BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor Comrades will begin defense of the 2009 Zone 1 American Legion baseball championship next month with a new head coach — but a familiar face.

David Morris, an assistant coach with the team last summer after nine years as head coach of the Brewer Legion program, has been named as the Bangor team’s new head coach.

The Bangor native replaces Fred Lower, who coached the Comrades to an 88-31 record over the last four seasons highlighted by a runner-up finish at the 2007 state tournament and last summer’s zone championship. Lower will continue to be active with the team by serving on the Bangor Legion Baseball, Inc., board of direc-tors.

“I went to Bangor High School and played at Bangor High School, and I love Bangor,” said Morris, who also coached the Brewer High School team for 12 years before becoming an assistant coach this spring at Bangor High School, where his son Dylan is a junior catcher for the Rams.

“It’s a pleasure for me to be able to do this, and I feel very fortunate to be able to start this new chapter in my life.”

Morris has a 360-172 record as a head coach at the high school and Legion ranks. In 1995, Morris began a three-year stint as varsity coach at Class B Hermon High School, then took over at Brewer where his teams went 135-66, a run highlighted by the 2008 Eastern Maine Class A title. He was named Class B coach of the year in 1997, and Class A coach of the year in 2004 and 2008.

He made his Legion coaching debut with the Hermon Navigators in 1996 and 1997, then became head coach of the Brewer Legion program in 2000. He amassed a 194-45 record with the Falcons, including four Zone 1 titles.

Morris appreciates the link between the Bangor High School program and his Legion team, particularly given the Comrades’ status as the lone Zone 1 team to draw from just one community.

“We view this as an extension of Bangor High School baseball,” he said. “I think in Bangor we have a very unique and special opportunity to serve the kids of Bangor, where you have other programs in Legion that are pulling in from more than one community.”

Morris will be assisted in the Bangor dugout by one of his former Brewer High School and Legion players, Kevin McAvoy.

McAvoy was a star third baseman at Brewer High School who led the Witches to the 2004 Eastern A final. He also was a four-time Zone 1 American Legion all-star who led the Brewer Falcons to a runner-up finish at the 2006 state Legion tourney.

McAvoy went on to star for four years at the University of Maine, where he was a freshman All-America in 2006 and a first-team all-America East choice as a senior in 2009.

He currently is conducting clinics and individual sessions at the W.I.N, Training Center, an indoor pitching, hitting and fielding facility in Brewer.

“I think Kevin McAvoy is going to be a great role model for our kids,” said Morris. “He’s going to be a great role model in terms of the person that he is, as well as playing at a high level having been a captain at the University of Maine.”

Morris and McAvoy will lead a Bangor Legion team that is coming off a 21-7 record last summer. The Comrades went 15-5 to earn the third seed in the Zone 1 tournament, then went 4-0 in the zone tourney games to earn a trip to the states.

Bangor went 2-2 at the state tournament and was eliminated by eventual state champion Nova Seafood of Portland just one game short of reaching the championship round.

This summer the Comrades will compete in a 10-team Zone 1 that has one fewer team than a year ago, as Motor City and Orono have merged. An 18-game regular-season schedule that begins June 15 will lead to the Zone 1 tournament that runs July 15-18.

“I think we’ve got a great zone and a competitive schedule that will give our kids the chance to play at a high level,” said Morris.

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...