John Cornett (left), who coached the Foxcroft Academy boys soccer team this fall, has been hired as the Ponies' girls basketball head coach. He is pictured here with his daughter Taylor. Credit: Courtesy of John Cornett

John Cornett doesn’t know if his team will have a schedule to play this winter due to COVID-19.

All he knows right now is that he’s ready to dig in as the new girls varsity basketball coach at Foxcroft Academy.

“I’m excited that this opportunity came up for the winter season, and I’m looking forward to getting to know these girls on the court,” Cornett said.

Cornett spent 20 years teaching and coaching at the high school level in the Southeast before moving back to Maine with his family and joining the Foxcroft faculty as a math teacher in 2019.

He coached boys’ soccer at SeDoMoCha Middle School in Dover-Foxcroft a year ago, then led Foxcroft’s boys varsity soccer team this fall.

Cornett replaces Blake Smith as the girls basketball coach. Smith led the Ponies for eight years before stepping down earlier this fall, with his 2016-2017 team advancing to the Class B North championship game.

“We are fortunate to have a candidate in house that has the credentials and the know-how that coach Cornett brings to the table,” Foxcroft athletic director Jackie Tourtelotte said. “We are also grateful for Coach Smith’s dedication and contributions to the program. He left his mark on the team, and we can’t thank him enough.”

Cornett played middle school soccer at SeDoMoCha as an eighth-grader after his family moved to Dover-Foxcroft.

He then switched to football and played two seasons at Foxcroft under his father, Don Cornett, before joining his dad at John Bapst Memorial High School for his junior and senior years.

Cornett was the 1990 LTC Class C Player of the Year as a quarterback and defensive back for the Crusaders.

He graduated from the Bangor school in 1992 and went on to play football at Division II Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

Cornett coached football, soccer, basketball and track and field at high schools in Florida and Georgia before he, wife Kelly and their children moved to Maine.

The Foxcroft girls basketball team advanced to the Class B North play-in round as the No. 12 seed last winter before falling to No. 5 Houlton 56-41.

“I had a great experience this fall in my first season as a boys soccer coach, and I think I can take some of that success from the field to the court this winter,” Cornett said.

When basketball season will begin remains uncertain amid a surge in coronavirus cases in Maine and around the country in recent weeks.

Preseason workouts are scheduled to begin Dec. 7 with a week of “skills and drills” sessions, followed by the start of formal practices on Dec. 14.

Regular-season contests may not start before Jan. 11, 2021, according to the Maine Principals’ Association, and all three dates are subject to change.

“Just like I told my soccer kids this fall, I don’t know what our record will be at the end of the season, but I know we will play with a level of selflessness and the kids will get my best effort every day,” said Cornett. “I’m just looking forward to getting to work, and we will see what happens next.”

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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...