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Black Bear football heads into offseason under new leadership

The University of Maine football program, coming off of a historic season that ended in the team’s first ever appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision semi-finals, is under new leadership. Maine welcomed in Nick Charlton as the new head coach of the university’s football program, following the departure of former head coach Joe Harasymiak, who left the program following the end of the season to become a defensive backs coach at the University of Minnesota.

Charlton, Maine’s former offensive coordinator, built a powerful offense for the Black Bears, as the team had its strongest scoring offense, putting up 26.5 points per game, since the Black Bears’ last playoff appearance in the 2013 season. Though the Black Bears’ offense did struggle for periods of time during games throughout the season, Charlton’s ability to calm his group down and get the momentum going again is a key reason for the Black Bears’ strong season and his promotion. Even more impressive are the weapons Charlton deployed and how he utilized each players’ potential. Firstyear running back Ramon Jefferson, who enjoyed the luxury of a strong offensive line, rushed for more than 1,000 yards over the course of the regular season and playoffs, becoming the only first-year running back in school history to ever do so.

Second-year quarterback Chris Ferguson, who became the team’s starter over the 2018 offseason, worked well within Charlton’s offensive scheme, throwing for 2,372 yards and 22 touchdowns on the season. While those stats may not pop off the page, Charlton’s play calling kept Maine honest on offense, controlling the game clock with lengthy drives, while the Black Bears’ strong defense suffocated opposing offenses.

Charlton has slowly climbed the ranks within Maine’s football program, joining the team’s staff as an assistant wide receivers coach in the offseason of 2015. In 2016, Charlton was promoted to special teams coordinator, a position which he would eventually give up following a promotion to offensive coordinator in the 2018 offseason. While Charlton’s lack of experience as a head coach is evident, his leadership abilities should easily translate over to head coaching duties. Charlton’s appointed defensive coordinator Michael Ryan, the previous linebackers coach for the team, will continue to keep the same defensive powerhouse culture developed by the Black Bears this past season.

Assistant Kurt von Bargen was brought in from Chowan University in North Carolina to handle the duties of the defensive line. While being an unfamiliar face in the locker room, von Bargen’s accolades speak for themselves. In his first year as defensive coordinator for Chowan University, the defensive units’ points per game allowed plummeted by a jaw dropping 20 points.

Replacing Charlton as offensive coordinator is Maine’s former wide receivers coach Andrew Dresner, who coached third-year wide receiver Earnest Edwards to second team all conference honors after a posting 53 catches for 839 yards and a team leading 10 touchdowns. Offensive line coach Pat Denecke was also promoted within the program, adding duties of assistant head coach and run game coordinator to his responsibilities. Considering the wide open running lanes Jefferson and the other running backs enjoyed, and the fantastic pass protection Ferguson had, the future looks bright. Maine’s youth on offense, paired with a strong defense, gives the new coaching staff and fans much to hope for in the coming season.

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