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Brian Goff cannot wait for Monday, when he officially begins his new job as the varsity head football coach at his alma mater, Belfast Area High School.
“Every time I walk down to the field I literally get chills down my arms,” said Goff, a former quarterback and free safety for the Lions who graduated from Belfast in 1990.
Goff went on to have a four-year career as the starting quarterback at Chowan University in Murfreesboro, North Carolina, and after serving a year as a graduate assistant coach at Chowan he went on to hold several coaching jobs in Florida and Alabama before returning to Maine two years ago. He rejoined the coaching ranks last fall as a volunteer assistant at Belfast.
That latest move was motivated by memories of his father, the late Bob Goff, who coached him during his high school years at Belfast, and led teams at Cheverus High School in Portland and Messalonskee High School in Oakland after moving to Maine from New York.
“My father died three years ago, and when I went to his funeral they had a big room set up with all sorts of pictures and newspaper articles from all of his years of coaching, from the Belfast years to the Messalonskee years and the Cheverus years along with the years when he coached in New York,” Goff said.
“Something came over me and made me realize that with all of those relationships that were built over the years, and the fact I had been a big part of that, it occurred to me it was time to get back into this and have it be a part of my life from here on out.”
Belfast has a rich football tradition that includes state championships in 1967, 1968, 1999 and 2003 along with three other regional titles, but the Lions have struggled recently with no more than three victories during a regular season since 2014 and a winless campaign just two years ago.
Goff replaces Gregg Bouchard, another Belfast alumnus who guided the team to a 2-6 record and a berth in the Class C North quarterfinals last fall but resigned to focus on his business interests in the Boston area.
“There were only a couple of places where I really, really wanted to coach, and one of them was Belfast for obvious reasons,” Goff said. “I put my name in, and when they offered it to me I couldn’t say yes fast enough.”
Goff said Belfast should return a more veteran lineup than it has fielded in recent years.
“I think their experience is going to serve them well because of a lot of the kids who now are seniors have had two or three years of starting experience,” he said. “And going through the losses they’ve gone through I think they’re hungry to get things turned around this year.”
Goff hopes to have more than 40 players turn out for the first day of preseason practices in advance of the Lions’ regular-season opener on Sept. 6 at John Bapst of Bangor.
“My core philosophy is to motivate and instill confidence,” he said. “I just want to establish the program, get kids excited about playing football again, make it fun for them and teach them the value of hard work and teamwork.
“All of those things can carry over to their everyday lives once they’re done playing football and graduate from high school.”
Goff hopes those tools also will lead to a revival of Belfast’s football fortunes.
“I just think at the end of the day you’ve got to put a product on the field so people can get excited about it,” he said. “I think that holds true for any level of football whether it’s pro, college or high school. If people are going to come out and spend their money and their time watching the Belfast Lions, we want to give them something to cheer about.”