AUGUSTA, ME – AUGUST 24: Lawrence head coach John Hersom watches during scrimmage on Saturday August 24, 2019 at Alumni Field in Augusta. (Staff photo by Joe Phelan/Staff Photographer) Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

FAIRFIELD — Like many fathers, John Hersom is regularly in contact with his two sons. This week, though, was a bit different.

Hersom, head coach of the Lawrence football team, once spent many fall nights on the Keyes field sidelines with Jack and Mike Hersom, two of his three sons. But as the Bulldogs prepared to host Bangor, where Jack and Mike are assistant coaches, the family phone lines were significantly less active.

“Usually, during the football season, we’re in touch quite a bit, but the phones have been quiet this week,” said John Hersom, Lawrence’s head coach since 2005. “It’s not a situation that I like to be in. I’m definitely going to be a little nerved up for it.”

Once regular opponents, Lawrence and Bangor were set to meet for the first time in a decade Friday at Keyes Field. It’s the renewal of a rivalry that defined football in Maine’s largest class for a decade with the Hersom family being at the center of some of the most memorable games.

From 2006-12, Lawrence and Bangor owned the Class A division of the Pine Tree Conference. The Bulldogs claimed conference titles in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2012, while the Rams repeated as regional champions in 2009 and 2010. Only Skowhegan’s Class A East crown in 2008 could break up the monotony of the two rivals’ dominance.

Although the games were rarely blowouts, Lawrence usually got the best of Bangor when the two met on the field. The Bulldogs went 9-1 against the Rams over that seven-year span and were 3-0 in the matchup in Eastern Maine championship games (19-5 in 2006, 27-13 in 2007 and 40-14 in 2011).


“We were pumped up every time we got to play them,” said Jack Hersom, a 2008 Lawrence graduate and the 2007 Fitzpatrick Trophy winner. “Going into that week, both teams knew what they were getting into. Fortunately, it worked out in our favor more times than not.”

The Hersoms were at the center of the rivalry in 2006 with Mike and his twin Tom seniors at Lawrence and Jack a junior. The Bulldogs found themselves in a pair of defensive battles with the Rams that year, winning just 3-0 in the regular season prior to the aforementioned 19-5 win in the regional title game.

“Those Bangor-Lawrence games, those games were always the best,” Mike Hersom said. “Both teams really respected one another, and we would always step it up. They were some fun games to be a part of. … It really seemed like there was a lot weighing on every play.”

Lawrence quaterback Jack Hersom is brought down by Mt. Blue’s Derrick Burnham during a first half run in a 2007 game in Fairfield. Morning Sentinel file photo

Lawrence made the drop to Class B in 2013, ending what had been a longstanding annual rivalry with the Rams. The Bulldogs and Rams then met in the preseason a year later in a game that saw Jack and Mike Hersom return to Keyes Field on the opposing sideline.

Nine years later, the two brothers are still assistants for the Bangor program. Whereas the 2013 preseason matchup felt a bit bizarre for the brothers, they don’t expect that to be the case this time now that they’ve done it before and have years of coaching experience under their belts.

“It’s cool going down there, and it was a bit weird to be there with another team for the first time, but I think this one will feel like just another game,” said Jack Hersom, who joined the Bangor staff along with Mike in 2011. “It’ll still be unique, but I think we’ll be mostly focused on the game and not too much on the other stuff.”

The two teams enter the game in unusual positions compared to the days of their epic showdowns 10-15 years ago. A young Bangor team and a Lawrence squad that began the year against two of Class B North’s best in Skowhegan and Windham are still seeking their first wins of the year.

Bragging rights in the Hersom family will belong to whoever’s team gets that win. After a week of silence, it’s a good bet that the next phone call to touch base will come from the coach(es) whose team comes out on top.

“It’s been a bit different not checking in, but I’m sure we’ll do that after it’s all over with,” Mike Hersom said. “You know both teams really want it, and it’s going to comes down to whoever can go out there and execute.”

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