Luis Ayala, who guided the Foxcroft Academy wrestling team to a pair of Class C state championships and five consecutive Eastern Maine titles in eight years as the Ponies’ head coach, has resigned from that position.

Ayala cited professional reasons for the move. His job as a Spanish teacher at Foxcroft was a victim of budget cuts last spring, and since then he has taken a similar position at Dexter Regional High School.

In conjunction with his new job, Ayala must take several college courses in order to earn his public school teaching certificate.

“I wanted to still keep coaching,” said the Dover-Foxcroft resident. “But wrestling season is so demanding, and there was a conflict with that and the classes I need to take.”

Ayala plans to continue coaching the month-long SeDo-MoCha Middle School wrestling program, as well as the local youth program.

He also plans to return to the high school coaching ranks once he has completed his academic course load.

“We’re certainly sorry to see him go,” said Foxcroft Academy athletic administrator Tim Smith. “He’s done an outstanding job and probably didn’t get all the recognition he deserved. We understand why he decided to leave, but we’ll miss him because he did a phenomenal job with the kids.”

Ayala leaves behind the dominant program of the decade in Eastern Maine Class C.

Foxcroft won back-to-back state championships in 2004 and 2005 and currently is riding a five-year streak as regional champion that began in 2004.

Ayala also guided the Ponies to five Penobscot Valley Conference championships.

“I’ll miss those guys,” said Ayala. “There are some good guys coming back who have a chance to have a good season.”

Broncos to remember Osborne

The Hampden Academy football team will take to the field this fall with memories of a fallen teammate on its collective mind.

The Broncos have dedicated the 2008 season to the late Matt Osborne, who died last Christmas Eve when he was struck and killed on Interstate 95 in Bangor while trying to retrieve a gas grill that had fallen out of the back of the pickup truck he was driving.

“He was one of my best friends, and we’ve dedicated our season to him,” said Hampden senior quarterback and safety Shawn Smith. “All of our hard work is going toward that. He’s on our minds and in our hearts, so every game we’re going out there subconsciously playing for Matt.”

The Hampden players will wear decals with Osborne’s No. 27 on their helmets, and Broncos coach Harry McCluskey’s pickup truck bears a football-shaped decal also bearing Osborne’s number.

“He was a fine young man, and we’re counting him as one of our returning seniors,” said McCluskey.

Osborne, a fullback and nose guard from Winterport, would have started for the Broncos this fall, McCluskey said.

Hampden plays its Pine Tree Conference Class B season opener on Sept. 5 at Belfast.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...