Shire football in rebuilding mode

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton football team opens its regular season on the road Friday night as the Shires travel to Bucksport to take on the Golden Bucks.

Last year, the Shires finished 3-5, but still qualified for the postseason. No. 6 Houlton fell to No. 2 Mattanawcook Academy 60-28. The Shires would like to reach the playoffs again this year, but face an uphill climb.

“We have a very young team this year after losing 10 players to graduation and with a small senior class,” veteran coach Brian Reynolds said.

Members of this year’s squad include returning seniors Wade Fuller (tackle/defensive end), Dakota Keizer (guard/defensive tackle) and Tristin Phillips (wide receiver/cornerback); juniors Noah Reynolds (quarterback/cornerback), Will Belyea (wide receiver/safety), Jaron Brewer (tackle/defensive tackle), Darrien Henderson (wide receiver/outside linebacker), Brandon Tully (guard/defensive tackle), Miguel Jimenez Jr. (running back/cornerback) and Ethan Grant (fullback/outside linebacker).

The Shires will also feature a number of underclassmen in sophomores Jackson Morris (tackle/defensive end), Josh Montieth (center/defensive tackle), Thomas Wilcox (wide receiver/cornerback), Justin Cook (running back/cornerback), Zack Currier (running back/safety), Zack Conley (quarterback/safety),  Alex Carmichael (defensive end) and CJ Violette (defensive tackle); and freshmen Kurtis Reynolds (guard/middle linebacker), Caleb Solomon (wide receiver/defensive end), Chris Caswell (running back/safety) and Nolan Hodgkins (tackle/defensive tackle).

“These young players will be called upon to play big roles to ensure team success,” coach Reynolds said. “We have set a team goal of a winning season and hosting a home playoff game.

The Shires will be tested right out of the gates opening up with conference favorites Bucksport and Foxcroft Academy in their first two games.

“That should give us an opportunity to build towards a playoff run the rest of the season,” the coach said. “It’s important that we stay healthy so we can work on improving each week. We will have 30 plus players returning for next year so the future looks bright.”

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