Nothing about this time of year — the scrimmages, the final practices, the varsity and JV decisions — is new to Monmouth boys basketball coach Wade Morrill.

It’s just where he’s making the final tweaks before the season begins that’s the unfamiliar part. Morrill is in his first season as the Mustangs’ coach, adding the position to his role as the school’s athletic director and physical education teacher.

Morrill’s one of a group of coaches in the area taking over head jobs this season, joining Richmond’s Phil Houdlette, who’s back after a prior stint with the Bobcats, and Valley’s Curtis Miller, Mt. Abram’s Richard Hawkes and Mt. Blue’s Brian Kelly.

“I was eager to work with our boys,” Morrill said. “When the boys varsity basketball position opened up, I talked to our principal and it was just something (where) we felt that I was probably the most suited candidate.”

Morrill is hardly a sideline rookie. A player for Valley during its illustrious title run who won championships in 1998 and ’99, he took over the Cavaliers in 2007 and coached them through 2013, then guided Waterville to the playoffs in 2014 in his only season with the Panthers.

Now he’ll look to use his pressure-oriented scheme to guide the Mustangs to loftier heights than last year’s Class C South preliminary appearance.

“I’m an attacking coach. … I like to play really intense full-court defense, try to utilize 94 feet instead of yielding 45 feet of the floor,” he said. “But at the same time, good teams adjust to the tempo of the game and can set the tempo of the game, so ideally we’ll be able to transition well but also be able to play in the half court and be fundamentally sound.”

Hawkes and Kelly are tasked with turning around 3-15 teams, but Miller will face the opposite challenge: keeping things going for a Valley squad that went 21-0 last year under Luke Hartwell and captured the Class D state title.

“I was the guy saying, ‘I’d hate to take Coach Hartwell’s spot,’ ” said Miller, himself a Valley alum who played for the Cavaliers before graduating in 2008. “And now I’m that guy. There’s definitely some pressure.”

It’s Miller’s first head coaching gig, but he knows the team he has will make the learning process easier.

“We have 10 returners, so we definitely have some guys that have been there,” he said. “They’re all playing well. It’s definitely looking like they’ll step up, and we’ll hopefully make another run at it.”

Houdlette’s back for a second stint at Richmond after taking over for Jon Spear, who replaced him four years ago.

“It’s not like I haven’t been here. I had all these kids in JV,” he said. “These days, it’s a different animal, to get the kids to buy into the commitment of everything. I think I’ve got some good kids, and I think they will buy in.”

• • •

There are a number of new head coaches for area high school hockey teams this winter, but none quite fit the same mold as new New Lawrence/Skowhegan coach Dakota Gendreau.

Gendreau joins the Bandits as a first-time bench boss, having graduated from Thomas College in May.

A 6-3 goaltender himself, the 22-year-old Gendreau played for former University of Maine defenseman Troy Barnes and current Thomas coach Jeff Ross after playing his high school hockey for Dennis Martin at Waterville. He said all three coaches offered something different in terms of style, which he hopes have helped blend him into a well-rounded coach.

“It’s definitely a big mix,” Gendreau said. “Coach Martin was all about consistency, teamwork, hard work. And (Barnes) was about physicality, puck movement and speed. (Ross) was a little bit more skill and some other things.”

At Messalonskee, Kevin Castner takes over the Eagles after serving for two years as an assistant coach to Joe Hague. Hague stepped down last spring in order to spend more time with his family.

Dave Leach, who has spent more than 30 years coaching high school sports in some capacity, is the new Winslow coach. He was Andy Dube’s assistant in recent seasons.

• • •

The Winthrop boys basketball team will be without guard Nate Scott until Christmas or a little later — though not for a lack of toughness.

Scott, a tough perimeter defender and the Ramblers’ sixth man, is recovering from a broken leg suffered during the Winthrop/Monmouth football team’s Class D South final loss to Lisbon. Unaware of the extent of the injury, Scott finished the game on the hurt leg, even scoring a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute on a fourth-down catch-and-run play.

“We were talking about that (earlier),” basketball coach Todd MacArthur said. “I was like ‘That is so crazy. I wish it would have been the other way in terms of the win so you could tell your grandkids.’ But it’s still pretty cool to say he played the whole second half and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a broken leg.”

• • •

Lawrence High School will host the annual Bulldog Classic boys basketball preseason tournament on Saturday at Folsom Gym. The tournament features seven teams from Maine, as well as an entrant from Amesbury, Massachusetts.

Teams representing Classes A, B, and C will take part in the all-day tournament, including host Lawrence, Maine Central Institute, Mt. Blue, Brunswick, Skowhegan, Gardiner, and Winthrop.

• • •

Gardiner will host a 19-team girls basketball round robin on Saturday. Messalonskee will play South Portland at 9 a.m. to start the varsity matchups, followed by South Portland vs. Brunswick (10:20), Medomak vs. Richmond (11:40), Monmouth vs. Brunswick (1 p.m.), Medomak vs. Maranacook (2:20), Mt. Blue vs. Foxcroft (3:40), Gardiner vs. Bonny Eagle (5), Maranacook vs. Oak Hill (6:20) and Gardiner vs. Sanford (7:40). Middle school games will begin with Monmouth vs. Oceanside (9 a.m.) and continue with Winslow vs. Central (10:20), Oceanside vs. Mt. Blue (11:40), Central vs. Messalonskee (1 p.m.), Winslow vs. Richmond (2:20), Oak Hill vs. Erskine (3:40), Yarmouth vs. Sanford (5), Foxcroft vs. Erskine (6:20) and Yarmouth vs. Bonny Eagle (7:40).

• • •

This week, Winslow native Paul Roy was named the Washington Charitable Foundation High School Football Coach of the Year. Roy is head coach at Quantico High School.

A retired Lt. Col. with the United States Marines, Roy has coached football, basketball, and baseball at Quantico for 17 years. This season, he led the Warriors to the Virginia Division 3 state final, where they lost to Roanoke Catholic, 38-21. Quantico finished the season with an 11-1 record, and finished the regular season undefeated for the first time in school history.

(Staff writers Travis Barrett, Drew Bonifant and Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this report)

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