Poland football coach Spencer Emerson barks out commands between plays during a football game this fall. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo)

Spencer Emerson is leaving his post as Poland Regional High School’s football coach after only one season.

The Edward Little High School graduate also is leaving Maine to take a job as the running backs coach and video coordinator at Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas.

Independence CC was featured on Season 3 of the Netflix show “Last Chance U.”

“A friend of mine that coaches at Bates told me jokingly, ‘Hey you know we saw on footballscoop.com that the school from Last Chance U is hiring.’ I saw open slots and thought it would be interesting, so I emailed my resume.

Head coach Jason Brown liked what he saw immediately from Emerson and offered him the job just four days after an interview conducted over video chat.

“He’s a competitive dude from Compton, California,” Emerson said. “He’s built that way. He played at a high level and he gets how to recruit the young kids, especially young people of color and from unfortunate home circumstances. I kind of relate to him in a way — I’m a really competitive guy.”

At Independence, Emerson, 25, will be in charge of the running backs and also the video the team uses on a daily basis.

“I’ll be working with the backs, tight ends, fullbacks, tailbacks, I’ll be working with the backfield, helping game plan, coaching up the backfield,” Emerson said. “I’ll also be working with game film, making sure the film is cut up and labeled correctly and making sure that it’s organized.”

Emerson will also assist in recruiting players to Independence, a junior college that helps give players another chance at a degree and potentially a scholarship to a bigger school.

“I’ll also be recruiting, going to various high schools, prep schools, camps, clinics, and I think I’m going to use my connections in the Northeast region of the U.S. to get kids an opportunity that for whatever reason didn’t get one, whether it was circumstances or their fault ,and really give them a chance and go there and try to give them a chance to get a good offer,” Emerson said. “I think there are kids in Maine over the years that didn’t have a place or were non-qualifiers. I think about kids that I played with, that if they had a chance to go to a junior college and get right academically and get that level of exposure that would probably have different situations pan out for them. For me it’s about getting kids exposure.”

Emerson handed in his resignation to Poland on Sunday before announcing his move Monday afternoon. While Emerson will miss the school, he says opportunities like these can’t be turned down.

“The excitement level was high, the players were passionate,” Emerson said. “To be honest, there are a lot of high school football jobs open in Maine right now but I wasn’t leaving Poland for anything other than this type of opportunity. I’m really excited about this opportunity and whoever gets the job there I think is walking into a really smooth situation.”

Poland went 3-5 in 2018 and set school records in passing yards and total offense, according to Emerson. He acknowledged that he wanted to build a foundation at the Class D South school, and would have if not for an offer from Independence.

“My intent was to go there and build something for years and eventually bring a gold ball there, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way,” Emerson said. “But I am thankful for the opportunity from (Poland athletic director Don) King, and I am thankful they were supportive of me in the move, and it was a really smooth transition.”

Poland athletic director Donald King said he is grateful for Emerson’s one year as the Knights’ coach. 

“Coach Emerson is ahead of his time,” King said. “His ability to bring our kids together to trust not only their coaching staff but also their teammates is incredible. Spencer continuously focused on what our kids can do and never mentioned what they can’t do. His positive leadership, although only for one season at Poland, will have a lasting impact on these young men.”

Emerson attended the University of Maine at Orono and was a student assistant there. He then went on to coach a season at Bates College and then a season at Lewiston High School in 2017 before taking the head football gig at Poland in April of this year.

Because of his Maine roots, especially in Orono, Emerson talked to some people and was assured that the move he’s about to make was the right one.

“I talked to my family and my older brother, Jared (Turcotte, a former Lewiston High School and University of Maine standout),” Emerson said. “He’s a big believer in me following my dreams. I texted (Maine football head coach) Joe Harasymiak and I told him congrats on the playoff win, and he said, ‘Congrats, that’s awesome.’ Honestly, I hope to coach for him in the future. He was there when I got my feet weet as a student assistant up in Maine and he is one of the best coaches in the country. I am lucky enough to have that network.”

Emerson will begin work in Kansas in January. Even with the quick turnaround, Emerson is ready to get started.

“You’re always on, it’s 24/7,” Emerson said. “There will be days that I am driving to a school and there will be days where I am cutting up video all day and days that I am doing dorm checks, and I’ll be living on campus ready to roll.”

Poland football coach Spencer Emerson on the sidelines between plays during a football game this past fall. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo)