Westford Academy football will be on the hunt for someone to build some plays next season as offensive coordinator Adam Gagne will be taking a head coaching position at Salem High School in New Hampshire.
There he will seek to replace legendary coach John Gati, who led the Blue Devils to a 121-77 record over nearly two decades at the helm.
While Gagne will retain his role as a business teacher at Westford Academy, the move to Salem brings him near his old stomping grounds of Haverhill, where he was a standout kick returner and wide receiver, scoring 11 touchdowns in his senior year before heading to play at Bentley College.
From there, he took a coaching position at Merrimack College before heading to Westford in 2009, where he helped the Ghosts to an 8-4 record and the highest scoring offense of any high school team in Massachusetts.
While Westford Academy averaged over 20 points a game this season, what may have been Gagne’s most impressive feat in 2011 was the fact that despite a torn Achilles tendon, limiting him to a cast all year, he would still climb up all the bleacher steps and up a ladder while holding crutches, just to get to his spot above the press box.
“We were obviously impressed,” said Salem athletic director David Rozumek, who himself was a five-year starter with the Kansas City Chiefs in the late 70s. “I like his mind, how it operates, not just with the X’s and O’s, and I think he’ll be outstanding for the kids up here, I really do.”
Back in Westford, the announcement was met with congratulations for Gagne and confidence that his loss can be overcome next year.
“I’m excited for him, Salem’s getting a great coach and a great person,” said Westford Academy athletic director Dan Twomey. “Coach McKenna’s got a great staff, and I’m sure he’ll find a great person to fill Adam’s shoes next year.”
Westford finished the 2011 with a 6-5 record, placing them third in the Dual County League Large Division, while Salem finished 7-4 on the year, losing to Pinkerton in the NHIAA Division 1 Semifinals.