of the initial objectives will be to instill discipline throughout the entire program, putting everyone on the same page.

“I’ve been coaching wrestling for 20 years and do not just ask for perfection, but demand it,” Gilbert said. “I have the offensive scheme in mind and am confident it will work with the athletes we have.

“The kids have to realize that they need to be in shape when they show up for the first practice. We will not be working them slowly into shape. It will be zero-to-60 within the first 30 minutes of the first practice. The ones in shape will be OK, the others will be puking in the woods.”

After combining programs with Buckfield for a couple of years, Dirigo went solo last year, winning its final two games against Stearns and Traip.

“We will have a great group of athletes,” Gilbert said. “I seriously believe there are 15 players who could start on any Class C team in the state. The talent is there, the direction and discipline are not. There is plenty of experience between the four (coaches), so the kids had better be ready. I’m sure the coaching staff can at least get the program aimed in the right direction.”

The assistant coaches are expected to be Al Cayer and John Mooney. Cayer is no stranger to the program, having served as head coach during the early years of the program, and will be the defensive coordinator. Mooney, who earned All-State honors at Rumford High School in the early 1970s, will work with the tight ends and receivers. David Crutchfield will be the freshmen coach.

“Doug is a good coach, who is dedicated to Dirigo High School,” Dirigo athletic director Jeff Turnbull said. “He is experienced as both a coach and also a referee. He will add a lot of knowledge to the team.”

Gilbert had told the administration that he wouldn’t even consider coaching football as long as his daughter was still playing soccer. But with Deidre graduating this spring, his fall season will now be free.

Gilbert knows the commitment required to succeed in football. He played four years at Maine Maritime Academy, starting at middle linebacker as a freshman. He was a two-way player as a sophomore and junior (middle linebacker and right guard), and started at right guard as a senior, when he also doubled as the short yardage middle linebacker.

Gilbert has been refereeing football games for the past eight years and isn’t ready to give that up. He’ll continue coaching wrestling, so his biggest concern will be surviving coaching from the middle of August through the first of April.

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