In this 2014 file photo, Thornton Academy football players raise the gold ball after beating Windham High School in Portland for the Class A state championship in Portland. The BDN is asking readers to help select Maine's greatest high school football coach of all time. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

High school football in Maine dates back to the late 1800s when rivalries such as Cony of Augusta-Gardiner, Biddeford-Thornton Academy and Lewiston-Edward Little began.

Over the years, scores of influential coaches have graced the state’s sidelines, imparting their knowledge and wisdom on generations of young men.

That’s why the Bangor Daily News is asking readers to help select Maine’s Greatest High School Football Coach of All Time. Through your nominations, we have put together a star-studded list of 32 standout coaches and have matched them against each other here in a seeded, NCAA-style bracket.

Now, it’s your turn to pick your favorites and select Maine’s top all-time high school football coach.

While Maine’s earliest high school coaches have long since been forgotten, many from the last 75 years are still remembered fondly. Whether for their ability to produce championship-caliber teams, or their knack for rallying athletes together for a common cause while creating lifelong bonds, we have been blessed with some outstanding coaches.

The contest begins at 1 a.m. Thursday, and will continue until you have determined a winner early next week. Each round only lasts 24 hours, so make sure to vote for your favorites.

Here is a look at our candidates, listed in alphabetical order:

Dick Agreste was the head coach at Thornton Academy from 1985-96. The Golden Trojans claimed Class A titles in 1986 and 1988.

Butch Arthers won 111 games in 16 seasons as the head coach or co-head coach with Butch Richards at Belfast. The Lions annexed six Eastern Maine championships and three Class B state titles (1996, 1999, 2003).

Tom Bertrand has built Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield into a small-school power. In his 18 seasons, the Huskies took home gold balls in 2016 and 2017 and registered 120 career victories.

Ray Caldwell guided Mt. Blue High of Farmington for 20 years (1972-91). He engineered three state championship campaigns in 1974, 1975 and 1980.

Earle “Pete” Cooper was the face of football at Lawrence High in Fairfield for 28 seasons (1968-96) and took home state championship trophies in 1973, 1983 and 1984.

Kevin Cooper, the son of “Pete” Cooper, has kept Bonny Eagle of Standish at or near the top of the Class A ranks for most of his 21 seasons. The Scots have won seven state titles in 16 years (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2013, 2016, 2019).

Bob Cote’s team at St. Louis High in Biddeford captured five state titles from 1957-70. He then spent 15 seasons at Thornton Academy in Saco and finished with 173 career victories.

Stacen Doucette coached at Oak Hill in Wales for seven seasons. He molded the Raiders into a top program, winning three consecutive Class D state titles from 2013-15 before his death in 2019.

David Evans coached Dexter to state titles in 1985 and 1987 along with two runner-up finishes. He then led Stearns to Class C championships in 1991 and 1992.

Jack Flynn led South Portland to eight regional crowns in 19 seasons (1966-85), then spent three years at Scarborough (2006-08), winning the 2008 Class B state championship.

Art Greenlaw was the head coach at Stearns High in Millinocket from 1976-90 and 1995-97. His teams won 111 games and secured gold balls in 1982, 1984, 1987 and 1995 along with five Little Ten Conference crowns.

Mark Hackett was the head coach at Bangor High for 14 seasons. The Rams claimed 108 victories and four regional titles with a Class A state championship in 2001.

Lawrence “Doc” Hersom coached at Rumford High and Edward Little High in Auburn. From 1966-80, he helped the Red Eddies win three state titles in 1972, 1976 and 1977.

Gerry Hodge guided the fortunes of Bangor High football for 18 seasons (1958-75). His Rams won state championships in 1973 and 1975 among 116 career wins.

Kevin Kezal is Thornton Academy’s winningest football coach with 153 victories in 20 seasons. His Golden Trojans have won four state championships in the last eight years (2012, 2014, 2015, 2018) with two other regional titles.

Mike Landry was the architect of Biddeford’s Class A powerhouse program. From 1976-93, the Tigers earned six state titles, including four in five seasons (1990-94). He also coached two seasons at Westbrook.

Bob Lucy’s teams racked up 80 victories at his alma mater, Orono High. He directed the Red Riots to state championships in 1990 and 1994.

Dick Mynahan served as the head coach at Lisbon High for an incredible 30 seasons from 1997-2016. He engineered 205 career victories and the Greyhounds won state titles in 1997, 2005 and 2006.

Niles Nelson coached Orono High School during one of the most dominating three-year spans in Maine football history. The Red Riots logged three straight undefeated seasons with three state titles from 1978-80. He also got Bangor High to the state game in 1986.

Ken Perrone’s career started at Dixfield High. He then guided John Bapst of Bangor to state titles in 1964 and 1965, before leading Brewer to two Class A championships, including the undefeated, nationally ranked 1970 squad.

Jonathan “Gabby” Price spent 18 seasons over two stints at Bangor High (1976-84, 1992-2000). His teams won 129 games and captured four regional crowns and Class A state titles in 1979 and 1981.

Joe Rafferty is Maine’s longest-tenured coach, having led Kennebunk for 42 seasons. His teams have claimed 204 wins with one state championship (1991) and three state runner-up plaques.

Tim Roche has guided the football fortunes at Wells for 15 seasons and 155 victories. During his tenure, the Warriors have won four state championships (2011, 2016-18) in three classes.

Alex Rotsko has put together an impressive run at Marshwood. In only eight seasons since 2011, the Hawks have amassed 80 wins and won five gold balls.

Art Rudman coached at North Yarmouth Academy, Rockland (1971-77), Cheverus and Madison (1981-86) high schools. His undefeated 1982 Madison squad was the Class C state champion.

Joel Sankey has directed the Bucksport High program for 25 years and is the LTC career victories leader. The Golden Bucks won a state championship in 2004 and have four other regional titles.

Mike Siviski spent his entire career as a head coach, 35 seasons, at Winslow. The Black Raiders racked up seven state titles and 11 regional crowns en route to more than 250 victories.

Jack Trull was the architect of Old Orchard Beach’s ascension in the small-school ranks. The Seagulls won the Class D state title in 1986, then captured Class C championships in 1990 and 1993.

Harold “Tank” Violette engineered state championship runs at Belfast in 1967 and 1968 before moving to Winslow. He led the Black Raiders from 1969-84 and amassed 113 victories, with state titles in 1973, 1976 and 1982.

Tim Wilson coached at Dexter High for two stints, 1966-71 and 2006-11. During the first, his teams garnered the 1969 and 1970 Class C co-state championships.

Paul Withee was a fixture on the sidelines for 19 seasons (1990-2008) at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft. His teams registered seven regional titles and claimed three state championships in 1996, 2003 and 2007.

John Wolfgram’s teams claimed 10 state championships and won 309 games at four schools including Madison, Gardiner, South Portland and Cheverus of Portland.

Rod Wotton won 14 state championships at South Berwick High and Marshwood High in Eliot from 1966-92. That includes 11 titles won or shared from 1971-84.

Correction: The name of Thornton Academy coach Kevin Kezal was spelled incorrectly in a previous version of this story.

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Pete Warner

Pete is a Bangor native who graduated from Bangor High School, Class of 1980. He earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He has been a full-time member of the Bangor...