Jason Mills (far right in the back row), pictured with the 2021-22 Penquis Valley High School boys basketball team, is stepping down from his positions as head coach of the boys' soccer and basketball teams. Credit: Courtesy of Eric Ogden Photography

The boys’ soccer and basketball teams at Penquis Valley High School in Milo will have new head coaches next season.

Sam Brown has been hired to guide the Patriots’ boys basketball team while Jay Murano will take the reins of the boys’ soccer team after Jason Mills stepped down from both posts to focus on his duties as a physical education teacher and the school’s athletic administrator.

Mills had coached soccer at Penquis for 16 years and spent the last nine years as the boys varsity basketball coach.

“It was time for a change,” Mills said. ”It was a hard decision, especially in basketball where we’re returning a lot and even in soccer where we’re returning quite a bit, too, but it was time to move on and pass it on to someone else.”

Mills was able to find both of his replacements within the school system.

Brown, a middle-school science teacher, played high school basketball at Lee Academy and John Bapst of Bangor before continuing his career at Husson University in Bangor. He most recently served as the Penquis boys junior varsity basketball coach.

“He’s had a lot of these kids in the classroom and he’s been the jayvee coach for the last three years so he’s familiar with everyone,” Mills said.

Murano, the school’s Jobs for Maine Graduates specialist, has been the Patriots’ girls varsity basketball coach for the last three years and coached middle-school boys soccer at Penquis last fall in addition to being involved in the local rec and travel soccer programs over the years.

“We’ve been very fortunate since I’ve been AD, probably 95 percent of my coaches in the high school and middle school are either in this [middle- and high school-] building or teach within the district. That is a big plus,” Mills said.

“I wanted this done early enough so that candidates could be found and summer programs could go on for the varsity teams and for the younger kids as well.”

Penquis, one of the smaller schools in Class C North, is coming off winning seasons in both boys’ soccer and basketball.

The Patriots finished the boys’ soccer regular season ranked fifth in C North with an 11-2-1 record last fall, then defeated Piscataquis of Guilford in the preliminary round before being edged by No. 4 Bucksport 2-1 in the quarterfinals.

The boys’ basketball team went 9-8 during the regular season to place 12th in the final Heal point standings, then fell to No. 5 Lee Academy in the prelims.

“The kids play hard and compete in everything and we’ve been successful the last couple of years and I think that will continue moving forward as well,” Mills said. “We’ve just got to get down in the younger grades and build things back up.”

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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...