JAY — The Spruce Mountain High School football team’s season came to an abrupt and unexpected end Oct. 16 with players not informed beforehand.

Several parents expressed dismay and disappointment on Facebook, with one post shared with the Livermore Falls Advertiser. Inquiries from the newspaper discovered the news broke after a Facebook post was shared on the Maine High School Football Facebook page. The post noted MDI had finished third in Crabtree points and was to have played sixth seeded Spruce Mountain but because Spruce declined the invitation MDI would have a bye week.

Later that day Mike Nichols, coach of the middle school Area Youth Sports football team invited high school team members to assist at middle school practices.

On Oct. 17, an article in the Sun Journal shared the decisions of Telstar and St. John Valley [Madawaska/Fort Kent/Wisdom] opting to not take part in the Small School 8-man division football playoffs. The article noted that Spruce Mountain would not be participating in the Large School division playoffs.

Marc Keller, athletic director for SMHS provided further information later in the week. The decision not to play MDI was a joint decision made by the coaching staff, the athletic trainer, the principal and himself, he noted.

“I was in contact with the Maine Principals’ Association about this decision and was told that a decision would need to be made by Monday morning,” Keller indicated. “This decision was solely based on the safety of our student-athletes. Our program has had numbers in the high 20s during the year and dipped to a low of 15 in uniform for the game at Camden Hills.


“We had to put student-athletes in positions that they were not trained in and had not played all year long when three other injuries brought us to 12 healthy players. This is an unsafe situation for those players and for the others that they need to help protect. We felt that because of this it was not safe for us to continue this season.”

Keller said the decision was made Sunday, with an email sent to the Maine Principals’ Association [MPA] and Superintendent Scott Albert notified.

“We live in a world of social media and need to know now,” Keller noted. “Sometimes that can be detrimental. The coaches and I had planned to meet with the players at the start of practice on Monday afternoon so that we could inform them and discuss the decision.

The MPA football committee met on Monday morning and unfortunately word got out by noon here at the high school. We still met with the team on Monday to explain this decision.”

Keller regrets that he and the coaches were not able to meet with the team before the news was made public.

“I do not regret the decision,” he noted. “In our hearts and minds, this was the right decision to make. The health and safety of the Spruce Mountain student-athletes must be our top priority.”

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