WALES — A half hour before the dedication ceremony began, Geoff Wright was working on the memorial garden to the left of the entrance to the bleachers at the Oak Hill High School football field. Wright racked, making sure the mulch packed around the flowers and monument to former coach Stacen Doucette was just right.

Last Dec. 9, Doucette died unexpectedly. He was 45. Saturday morning, the field where Doucette coached Oak Hill to so much success in his eight years at the school was dedicated in his name. From now on, the Raiders will play on Stacen Doucette Memorial Field.

“We were obviously all close, as a coaching staff, with Stacen. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t have a moment where I think back to Coach and either the times we had as friends or the times we had as coaches and being on the field with him. For the past almost year now, every time we look out in this direction Stacen comes to mind,” Wright, who succeeded his friend as Oak Hill’s head coach, said. “It will be a little more affirmation that he’s the right person to have this field dedicated too. He’d be appreciative of this, but he wouldn’t have wanted this kind of attention brought on him.”

Wright looked over his right shoulder at the scoreboard, where the sign he and the rest of the Raiders football coaches unveiled minutes earlier will be mounted. Stacen Doucette Memorial Field. White letters with a black shadow on a red background. Oak Hill’s colors are red, white, and blue. The football jerseys have traditionally emphasized the blue and white. Dcouette and athletic director Jim Palmer would argue about getting new jerseys. Doucette asked for red, perhaps as a nod to his hometown Lisbon’s red and black, where he starred as a three sport athlete and began his coaching career. A Gardiner native, Palmer couldn’t go for red, the color of his longtime rival Cony. The blue was a neutral compromise.

As the master of ceremonies of the dedication ceremony, Palmer mentioned all Doucette’s on-field accomplishments. Back-to-back-to-back state championships in 2013, 2014 and 2015. A record of 58-25, including a 16-5 postseason mark. Doucette won his first game as Oak Hill’s coach on this field, 33-7 over Yarmouth, and he won his last game here too, 41-8 over Madison in the playoffs last fall. In Doucette’s eight seasons as head coach, the Raiders never missed the playoffs.

It’s easy to go sum up a person with a list of their accomplishments, Palmer said. Trophies and wins are tangible. Doucette’s value to the Oak Hill community cannot be measured just in gold balls and victories. Doucette was a master at reading people, Palmer said. Football success was the byproduct of developing good people.

“I watched him make all the coaches here at Oak Hill better,” Palmer said.

Palmer shared a conversation he had with Doucette’s father, Mike, shortly after Stacen was hired.

“You know he’s going to put a lot of trophies in that case, don’t you?” Palmer recalled Mike Doucette saying.

Mike Doucette watched and listened to the entire thing, still mourning his son while at the same time thankful to know all the lives Stacen touched through football.

“This is unreal,” Mike Doucette said. “He did a lot for the kids. I never realized it. I don’t understand. There was no reason for him to die. Everybody loved him.

“The kids here loved him. The kids at Lisbon loved him. Everybody loved him.”

A bag for brownie flavor M&Ms and a bottle of Mountain Dew lean against a granite marker during the dedication of the Stacen Doucette Memorial Field on Saturday at Oak Hill High School in Wales. The two items were some of the late football coach’s favorites. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Doucette’s memorial service in December was held in a packed Oak Hill gymnasium. The receiving line snaked through the school’s hallways. Only 100 close family and friends could attend Saturday’s dedication, a consolation to the Covid-19 pandemic, and that’s another gut punch from 2020 in a series of gut punches that really began in 2019 with Doucette’s death. One hundred people is just a small percentage of the lives Doucette touched.

The stone monument next to the bleachers includes an imagine of Doucette on the sideline. His right arm is raised, his hand curled in a victory fist. He’s cheering on his team, and you know whoever was on the other end of the headset Doucette wears is getting an earful. At the bottom is a quote Doucette said often.

“How about them Raiders!”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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