Buckfield athletic director Dave Kilborn spent long hours with coaches and administrators discussing the move from the Mountain Valley Conference back to the East/West Conference in the fall.

“All were supportive,” Kilborn said. “These conversations became more intense after our boys soccer team missed out on the playoffs last season. Within the MVC, they played a season against teams that were in Classes B and C, (and) no games against teams that we were competing for a playoff spot against.

“The ability to be competitive against common opponents on a nightly basis allowed us to come up with the proposal to move out of the MVC. We were currently the only predominately Class D school in the MVC. We, like a lot of other programs, have our good years and down years. Our goal is to place any of our teams in a situation where they can be competitive.”

Buckfield’s Brayden Jack, left, heads the ball as Spruce Mountain/Dirigo’s Casey Gould bears down on him during their soccer game in Buckfield on Sept. 27, 2022. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Kilborn said there was talk about the Bucks becoming a free agent school, so to speak, but after discussing it with several Class D athletic directors, Buckfield settled on an old home — the East/West Conference.

“This is a league that we were part of prior to moving into the MVC (in 2021),” Kilborn explained. “It also helps us as the only program that, within the new classifications (and) are not in Class D, is our girls basketball program. They will play a similar schedule as our boys program but be C in the playoffs. There is not a D classification in track as we will stay C and remain a member of the MVC just in track and field.”

Kilborn and the Bucks face new challenges, but he said coming aboard the East/West Conference is a positive move.


“I believe this is a great move and something that will allow us to be consistent for years to come,” he said. “We will have to be creative in the sports that have found success. Our girls soccer and softball programs both made the playoffs last year and will hopefully be just as successful this coming season.”

Thanks to the backing from coaches and administrators, Kilborn looks forward to the fall.

Meanwhile, Rangeley athletic director Jeff LaRochelle’s job just got a bit easier with the return of the Bucks. Fellow former MVC members Carrabec and Wiscasset are also moving to the East/West.

“We’ve had good games with them in the past,” LaRochelle said. “They are easy games for us because of the travel. Those games were well-attended by fans. So I think it is a great move for us and the conference, and hopefully it will be for them, too.”

LaRochelle said it has become more difficult scheduling games in certain sports.

“It just got a lot easier in the East/West Conference now with more schools being in it, that now we are not always calling the C schools to try to fill out your schedule in,” he said. “The more (teams) that we have in our conference you can do it within your own conference, and then maybe you’ve only got to find only one or two games outside the conference to fill your schedule.”



Buckfield coaches are glad about the move, but have some concerns about the return to the East/West.

“I think there is good and bad parts about it,” Buckfield boys soccer coach Kyle Rines said. “I think competitively it makes more sense for our small school Buckfield — as far as the regular season goes — especially with new classifications out in basketball. As far as travel and trying to prepare for a D playoff run, probably not.

“But like I said, pros and cons. I will definitely miss the camaraderie, closeness of Mountain Valley (Conference) schools. Hopefully, I would like to see in the future being able to play a mix. I think that would benefit a lot of schools to play up and play down.”

Girls soccer coach Larry Thornton said he sees the benefits of why Bucks are back in the East/West.

Kaitlyn Frost, left, of Monmouth/Winthrop and Chloee Bennett of Buckfield compete for the ball on Sept. 19, 2022, in Monmouth. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“I think it was just so we could get that competition with the schools that we play against,” Thornton said. “I like being able to play against the Richmonds and the St. Dom’s, and I see Old Orchard Beach is on our schedule, and also mixing it in with schools from the MVC. … I personally like (the move) just because of the competition that we are going to get. I’ve seen our tentative schedule and it is going to be competitive, that’s for sure.”


The return to the East/West Conference also sits well with Buckfield boys basketball coach Jon Cadman.

“After playing in Class C, that was loaded with talent, it was clear we shouldn’t have been in that class,” Cadman said. “Going back to (a Class D schedule) will allow us to compete.”

Ethan Vattaso of Oak Hill High School tries to knock the ball from Buckfield’s Ayden Jefferson during a Feb. 6 game in Buckfield. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Cadman said there are a couple of reasons why the Bucks’ new digs in the East/West will work for the boys basketball program.

“One (reason) being that we are playing programs that might not have the larger number of players coming out each year like us,” he said. “Another benefit is we just get to compete at a level that doesn’t discourage our kids. Am I saying we will find success right away? Absolutely not. We are still going to have to work really hard. But (after) talking with a few people in the community, they are excited about this move and believe this is where we belong.”

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