Winslow head coach Mike Siviski watches his team during their Class C football state championship game against Leavitt at the University of Maine's Alfond Stadium in 2014. Siviski is retiring from the position after 35 years. Credit: Ashley L. Conti | BDN

One of the state’s legendary football coaches is stepping down after a storied career.

Mike Siviski, who led Winslow High School to 287 victories and seven state championships over the last 35 years, has announced his retirement from the post.

The 73-year-old Winslow native told his returning senior players of his decision Wednesday.

“I think it’s just time,” said Siviski, who returned to his alma mater in 1985 and also guided the Black Raiders to 11 regional championships during his head coaching tenure. “It’s been my pleasure as a Winslow kid growing up in this area to coach in a community with great football tradition, dedicated players and strong coaching staffs. It has for the most part been not work, but fun.”

Siviski did acknowledge the uncertainty of the upcoming season amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as a factor in his decision.

“The dynamics of football have drastically changed,” he said. “COVID isn’t the overall reason as everything came together, but it is a concern.”

Siviski, who graduated from Winslow High School as a three-sport athlete in 1965, has been part of a remarkable run of coaching stability within the Winslow program.

He is one of just three head coaches for the Black Raiders over the last 62 years, since Wally LaFountain — who was Siviski’s high school coach and later coached the school’s freshman team under his former player — took the job in 1958.

Harold Violette followed from 1969 through 1984 before Siviski — who went on to play at the University of Maine before beginning his coaching career as a student assistant with the Black Bears — returned home to teach history and coach football after serving as an assistant coach under Bob Cote at Thornton Academy in Saco.

“We’ve only had three coaches since 1958 and Michael’s the longest-tenured of the three,” Winslow athletic administrator Jim Bourgoin said. “He really is Winslow football and has been since 1985.”

Siviski guided Winslow to its first state championship under his leadership in 1986. He went on to add three sets of back-to-back titles in 1992 and 1993, 2000 and 2001 and most recently in 2014 and 2015. The first five state crowns were captured in Class B, the 2014 and 2015 championships in Class C.

In addition to the state-title years, Winslow also won regional championships in 2004 and 2006 (Class B) and 2012 and 2013 (Class C).

The Black Raiders finished 9-2 last fall, advancing to the Class C North championship game before being defeated by Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield 49-21.

Siviski was known as an offensive innovator, and his final team proved to be an example of that as it led the state in scoring at 52.9 points per game during the 2019 regular season and 48.6 points per game overall.

The 2016 recipient of the John Wolfgram Coach of the Year award from the Maine chapter of the National Football Foundation concluded his head coaching career with a 287-101 record.

“It hasn’t been the Mike Siviski show here at Winslow,” Siviski said. “We’ve had very strong coaching staffs all the way through, and it’s not just that we’ve had strong staffs but the staffs have stayed. Year in and year out there hasn’t been much turnover and that’s really been a key because we don’t have to coach the coaches.”

This offseason had been less routine from a football perspective for the longtime head coach, perhaps portending his decision to retire.

Siviski was not able to run his traditional summer football program at Winslow due to the coronavirus or hold his annual Raider Camp meeting timed shortly after the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl — also canceled this year — where players are issued their equipment and lockers for the upcoming season.

Siviski also charted out his team’s anticipated preseason workouts and found that in some cases teammates would come shoulder-to-shoulder or face-to-face 16 to 28 times during each morning of double sessions.

“I don’t know how you can social distance in a contact sport, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s that simple.”

No one has been named yet to fill Siviski’s coaching post.

“Obviously we’re up against the clock a little bit but we’ll do what’s best for the program,” Bourgoin said.

Ernie Clark

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...