Jim Hersom directs the Dirigo football team during a preseason practice in Dixfield in August 2015. Hersom has stepped down as Dirigo’s head coach. Sun Journal file photo Buy this Photo

Not only is Dirigo seeking a switch to eight-man football next season, the school also will be looking for a new coach after Jim Hersom stepped down following the 2019 season.

In five varsity seasons at Dirigo, Hersom went 30-17. Four of those seasons the Cougars played in Class D South, reaching the regional semifinals in 2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2018, they played their only season in Class E and reached the state championship game, losing to Freeport 28-13.

Dirigo canceled its 2019 season after one game after injuries in the season-opening loss depleted the Cougars already meager roster size to an unsafe level.

Hersom said he’d had thoughts about 2019 being his final year because of the long commute from Auburn’s Edward Little High School, where he is a physical education teacher, to Dixfield’s Dirigo High School. The season was frustrating and difficult, with anywhere between 13 and 18 players participating over the course of the six-game JV season.

“I really liked working with the kids that I had that stayed with it,” Hersom said. “Not everybody stayed with it, which was real disappointing.”

Hersom was hired to lead Dirigo in the spring of 2014. It is the latest stop in a coaching career that has spanned decades. He previously was the head coach at Edward Little, which he quarterbacked to back-to-back state championships as a quarterback in 1976 and 1977 and coached to the Class A title game in 2002, as well as Livermore Falls, Gray-New Gloucester, Mt. Ararat at Brunswick.


Hersom said he hadn’t made up his mind on whether to return next season until he met with Dirigo athletic director Jess McGreevy after the season.

“I think what it boiled down to was, I’m an old-school coach and I really believe in discipline and I really believe in accountability, and I just think there was a difference of philosophy with Jess and I,” Hersom said.

“I don’t think the parents were really on board with that as well,” he added. “I know when I first went up there we had some good teams and I thought the kids were really on board. I thought the parents were really on board. But this year it just didn’t seem like it jived.”

Hersom notified McGreevy of his resignation via letter in November.

“We really appreciate all of coach Hersom’s years of service,” McGreevy said. “I can’t speak for all of his reasoning, and … there wasn’t a reason given in the resignation letter. He’s a great guy and we appreciate all of his year’s of service.”

McGreevy plans to begin advertising the coaching vacancy in January, and hopes to name a replacement once the school board gets through budget season.

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