The huddle of smiling faces gathered around the 50-yard line Saturday afternoon at Thompson Field could have produced an impromptu episode of “A Football Life” in honor of Lisbon coach Dick Mynahan.

Nah, that wouldn’t work. NFL Network’s one-hour, once-a-week vehicle works for hall of famers and one-hit wonders at the professional level.

When you’re a retired educator whose instinct and aptitude for impacting the lives of young men belies the wear-and-tear of your seven decades on the planet, there isn’t a time slot or a banquet hall large enough to contain the souls you’ve impacted. Former players turned coaches, past academic directors and a few stragglers offering a hug or a handshake merely scratch the surface.

“A lot of nice kids and a lot of nice people you meet,” Mynahan said in the understated, ‘go-talk-to-the-kids’ style that has been his trademark for the quarter-century I’ve known him. “It’s been a treat.”

Lisbon High School has known two head football coaches in the past 56 autumns. The late Joe Woodhead won five state championships and 164 games in his 27 seasons at the helm.

Mynahan served as an assistant for 17 years before taking over from the legend. So much for the rule that you don’t want to be the guy who follows The Guy. In his 29-year regime, Lisbon has known more state titles (three) than losing seasons (two). Saturday’s systematic 33-8 Class D South quarterfinal victory over Boothbay was No. 200 of his career, giving Maine only four active coaches who have surpassed that milestone.


None of it matters if it isn’t achieved properly. Mynahan, still physically fit and sharp as scissors in the medicine kit at 70, is the embodiment of the right way.

His athletes answer him with “yes, coach” and reply to reporters’ questions with “yes, sir.” They succeed in the classroom or they don’t play, and there are no special exemptions. His smallest, youngest players are imbued with the conviction that they could stop a speeding SUV with faulty brakes, if the situation and the depth chart demanded it.

He is a decent, merciful gentleman who never has a negative word to say about opponents or officials. More refreshingly, it proves that you can do this job without being a stammering fool or a weak-kneed moral relativist and thrive.

“What amazes me are all the things that he has done for kids, and for him to still be able to do what he does now and still get their respect,” Brunswick athletic administrator Jeff Ramich said. “It’s his attitude about life. Does he want to win? Yes, he wants to win, obviously, but he wants everybody to have fun. Practices are loose when he wants them loose, and they are tight when he wants them tight.”

Ramich has worn just about every hat, helmet or headset imaginable in his relationship with Mynahan. He played for Lisbon in the early 1980s when Mynahan was an assistant. He joined the coaching staff for four seasons, including the Greyhounds’ state championship campaign of 1997.

Later, for nine years, Ramich somehow became Mynahan’s boss as Lisbon AD. They celebrated back-to-back state titles together in 2005 and 2006. Not that the flow of learning ever changed direction.


“When I was coaching with him, spending every day with him at Sugg Middle School. He did computers. I did phys ed. I just sat there and soaked it all in,” Ramich said. “I remember an article about his 100th win that talked about him being a psychologist, and it’s true. It doesn’t matter what the score, what the size, he makes you feel like you have a chance.”

Jeff Benson, now AD at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, preceded Ramich in that role at Lisbon.

Football problems to Benson meant somebody had to run the snow plow gently across the field after a surprise November storm or make sure a volunteer was available to set the tables for the awards banquet. Daily headaches didn’t exist.

“You never worried, because you knew every little detail would be taken care of,” Benson said. “You knew his kids were going to behave, and they were going to play hard. You just had to worry about getting the officials here and having the other team show up on time, because you knew they were going to be ready.”

Past players are fiercely loyal, as well. Chris Kates, a quarterback on a 2003 regional championsip squad, is the top assistant today. Quincy Thompson, only two years post-graduation, has returned. Randy Ridley was a longtime sidekick and since has been replaced by his younger brother, Chris.

Football teams habitually pay lip service to family, but Lisbon football, done the Mynahan way, lives it. In an era that sees a prominent coach railroaded in almost every offseason, Lisbon leaves no doubt about who is the conductor.


“He’s the epitome of someone certainly from an old-school background who’s been able to make the adjustment to where kids are now from where they were when (Ramich) was playing,” Benson said. “He’s been able to make those adjustments, and he’s also very true to what he believes in. Go ask the kids what they say, and they will tell you from 20 years ago to today, they love playing for the guy.”

Blake Berube, a junior defensive stalwart, couldn’t wait.

“In seventh and eighth grade, we would go right out after high school and practice. I’d see if I could get a handshake from him every time,” Berube said. “He has a lot of respect in the community. Everybody knows he’s a great coach. He was definitely an idol to us. He’s a great coach. You couldn’t ask for better.”

His classmate, Noah Francis, shared the same wide-eyed anticipation, and reality fulfilled his expectations.

“It’s an honor to play under him,” Francis said. “It’s really a legacy.”

And what a legacy. Mynahan’s teams win with drama. Lisbon’s state titles under his watch are rife with tales the players’ grandchildren will never believe.


Goal-line stands. Ninety-six-yard drives in the final three minutes. Diving catches in the back of the end zone.

“He certainly has deserved everything that he’s gotten,” Benson said. “It’s a great program and he’s kept it there.”

The right way. A lasting, life-affirming way.

Two hundred is a nice, round number, but it’s a measurable one. The debt that so many men owe to Coach Dick Mynahan cannot be quantified.

Kalle Oakes is a staff writer. His email is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @oaksie72 and like his fan page at

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