ORONO – The Orono football community met Thursday night about the likely event of transitioning the program to eight-man football, and those at the meeting say they’re welcoming the change.
“Orono High School has a very rich tradition of football and I think everybody here understands that and they want to make the best decision to put Orono football in the best position for years to come,” said long-time Orono football head coach Bob Sinclair.
Eight man football is set to change the landscape of Maine high school football landscape once again in the 2020 season, as the number of teams electing to play eight-man football is reportedly set to nearly triple. Orono will likely be one of those teams, judging by community response at an informational meeting on Thursday.
“Change is hard for people, and rightfully so, but we really think this is the best move for Orono,” said Orono High School athletic director Mike Archer.
The change come partly out of necessity, according to Archer. Seven members of the nine members of the Little Ten Conference, of which Orono is a founding member, are set to play eight-man football; leaving just Foxcroft and Bucksport as the remaining 11-man football members. “We’re hoping in some way, shape, or form that we can just move the Little Ten Conference to eight-man, but that’s something we’re going to have to discuss as a conference,” said Archer.
Thursday’s meeting largely provided optimism for the arrival of eight man in Orono. Sinclair advocated for the transition, as it allows for the revival of a junior varsity program for the first time in six years. “They’re fourteen, they’re playing against someone that’s eighteen, that’s a big difference, so to have the opportunity to play JV football for our kids, and to grow our program is really important.”
Players, like rising senior Henry Robertson, present at the meeting said the change is for the best, “it’s a great chance for us to compete, obviously for the last three years we’ve struggled as a program, it’s good for us, we need it.”
No decision was made at Thursday’s meeting, but all schools seeking to transition to eight-man football have a deadline of February 28 to announce their intentions for next season.