Mariners, Windjammers to navigate through unfamiliar watersOceanside's move to Western Class B to bring new rivalries
The Midcoast fall high school sports seasons are about to begin as the majority of area teams prepare to renew rivalries with familiar foes in their respective conferences.
The same cannot be said for the Oceanside and Camden Hills varsity football teams, as the Mariners and Windjammers prepare to navigate through unfamiliar waters.
Both teams were in Eastern Class B last season, but due to the major shakeup in high school football that saw the Maine Principals' Association expand from three classes to four, both will find themselves lined up against several unfamiliar schools in the coming weeks.
The Mariners are moving to Western Class B this season and will take their talents south as the northernmost team in the conference.
Oceanside originally was assigned to Western Class B as part of the MPA's new four-class proposal, but was shifted to Eastern Class B at the last minute due to reasons varying from geographic considerations to it being a member of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, as are many Eastern Class B schools.
However, Oceanside petitioned to be replaced in Western Class B, a petition which was granted by the MPA.
Thus, Oceanside will travel to face the Marshwood Hawks of Eliot, the Fryeburg Academy Raiders, the Mount Ararat Eagles of Topsham and the Westbrook Blue Blazes, while the Mariners will host the Kennebunk Rams, the Falmouth Yachtsmen and the Gorham Rams.
The only familiar opponent for the Mariners will be Morse of Bath, which they will host Friday, Sept. 6 in Rockland in their first game of the regular season.
Greely of Cumberland and York also are part of the revamped Western Class B, though they do not face Oceanside this season.
First-year Mariner coach Wes Drinkwater said he and his team look forward to the new challenge, adding, “the only team we really know at all is Morse.”
“It's a good opportunity for us,” said Drinkwater. “I'm a new coach, we've got a lot of new players and we're going to be going to play new opponents. They don't know us and we don't know them. It's good. It's kind of like a fresh start.”
Drinkwater said other than Marshwood, Westbrook and Kennebunk, “every team we're playing is either rebuilding or still trying to build” and thus, the Mariners have an opportunity to be competitive.
“A lot of teams in that division run the same stuff,” said Drinkwater. “They run wing-t, double wing and a lot of 5-2 defense. Football is the same everywhere, especially in Maine.”
The coach said while it is hard to lose rivalry games against opponents such as Camden Hills, “I think the kids are looking forward to making some new ones.”
“I don't think it'll take long,” said the new coach.
The Windjammers, like the Mariners, originally were assigned to Eastern Class B, but petitioned down to Eastern Class C for competitive reasons.
Eastern Class B is considered by many to be a juggernaut of a conference, which will include Lawrence of Fairfield, which participated in the state Class A finals last year, and Mount Blue of Farmington, which defeated Marshwood 44-42 for the state Class B title last season.
Brunswick, Skowhegan, Messalonskee of Oakland, Cony of Augusta, Hampden Academy, Brewer and Gardiner all will compete in Eastern Class B this year.
The Windjammers, while the change of opponents is not as drastic as that of the Mariners, will face unfamiliar foes as well.
Camden Hills will host reigning state Class C state champion Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft, while the Windjammers will travel to both Madison and Hermon.
The Windjammers also will host Waterville, Winslow and Nokomis of Newport and travel to face Belfast and Old Town in regular-season games.
Winslow and Foxcroft Academy played in the state Class C championship game last season, which the Ponies won 22-20.
“I'm excited,” said 'Jammer coach Steve Wadsworth. “I think we're going to be competitive. It's basically the old Class C to me.”
As far as playing different teams, Wadsworth said it is business as usual for his squad.
“They're just excited to play football,” he said. “They're just excited to get going again. I don't think they even realize they're in a position to maybe have some success this year.”
Associate Sports Director
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Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. He has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School.
Mark is an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox, fantasy sports, the AMC drama "Breaking Bad" and iced coffee.
He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn and sons Beckett and Austin.
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