Chad Stowell is at a juncture in his life that he feels comfortable taking on the head coach jobs for two varsity programs at Oak Hill High School.

The baseball skipper is now overseer of the Raiders’ football team after Geoff Wright stepped down. Stowell and Wright worked together as assistant football coaches.

Oak Hill assistant football coach Chad Stowell walks the sidelines during a game. Stowell is now the Raiders’ head coach. Submitted photo

“I am excited for the challenges of doing both this summer,” Stowell, who recently finished his fifth season leading the Raiders’ baseball team, said. “It has been challenging, but the fortunate thing is I have a pretty good corps of kids who play both sports. So it has been a pretty easy transition so far this summer, taking on both roles. It is going to be a lot of work running two varsity programs.”

Stowell welcomes the challenges of being the head football coach, but then again, he is an old farm hand who has been an assistant since 2009. He is also acutely aware of the demands those coaching jobs will place upon him.

“I know the challenge of taking on this position is going to be a pretty steep one, I think to myself,” he said. “Like we said earlier, I have been coaching for a little while, but never in this role — and I think it is hard to prepare for something like this until you actually do it.

“I think the challenge of taking on the responsibility of being the guy that makes all the choices is something I am looking forward to. I am really looking forward to bouncing back — especially after the unfortunate situation that we had last year where we couldn’t play. I know (the players) are really excited to get back.”

Stowell will get a taste of leading a team in the coming days. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the format of the Lobster Bowl, Maine’s senior all-star football game, has been changed to a 7-on-7 tournament at Lewiston High School on Saturday, July 17. Stowell has been chosen to coach one of the eight participating teams.

Stowell knows COVID-19 still lingers, but he feels positive with a “normal” football schedule on tap. He also pointed out that teams could run into similar problems like spring sports did, when coronavirus outbreaks forced postponement of games or quarantines at schools.

“There is a nice little excitement — probably everywhere around the state this year during summer football — knowing that we already got a schedule, and we feel really confident about the fact that we are going to have a regular season,” he said. “Being with the guys with that excitement in the air has been fun this summer.

“I think you have to (be concerned about COVID-19), but I think you can’t control that. I mean it is something that is so far out of my reach or control. But I do think you have to have an idea that there could be at any point where we could run into some sort of situation. In baseball, we got lucky. We usually bounced back and played a game in a couple of days — if we were not the infected party. In football, you could be sitting out for two weeks without playing a game.”

Stowell said he and his players will do whatever is required to keep the football season on track if COVID-19 strikes. He agreed that, in a way, all football teams are starting from scratch this season and it appears to be a “quasi-rebuilding year” for all teams.

“We were talking about it as a staff,” he said. “We met last night for summer workout. We are going to rely on a lot of juniors that were freshmen the last time we played football. In football, as you know, you don’t typically play a lot of freshmen unless it is a necessity or you’ve got somebody really, really special.

“We looked at it, and I think we had two freshmen that contributed to the varsity team in 2019. Now we are looking at that group and (saying), ‘You guys are going to have to be the veterans.’

“The sophomores are now the seniors, and we played a lot of sophomores in 2019, and they got some leadership, but there is a lot of programs that have bigger numbers than we do that don’t do that. You play your juniors and play your seniors, but guess what, you lost both of those classes last year. So you are really starting from scratch.”

LIFE BEFORE COVID-19

Stowell got together with Wright to discuss the football program after longtime coach Stacen Doucette died suddenly in December 2019.

“When everything went down in December with Stacen passing, Geoff and I met together, and Geoff had a really good plan, kind of a vision where he thought we should take the program for that year,” Stowell said. “He asked me about it and I thought it was a really good plan.”

Stowell explained that even if there was no pandemic, he said the program was about to go through a “pretty big transition.”

“Geoff had a really, really good plan,” Stowell said. “Geoff has some really good leadership qualities. He is a really, really great guy and he is a guy that kids really look to for leadership in that school. So he had a really good vision on how he thought the program would transition after Stacen’s passing, and I was on board with that.”

Stowell said he thought about applying for the head coaching job if Wright “wasn’t willing to do what he wanted to do.” Wright applied and was hired in a few months into 2020.

“If things would had worked out differently with COVID, we would have probably still be working through that right now,” Stowell said. “But COVID has changed a lot of things throughout the state. It has changed a lot in our program.

“But I feel like I am in a good place in my life to take on that type of challenge.”


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