The six gold balls that Mike Landry won during a distinguished coaching career reside in southern Maine, but his influence in high school football reached up to central Maine and beyond, according to some local coaches who knew him well.

Landry died Tuesday at the age of 58 after a two-year battle with melanoma. He coached at Biddeford High School for 17 years and led it to six state titles in the 1980s and 1990s. After leaving coaching for nearly a decade, he returned to the ranks at Westbrook High School in 2003, spending two years on the sidelines before retiring when his illness was diagnosed.

“Even though all who knew the situation knew he was going to go, when it happens, it’s still a kick in the gut,” said Mike Haley, who coached against Landry while he was at Edward Little and had some of Landry’s players while coaching the prep team at MCI.

“He’s given a lot to football in the last 25 to 30 years,” he added. “He’s going to be missed.”

It won’t just be Landry the person who will be missed, Haley said. The coaching legacy he left will be missed throughout high school football in Maine.

“You look around the SMAA and his tentacles are everywhere – Massabesic, Thornton Academy, Portland – wherever you look,” said former Lewiston coach Skip Capone, who coached against Landry when Lewiston was part of the SMAA.

“A lot of his former players, a lot of his assistant coaches, really drew from him,” he said. “They really counted on him. I’m really worried about where our next generation of coaches is coming from, and Mike really contributed to that. He just trained them so well. He kept them involved.”

Capone said Landry was the first rival coach he met after taking over the Lewiston program, and the Biddeford coach had a profound impact on his career. Even though they coached against each other, Landry wasn’t afraid to pass on what he knew about the game to Capone.

He recalled one of his most memorable wins at Lewiston came against his role model in 1985, the year after Landry led Biddeford to the second of back-to-back state titles.

“One of my biggest achievements was beating them the first time at Waterhouse Field (Biddeford’s home field),” he said. “You kind of used that as a bar. You beat Biddeford.”

“It was a game where everything we did was right and everything they did went wrong, and the thing that struck me most was Mike’s approach after the game. He embraced me and said ‘You guys were the better team.’ He was so humble. That was the thing I appreciated as a young coach.”

The coaches remembered Landry’s teams being fundamentally and physically sound. Biddeford was one of the first programs to develop year-round strength and conditioning programs for their players, and Landry demanded his players to commit to the game. It showed on the field.

Haley attended many coaching clinics with Landry and said that while the coach had a winning formula “he was still on the cutting edge of what was going on.”

“His teams were so strong fundamentally, yet he always, always, always had a trick play offensively and had a little something different in his kicking game,” Haley said.

Both Haley and Capone last saw Landry at the “Super Saturday” state title games held at Fitzpatrick Field on Nov. 18.

“It was tough to see him because you hate to remember anyone looking like that because he was such a vibrant guy,” Haley said. “I was glad I got one more chance to talk with him.”

“I feel so lucky I was able to see him one last time, because he’s so special to me,” an emotional Capone said. “He’s my role model. There’s no one I hold to a higher level than Mike Landry. Personally, I feel a huge loss. The game has lost a great champion.”

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