Mark Soehren knew that if he got the coaching job he coveted, he would not only have to work on improving the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School football program on the field, but rebuild its reputation off the field as well.

The former Poland Regional High School coach is eager for the challenge.

Soehren is the third varsity coach in three years at Oxford Hills. He replaces Paul Withee, who had to resign in February after admitting to posting a nude picture of himself on Facebook.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the position,” Soehren said. “When I left Poland, there was no (open) football position here. I’ve lived in the district for 10 years and took a teaching job up here and left the football position at Poland not knowing when I might be involved but, of course hoping I’d be involved.”

Soehren, 42, coached at Poland from 2008-2010, compiling a 4-23 record with the Knights, who played in the Campbell Conference Class B at the time (they moved down to Class C prior to last season). He resigned in 2011 to take the science teaching position at Oxford Hills he currently holds.

Last year, Soehren and Nate Danforth, who preceded Withee as head coach, were co-defensive coordinators for a team that finished 1-8.


“It was good to be an assistant. It gave me a lot of perspective again,” Soehren said.

“He was with our kids last year in the program and did a nice job,” Oxford Hills athletic director Jeff Benson said. “He has a wealth of experience as a head coach, so we are very excited to have him.”

Withee, who had previously coached Foxcroft Academy to three Class C state championships, resigned after one season at Oxford Hills. He said the photo was intended for a friend but was inadvertently posted publicly. Withee said he took the photo down as soon as he caught the mistake, but a parent discovered the photo and complained to school officials. Withee resigned on Feb. 13.

The incident was a major blow for a program that hasn’t had a winning season or reached the playoffs since 2005.

To get Oxford Hills back to perennial contender status, Soehren said, it must first rebuild the trust of the community, as well as students and parents. He has already met with the players and plans to meet with parents in the near future to begin that process.

“It’s a lot of trust building,” he said. “We had a meeting with the athletes and we talked about that. Building trust with the kids and the parents is of paramount importance.”


“Oxford Hills is a great place for football. It’s a great administration. It’s got great facilities. The staff is a great football staff and a great group of coaches,” he added. “And the community support is wonderful.”

Four of the injury-plagued Vikings’ losses last season were by 14 points or less. They graduated 18 seniors from that squad, but this year’s senior class is nearly as deep and gained valuable varsity experience last year due to the rash of injuries.

Philosophically, Soehren plans to change little except to implement the “flexbone” offense he ran at Poland. He also plans to retain the bulk of the coaching staff.

“These seniors have had three different head coaches now, so I think it would be nice to have the staff intact. And with me having been on the staff, there is some continuity,” he said.

Since 2006, the Vikings are 6-43 in the Pine Tree Conference, with two winless seasons, in 2006 and 2008, and one-win campaigns each of the last three years.

“(The PTC) is a tough conference,” Soehren said. “You go from five-wide at Cony to the double-wing at Skowhegan. The  kids are tough and they play tough. The biggest thing going from Class B to Class A is, you always have athletes in both classes, you just have more of those athletes in Class A. It’s finding those roles for those kids where they can really excel and then having a few more resources available as far as coaching staffs go.”

Soehren lives in Otisfield with his wife, Kate, and their three children, sons Atticus, 9, and Elias, 7 and daughter McKinley, 5.

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