‘What a game to come back for’ — Dick Mynahan returns to coach West at Lobster Bowl

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Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl West coach Dick Mynahan sits with other coaches during media day at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft on Tuesday. (David Leaming/Morning Sentinel)

DOVER-FOXCROFT — Dick Mynahan admits to being a little bit nervous being a coach again.

But Mynahan, who retired in 2016 after 30 years as Lisbon’s football coach, has had a smooth adjustment back into coaching as the West all-star team’s head coach at the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl this week.

“It’s a little scary at first,” Mynahan said Tuesday during Lobster Bowl media day at Foxcroft Academy. “Even being out one year, you think about what you’ve lost over the course of a year, but it’s been a lot of fun because of the type of athletes I’m around and the type of coaches I’m with.

“What a game to come back for.”

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This is Mynahan’s second time being a head coach at the Lobster Bowl (1994 was the other time) and he’s served as an assistant several times, including two years ago under Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette, Mynahan’s former assistant at Lisbon.

Mynahan jumped at the chance to coach at the Lobster Bowl again when he was invited by former Edward Little and Lewiston coach Mike Haley.

“Of course, when Coach Haley asks you to do something, he’s done so much for football in the state of Maine, you wouldn’t consider saying no to him,” Mynahan said.

Chris Kates, who replaced Mynahan as Lisbon’s head coach, is one of the West assistants. He said that if Mynahan was nervous about coaching again it didn’t last long.

“Maybe the first day,” Kates said, “but as practice goes on, he’s right back in the full swing of things, how he always was before, and it’s fun to watch him out there in his element.”

Since his final game at Lisbon, a last-second loss to MCI in the Class D state championship in Nov. 2016, Mynahan has spent a lot of time traveling, including a 15-day trip to Ireland with his wife, Reine, and an Alaskan fishing trip with his son and grandson.

He usually finds a way to be back home by Friday night, though, and usually finds his way to a high school football stadium.

“During football season, we travel Monday to Friday,” Mynahan said. “I don’t know if she’s figured that out yet, because I’m home Friday night and Saturday. So, I go to games.”

Through that time as a fan, Mynahan was able to see many of the players he is coaching, as well as coaching against, this week — for instance, he went to watch Edward Little play Cheverus so he could watch Red Eddies quarterback Grant Hartley, who is on the East squad, because Mynahan has known Hartley’s father Darren for a long time.

One of his West players, lineman Noah Buiniskas, played for Mynahan for three years at Lisbon. Buiniskas said that his former coach seems a little different, but the real Mynahan might come out in Wednesday’s practice.

“We haven’t gone full-gear yet, and I’m shocked because that’s all we used to do back in high school,” Buiniskas said Tuesday. “But we’re going full-gear tomorrow. But he seems a little bit more relaxed now.”

The Lobster Bowl also gives Mynahan, who compiled a 209-85 record at Lisbon, the chance to coach alongside former assistants again — Doucette, Kates and John Murphy. Other tri-county area coaches also are on the West staff, including Leavitt head coach Mike Hathaway and a few of his assistants, Mark Bonnevie, Dave Bochtler and Bill County; as well as Dave St. Hilaire, who coached against Mynahan often as Lisbon rival Winthrop/Monmouth’s head coach.

“Dick’s been around forever,” St. Hilaire said, “and I’ve always had a lot of respect for him. He’s one of the top coaches in the state, and it’s just nice to be able to coach with him for a week.”

Murphy coached with Mynahan from the mid-1970s until retiring in the mid-2000s. The two have always spent a lot of time together away from the football field, so Murphy has been able to see Mynahan adjust to post-football life.

“I think it’s more difficult for him than it was for me,” Murphy said. “Of course, being a head coach, you’re totally in charge, your commitment is 110 percent all the time. There’s no one, I think, who works any harder at football than Dick does, so I think coming down from that was a little bit of a challenge for him.”

On the flipside, Murphy said, Mynahan is clearly savoring the time retirement allows him to spend with Reine and visiting his grandchildren.

What Mynahan misses most about coaching is not the games. It’s the preparation, the planning.

He’s spent hours — and enjoyed every second — putting together plans for the players to get them ready for Saturday’s game at Thornton Academy while also getting the most out of this week off the field.

“We want them to enjoy this week,” Mynahan said. “We want them to laugh, we want them to have fun, we want them to make friends, we want to remember this week as a good week. Those kids worked hard to get here … so we owe them something.”

What he doesn’t miss is the preseason. In fact, he purposely gets as far away as he can.

“What I do is, during preseason, I go on a fishing trip — I have three or four ex-coaches, we go away,” Mynahan said. “That ends our summer the right way.”

Mynahan might have been away from the game for a year, but Doucette says his former coach hasn’t missed a beat. He’s the same Dick Mynahan he’s always been.

“I coached with Coach for 19 years, played for him for four. It’s funny, when you coach with someone a long time, you know their mannerisms, their attitudes, their go-to things, and it hasn’t changed,” Doucette said.

“It’s been fun. It’s like the good, old days. We have a good time on the field. It’s a workman-like situation, but still, at the end of the day, it’s football and it’s fun.”

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