OAKLAND — Two years ago, when Brad Bishop joined Gary Parlin’s staff as an assistant football coach at Mt. Blue High School, Bishop told his new colleagues he would not step on anybody’s toes.
“I said ‘Well, we don’t want you, then,’ ” Parlin said. “We wanted him to step on toes. We wanted to hear what he had to say.”
Bishop was a perfect fit on Parlin’s staff at Mt. Blue, but when the opportunity came up to be a head coach again, Bishop felt he had to take it. On Wednesday night, the Messalonskee High School school board approved Bishop as its new head football coach.
“I’ve wanted to get back into head coaching,” Bishop, who will continue his job as a physical education teacher at Spruce Mountain High School, said. “It’s something I had in the back of my mind to do again.”
Bishop has a long career coaching high school football. He was head coach at Morse in Bath before moving on to Lawrence in the mid-1990s. From there, Bishop was head coach at Livermore Falls before the school consolidated with Jay to form Spruce Mountain High School two years ago.
The last two seasons, Bishop was an assistant coach at Mt. Blue, and helped coach the Cougars to the Class B state championship last season, beating Marshwood, 44-42 in the state title game.
“He fit right in with us. He’s great with kids. The kids really responded to him,” Parlin said.
Parlin said Bishop’s knowledge of the wing-T offense was critical in helping the Cougars prepare to face teams that operated in the offense. Bishop also was heavily involved in Mt. Blue’s special teams.
“He took over our punt return, and we returned more punts for a touchdown than we did in the previous 10 years combined,” Parlin said. “We’re going to miss him.”
Bishop said the Eagles will move from the double-wing offense run in recent years to a system built off the wing-T.
“We’ll spread things out and have some fun,” Bishop said.
Defensively, Bishop said he expects to run multiple fronts, to counter the many systems offenses use in the Pine Tree Conference.
Bishop takes over a team that went 6-4 in 2012 and reached the PTC A semifinals, losing to eventual conference champion Lawrence. Last season was a tumultuous season for Messalonskee. Head coach Wes Littlefield resigned in late September following an incident at practice in which he allegedly struck a player. Littlefield was summoned on a misdemeanor charge of assault, but acting Kennebec Country district attorney Alan Kelley dropped the charge, citing a lack of evidence.
With Maine high school football expanding to four classes next season, Messalonskee will play in Class B, along with many of its old rivals from the PTC, including Lawrence, Mt. Blue, Cony and Skowhegan.
“I’ll be familiar with Mt. Blue, and we played Gardiner, Hampden and Brewer,” Bishop said. “Our crossover game is Marshwood, and they’re no slouch.”
Bishop said he’ll meet with his players before the end of the school year, but not until spring teams have completed their seasons.
“I don’t want to get in the way of spring sports,” he said.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242