WALES — Great players are a coach’s best friends.

In Kyle Flaherty and Alex Mace, third-year Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette had two of the very best in Western Class D — something he certainly recognized.

On offense, Doucette leaned on the duo heavily in the postseason. In four games, the Raiders ran 237 offensive plays — excluding PATs — and put the ball in Mace or Flaherty’s hands 83 percent of the time.

When you have two players that are that talented though, deciding to call plays for them is not the hard part. Getting the rest of the team to buy into that can be more challenging.

Doucette unquestionably did just that this year in helping guide the Raiders to their second straight Class D championship, and in turn has been named the 2014 Kennebec Journal Football Coach of the Year. Cony coach Robby Vachon was also considered for the honor.

“(Doucette) is the best coach I’ve ever had in my life,” Oak Hill quarterback Dalton Therrien said. “I’ve played a lot of sports but I’ve never seen a guy so determined to win and so determined to bring us young men and make them into men.”

Added Flaherty: “He puts us in game situations and he’s an awesome coach. He’s done a lot for us. We can’t thank him enough.”

Getting kids to buy into the system is one of — is not the — greatest challenges a head coach faces, and in talking with Oak Hill’s players this season, it was clear they trusted Doucette.

Part of that also falls on the Raiders’ two humble stars, Mace and Flaherty.

“He’s brought us together. It’s not one player, we don’t have any stars on this team, it’s more of just a big family,” Flaherty said. “We work together, we all hang out, we’re all best friends basically. We communicate in the games and we all flow to the ball.”

Of course, the Raiders were more than just Flaherty and Mace. Oak Hill had a strong supporting cast and Doucette found ways to put them in the best positions to succeed.

There was no better example of this than the team’s diminutive offensive line.

While not large in stature by any means — starting guard Mike Pease was a Campbell Conference All-Star at 5-7 and 165 pounds, for example — the Raiders more than made up for their lack of size with creative blocking schemes.

“You can’t measure someone’s heart with weight,” Doucette said.

After winning two Gold Balls in just his first three years at Oak Hill, Doucette has certainly set the bar high.

He will have a chance to raise it even higher next year as only two schools — Morse from 1970-72 and Orono from 1979-81 — have ever won three football state championships in a row, per the Maine Principal’s Association website.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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