The Belfast Area High School varsity football team will look to fill a significant void in its program next fall after the announcement that head coach Chris Bartlett will step down from that position after nine years guiding the Lions.

In that time, the Lions amassed a 33-48 record, with four trips to the regional semifinals in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Bartlett cited spending more time with his family as his number one reason from stepping down from a Lion team that finished 0-8 in Class C North last fall.

"I thank all of the Belfast community for giving me this opportunity and for being so supportive over the years," said Bartlett. "I want to thank all the players who I had an opportunity to coach and I hope I had a positive influence on them. I want to thank all the guys that helped me coach through the years and I would like to thank my wife and kids for their love and support."

Bartlett has two children ages nine and 17. He has been married to his wife, Melinda, for 10 years.

When you factor in that Bartlett has coached in an assistant or head coaching capacity for 23 years — including previous stints as an assistant at his alma mater Hampden Academy — it was time “to disconnect and take a break.”

“My season starts on June 23,” said Bartlett in reference to summer workouts. “So you say goodbye to your wife on June 23 until November. We run 7-on-7s in Hampden at night, and it just took it’s toll and I needed a break so I’m stepping away from the game for a while. It doesn’t mean I’m done [forever], but we need this for ourselves and for the family.”

Bartlett mentioned a handful of poignant memories, including traveling to Turner in 2012 as a significant underdog to knock off No. 2 Leavitt in the quarterfinals or defeating Camden Hills of Rockport 50-0 on the road in the quarterfinals a week after dropping a 15-14 decision to the Windjammers in the regular-season finale at home.

But for Bartlett, the triumphs and defeats on the gridiron will not be what he remembers most fondly.

“The moments with the kids [will],” he said. “Spending time with them here in the mornings, the stuff that you joke about and the funny things that a kid might do during a workout session. In my mind there’s no bad memories, just good memories.”

However, he does have one final football game to coach. He is one of the coaches for the 2018 Maine Shriners Lobster Bowl Classic this summer.

Bartlett, of course, also is the coach of the varsity softball team and continues to prepare for his 14th season guiding the Lions. He said he has no plans to relinquish control of the softball program.

“Every coaching position I have I take seriously and I put my whole heart into it, but it’s definitely a lot more relaxed,” said Bartlett of softball. “You’ve got earlier practices, they’re not as long, it’s nicer out, games are at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. It’s just an easier season to manage and coach.”

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