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June 17. 2013 12:01AM

Spaulding football promotes assistant

A new football season means new players, new hopes and new goals. At Spaulding High in Rochester, it also means a new head coach.

Jeff Hunt became Spaulding's fifth head coach in as many seasons when he was approved by the Rochester School Board on Thursday night.

Hunt, 44, was an assistant coach under Claude Gagnon at Spaulding last season. Gagnon resigned in late April because of a family commitment.

"When Claude Gagnon decided to step down he encouraged me to apply for the position at Spaulding," Hunt said. "My motivation was to keep some consistency in the program. There's been a lot of turnover, and I thought it would be best for the kids if the same things were in place on offense and defense."

Hunt played football at Leicester (Mass.) High, and was a four-year starter as a defensive lineman at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass.

He has been an assistant coach at three high schools — Leicester, Lincoln-Sudbury in Sudbury, Mass., and Brunswick, Maine — but has no prior experience as a head coach. Hunt moved to Rochester last year, when he became the senior pastor at the First United Methodist Church of Rochester.

"Overall, I was thrilled (when he became Spaulding's head coach)," Hunt said. "Having never been a head coach at this level before it's a little nerve-wracking. It's a great chance for me to take that next step in coaching."

Hunt said Spaulding athletic director Kevin Hebert will remain on staff as the team's defensive coordinator.

"In terms of the staff, some of it has yet to play out," Hunt said. "We're fortunate that the school board has seen the benefit of having Kevin around. Having him in the school helps us keep a close connection with the kids."

Spaulding finished the 2012 season 3-8 overall and 2-6 in Division II. The Red Raiders will compete in Division I this season in a conference that includes Exeter, Winnacunnet, Dover and Timberlane.

Hunt said the team's biggest challenge this season will be finding a replacement for Sam Ouellette, a senior who was a three-year starter at quarterback.

"We're in good shape as far as starters returning," Hunt said. "We have plenty of candidates (at QB), it's just a matter of finding the right guy."

rbrown@unionleader.com


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