Poland coach Spencer Emerson calls a play during October’s game against Gray-New Gloucester. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo by Russ Dillingham)

Spencer Emerson isn’t leaving Poland for “Last Chance U” after all.

Emerson announced on Tuesday that he would be returning as varsity football coach.

Emerson had announced in December that he was stepping down at Poland after one year there to become an assistant coach at Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas. The school’s football team was featured on Season 3 of the Netflix show “Last Chance U”.

“It didn’t work out for several reasons, but overall it didn’t make sense for me to move across the country. The situation wasn’t exactly what I hoped it was,” Emerson said. “Luckily, it happened before I actually moved out there.”

“I’m very, very fortunate that RSU 16 and (Poland athletic director Don) King would welcome me back,” he said.


Emerson, who is a substitute teacher at Lewiston High School said he made the decision not to go to Kansas around Christmas, saying the job didn’t turn out to be what he initially accepted.

“Some things weren’t exactly what I thought they were,” he said. “I think there was some miscommunication about what exactly the job would be.”

“No ill feelings,” he added. “They’re playing at a high level and unfortunately it didn’t work out.”

Emerson declined to give further details, but in December said he was to be the running backs coach and assist in video and recruiting duties.

Independence Community College coach Jason Brown confirmed via email that a position was offered to Emerson but added Emerson backed out. He declined further comment.

“Last Chance U” featured the junior college in the documentary series’ third season and announced last year it will be returning to Independence for Season 4. The series focuses on all aspects of the football program, often centering on athletes who are seeking Division I scholarships.


Emerson said he’d been communicating with Poland athletic director Don King “for the last few weeks” about returning to Poland.

“I’m excited to be back at Poland and continuing what we started,” Emerson said. “It makes sense for me to be coaching high school football in Maine.”

The Knights finished 3-6 last season and lost to eventual state champion Wells in the Class D South quarterfinals. The win total equaled what they had the previous two seasons combined, with one of those seasons, 2016, spent in Class C.

King said bringing back Emerson made sense for the football program’s future. The school advertised the vacancy, and he had heard from other potential candidates for the job but didn’t bring anyone else to interview, saying bringing Emerson back made sense.

“Spencer did a great job this past season,” King said. “He generated a lot of enthusiasm in our community, not just Spencer but his entire staff, and I think our kids enjoyed the opportunity to become competitive.”

“I think it’s great to have him back,” he added. “There’s a lot of momentum from last season and we’re looking forward to have it continue.”


King reiterated the school’s plan to play 11-man football next season despite being listed among the schools interested in potentially playing eight-man football. Under the Maine Principals’ Association’s current proposal, Poland would play in Class C next year if it stayed with 11-man football.

Emerson agreed that 11-man football is where the program belongs.

“We’ll be playing 11-man football and I think we’ll be pretty competitive,” Emerson said.

Emerson said he plans to bring his entire coaching staff from last season back. The Knights also return all-Campbell Conference quarterback Brady Downing but will have to replace nine graduating seniors, and regain the momentum lost by Emerson’s brief absence.

“I really worry about the time we lost in the weight room this winter,” he said. “My plan was to get things rolling around Thanksgiving with our workout program. So now we’re behind the eight-ball a little bit. But I think the excitement is still there and there’s a culture there. We lost time but we’ll make up for it.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.