LISBON — Chris Kates played for legendary Lisbon High School football coach Dick Mynahan.

He coached alongside his former bench boss and helped run a regional championship-caliber team for four seasons under the longtime Greyhounds mentor.

Mynahan stepped aside last fall, after 40 years of coaching. Monday, Kates was named his replacement, only the third head coach in the history of the school’s gridiron program.

So, is Kates the next Dick Mynahan?

“If you try to replicate everything he’s done, you set yourself up for failure,” Kates said matter-of-factly. “He’s set such a good foundation for this program over the years, and I was very lucky to play for him and then coach with him. We’re definitely going to follow the blueprint he’s put out there.”

Another Mynahan, then? No. But Kates is the next man to lead the Greyhounds, and he’ll draw plenty on his experience and observations from the past several seasons.


“This is such a unique situation,” Lisbon Athletic Director Eric Hall said. “We haven’t had to change football coaches very much around here. We felt Chris was the best prepared for the job. I mean, you’re replacing a legend, but he’s ready for that. He has a good background with Dick, and he’s learned a lot working with him.”

A big piece of that blueprint, Kates said Monday, is physical football.

“The first thing is toughness,” he said. “We’re always going to preach mental toughness, and physical play. Our goal is to always outwork our opponent, out-physical them on game days. We’re really going to enforce that with our players going forward. We need to be the most physical team on the field every time.”

Lisbon has found plenty of success over the years being that smashmouth team, no matter the depth of its roster. Mynahan’s penchant for meticulous planning was a big reason why, and Kates said he has no desire to slow down in that department, either.

“He really showed me the amount of work that goes into a season, into planning for games,” Kates said. “It’s not always about what’s right in front of you at the games, or even in practice. A lot of what we see then comes from the hours of preparation behind the scenes, those Sunday meetings, the planning.”

Last fall, Lisbon advanced to the Class D state final, the Greyhounds’ first appearance in a title game since back-to-back Class C wins in 2005-06.


In the playoff era (since 1980), the Greyhounds have won three state titles — all in the past 20 years — and have finished second three times. Before the tournament structure, Lisbon also won or shared seven more state crowns.

The team will graduate upwards of 10 players from last year’s South regional championship squad, but Kates is optimistic there are many players behind them who can fill major roles in time for next season.

“Most of our line is back,” Kates said. “Anytime you graduate 10-plus seniors, you have some questions. But we also have some kids on the JV team that were kind of stuck there because of the talent we had at the top. And starting in January, we’ve consistently had 20-25 kids in the weight room every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That’s some of the best turnout we’ve ever had.”

And Kates would know. Save for his four years at Maine Maritime Academy after graduating from Lisbon in 2005, Kates has been around the program pretty steadily as long as he can remember. Even as he suited up for Maine’s semi-professional team, the Maine Sabers, he helped coach the district’s middle school team.

“There’s going to be a learning curve, for sure, and he also accepts that,” Hall said. “Since 1961, we’ve only ever had two football coaches here, and one of the most encouraging things with Chris is that he’s told me he wants to be here as long as he can. He’s devoted to this program 100 percent.”

With his playing days behind him, and with eight total years coaching in the Mynahan-led system, Kates now has a chance to put a stamp on the only program — and the only town — he’s ever loved.

“The biggest thing to me is that I get to do this all with Lisbon,” Kates said. “I’m from Lisbon, I live here, I’ve coached here. This is the only place I wanted to be. I’m excited to get started.”

Chris Kates, new head coach of the Lisbon Greyhounds football team.

Comments are not available on this story.