Blair Doucette is the new head football coach at Messalonskee High School. Photo provided by Blair Doucette

OAKLAND — Blair Doucette knows everyone who’s come through the Messalonskee Youth Football Association. After all, there’s no level of it he hasn’t coached.

From first grade through the end of high school, the Sidney native has coached every echelon in the sport in the Belgrade Lakes area. Now, he’s finally the man leading from the top down as head coach of the Messalonskee varsity team.

“I’m just so humbled to be able to be the football coach at the place where I was an alumni,” said Doucette, a 1996 Messalonskee graduate. “The program and the school mean the world to me. I was a player and a captain here, and I’m going to take great pride in building it.”

Doucette replaces Walter Polky as head coach at Messalonskee. Polky was dismissed after four games last year for unspecified reasons. Athletic Director Chad Foye, who called Polky’s departure a “personnel decision,” led the team for the remainder of the 2022 season.

Doucette was an assistant coach for Messalonskee last season. It was his third stint as an assistant for the Eagles after tenures from 2001-02 under John Hersom (now head coach at Lawrence) and 2012-18 under Wes Littlefield (2012; now head coach at Winslow) and Brad Bishop (2013-18; now head coach at Mattanawcook Academy).

After graduating from Messalonskee, Doucette went on to play Division I-AA football at Indiana State and then Division II ball at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. At UMass-Lowell, he was a dynamic player on offense, starting games at quarterback, running back and wide receiver.


“I got to do a lot and have a variety of different experiences there,” Doucette said of his time at UMass-Lowell, where he played from 1997-2000. “I think that’s actually one of the things that’s helped me with coaching, just being able to do all of those aspects at a high level.”

In 2008, Doucette was named president of Messalonskee Youth Football, a role he held through 2021. That brought him even more in touch with the sport in his old community, introducing him to the players, coaches and parents who would help build the Messalonskee program.

Messalonskee, which hasn’t had a winning season since 2014, has spent most of that time in the bottom tier of the Pine Tree Conference. Yet the Eagles have shown improvement over the past two years after winless seasons in 2018 and 2019, and with the coaching drama of last year in the past, Doucette thinks his group could turn some heads.

“I believe in ‘Crawl before you walk, walk before you run, run before you sprint,’ so we’ll start with the basics of everything and keep building the program,” Doucette said. “We have a talented senior class with a lot of leadership, and they’re committed to turning this program around.”

Messalonskee isn’t the only program in the central Maine and Midcoast areas that will have a new head coach roaming the sidelines in the fall. Now leading Brunswick is Mark Renna, former head coach at Gray-New Gloucester from 2014-16 and the defensive coordinator at Yarmouth the past two seasons.

Mark Renna is the next Brunswick High School football coach. Photo provided by Mark Renna

Although Brunswick won a state title as recently as 2016 and a regional crown as recently as 2019, the program has struggled to recover from a hazing scandal that cut the 2021 season short and led to the ousting of head coach Dan Cooper. The Dragons were 0-8 and were outscored by nearly 45 points per game in their return last year.


Now, with a roster that looks to be in the high-20s this fall, Brunswick has made the move to the eight-man ranks for the 2023 season. Renna is plenty experienced with the eight-man game, having led a Yarmouth defense that gave up a hair under 20 points per game in 2022 — not too shabby in a format known for high scoring.

“It definitely helps having that experience,” Renna said. “That was a great run, going on to win the (state) championship. I’ve said it before: I feel great coaching eight-man football or 11-man football. It’s still about putting kids in the right places to succeed and then letting them go.”

Brunswick was coached last year by Brandon Dorsett, a 2005 Portland High School graduate who had previously been the head coach at Westbrook from 2019-21. Dorsett resigned from the position following the season, and Renna was announced March 9 as his replacement.

The tradition at Brunswick, which boasts three state and seven regional championships to its name, was one thing that drew Renna to the position. Rebuilding a program from the ground up is never an easy matter, but it all starts, he said, with having some at the top who can get things moving.

“It’s kind of like a fire; you’ve just got to stoke it a little bit, and it comes right back,” Renna said. “I know it’s the right place for me. I mean, coaching Brunswick football, that’s such a huge honor. I’m excited to be in this community and lead this program.”

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