Members of the Dexter Tiger football team burst through a banner after being announced at the Oct. 29, 2021 playoff game at Houlton. The Tigers upset Houlton 60-32 to advance to the championship. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

Andrew Levensalor knew when he first stepped foot on the Dexter High School football field as a freshman that he wanted to eventually be a football coach.

After serving as an assistant coach at Dexter High School the past seven years, he’s finally getting his shot at being a head coach.

Levensalor will now lead the Tigers as the team tries to defend its small school eight-player football state championship title. The Tigers went 7-2 last season and beat Maranacook of Readfield 34-30 in the state title game on Bryce Connor’s last-second 14-yard touchdown pass to Avery Gagnon.

It was the team’s first state football title since winning an 11-player Class C championship in 1987.

“I’m excited. This is a good opportunity. We have a great group of kids,” said the 27-year-old Levensalor, who is also the head wrestling coach at Dexter.

Levensalor said being the defending state champs will put a target on their backs but his players know what to expect.

“The kids know everyone will be out to beat us,” he said.

Levensalor returns a good senior class and some quality players like quarterback Connor, “but we lost a lot of talented players. We have some holes to fill.”

He feels the offense will be solid but “we’re still trying to figure things out on defense.”

The football team has had anywhere from 19 to 26 players involved in the summer workout program, which Levensalor is happy about.

One trademark of his team will be its work ethic.

“The kids are going to work hard. When you work hard, good things happen,” said the Husson University of Bangor graduate and sixth grade math teacher at the SeDoMoCha Middle School in Dover-Foxcroft.

Senior Gus Irwin of Dexter, left pictured with head coach Andrew Levensalor, earned his 100th career win as a Tiger wrestler during a Dec. 18 match in Guilford. Credit: Contributed Photo

Levensalor is replacing Andy Shorey, who is the new athletic director and assistant principal at Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford.

Dexter High School athletic director Roy Pelotte said there were three or four applicants for the position.

“Andrew has been with us for seven years. We’re excited to have him as our new head coach,” Pelotte said.

He had been the special teams coordinator for the Tigers in recent years and he also worked with the defensive backs and running backs.

Levensalor was a running back and strong safety in his playing days at Dexter under Tim Wilson (three years) and Kevin Armstrong (one year).

He has hired two assistant coaches in Kyle Lockhart and Mike Wallace that he feels will be valuable assets to the program.