When it comes to football, Dirigo and Mountain Valley high schools share a lot in common besides the same school union.

Both are proud and passionate about their football tradition. And both are looking for new head coaches to lead that tradition.

An ad hoc committee is scheduled to interview two candidates for the Dirigo job Thursday. Meanwhile, Mountain Valley has begun contacting at least a half-dozen candidates seeking to succeed long-time head coach Jim Aylward.

Dirigo athletic director Mike Hutchins said Dave Crutchfield, the Cougars’ coach the last three years, could still return to the sideline next fall. But district policy requires coaching positions not held by district employees to be re-opened each year.

Hutchins said he conducted an evaluation of the football program last season, during which the Cougars went 8-3 and reached the regional final for the second year in a row.

After the season, he sat down with Crutchfield to discuss his job and expressed concerns about whether Crutchfield, who works as a millwright supervisor at the NewPage paper plant in Rumford, could commit enough time to the team and help it improve.

“It’s a situation where both Dave and I agreed if we can find someone that has a schedule more conducive to being head football coach, he would be agreeable to resigning,” said Hutchins, who said he has also sought input from the team’s assistant coaches.

The job was posted again this winter and Hutchins received interest from two qualified candidates; one from within RSU 10 and one from outside the district.

Crutchfield, who took over for Doug Gilbert in 2011, has compiled a 20-11 record, leading the Cougars to the playoffs each year. They reached the Western C quarterfinals in 2011, the Western C final in 2012 and the Western D final in 2013.

Crutchfield said he would like to return for a fourth year, but feels the players may benefit from a coach with a different style and more time to devote to the program.

“I’ve always been about the kids,” Crutchfield said. “We’ve gone to the Western Maine championship twice now, and I often wonder if we had a good x’s-and-o’s coach what we would have done. I’m more of a help boys grow into young men coach.”

“I love the game of football. I love learning through it with the kids,” he added. “I kind of inherited the head coaching position and have done the best that I could. But I can’t give it the time I’d like to give it because of my job and my family and the hobbies I have away from football. I’d love to stay with the program, but I also want what’s best for those kids. It’s a great group of kids that put 100 percent into it and they deserve the best.”

Crutchfield said he does not have an interview scheduled with the selection committee, but thinks the post-season evaluation was thorough and fair.

“We agreed on my shortfalls and my strong points 100 percent,” he said. “He knows who I am and what I’m doing.”

At Mountain Valley, athletic director Al Cayer said he closed the application period last Friday and has begun contacting candidates to schedule interviews, while also forming a selection committee to meet with the candidates.

Cayer said the school plans to take its time finding a replacement for Aylward, the only varsity football coach in the school’s 25-year history who resigned last month to become head coach at Mt. Blue.

“It’s a big job,” he said. “Mountain Valley football is what drives this community. We want to make sure we’re careful and find the right candidate.”

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