When Jason Versey approached Lisbon football coach Chris Kates a few years ago about being an assistant for the Greyhounds, he also shared his aspiration:

Jason Versey, who was hired as Lewiston’s new football coach this week, attended Thursday’s boys basketball game between the Blue Devils and Edward Little in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

“Someday I want to be the coach of Lewiston High School.”

Versey’s goal became a reality this week when he officially became Lewiston’s football coach.

“I seriously have to pinch myself right now. It’s an absolute dream come true,” Versey said Thursday. “It’s something that I’ve wanted for a very long time, and I’m just absolutely thrilled for the opportunity.”

Versey’s hiring was approved by the Lewiston School Committee on Wednesday night.

“We had a great applicant pool, and I loved sitting down with everybody, everybody brought something different, and Jay just stood out in the process,” Lewiston Athletic Director Jason Fuller said.


Versey has a direct link to Lewiston’s past, which includes a tradition of success, and has a strong vision for the program’s future.

The Lewiston native was a junior two-way starter, at center and defensive tackle, for the Blue Devils’ last state championship team in 1987.

Football, though, is only part of why coaching the team means so much to him.

Lewiston High School football’s impact on Versey’s life spread far beyond that happened on the football field.

He was raised in downtown Lewiston by a single mother of three kids. Versey said he never met his father. But men like Skip Capone, Ted Moccia and Dave Bochtler stepped up to fill the void.

“I am so indebted to a handful of very special guys who guided me and changed my self-esteem, my belief system back then,” Versey said. “My coaches were my role models, were my mentors, they were everything to me.”


He’s determined to have that same type of influence on the athletes he coaches.

“I hope to have just as meaningful impact on my players as those men had on me,” Versey said.

Versey takes over for Darren Hartley, who resigned three games into the season in September. Assistant coach Justin Bisson served as the interim head coach for the remainder of the 2021 season and guided the Blue Devils (2-7) to wins over Mt. Blue and rival Edward Little.

The Blue Devils have won two games each of the past three seasons, and despite Lewiston being the largest school in the Maine Principals’ Association’s enrollment figures, it has struggled with small roster sizes in recent years.

“It was clear in the interview he had a real good understanding of where we were as a football program,” Fuller said of Versey. “Came in with a very definitive and specific plan to increase some numbers in the program, build some energy and excitement around the program, and it’s nice to look down and see an individual that thought out one, two, three, four years in advance of how he was going to build this program and what his vision is long-term.

“I think we’ve got to generate some excitement around the program. We’ve struggled for a number of years here, it’s just time to bring back some energy about it. Certainly bringing back an alumni that was (part) of the last state championship team certainly helps that.”


Versey played a key role in that state championship. He had three sacks in the fourth quarter of Lewiston’s 12-0 win over Mt. Blue in the 1987 state title game.

Fuller said Versey’s contribution to that state championship does help build excitement in the football program, but it isn’t the main factor in his hiring.

“He’s been successful in his life, whether it was in high school, whether it was college, of his professional life, he’s always been successful and done some pretty neat things,” Fuller said. “He’s an individual that can build things and move towards a direction and has been real successful at doing that.

“He’s got a very clear, good work ethic,” Fuller adds. “He’s going to put the time in and the energy that is necessary to build this program back to where we would be in the running again in Class A.”

The eight-team Class A includes some of the top teams in the entire state. Versey said Lewiston can get to that level.

“There’s always a tipping point and a turning point for every team, and it comes down to creating the expectation of what we do in the offseason; the weight room is vital, if you don’t have a strong weight program then you can’t expect to compete with the Thornton Academys of the world. We just have to start doing the things that will enable us to get bigger, faster, stronger so that we can compete week in and week out with these teams.


“And it takes time, but I promise you we’ll get there.”

His senior season at Lewiston, Versey was a team captain who earned all-state honors for his play at guard and defensive tackle.

After graduating in 1989, Versey attended Springfield College, where he competed for the football and track and field teams.

He has since lived in Cleveland, Chicago, then back home, where he worked for the Auburn YMCA for five years (he also was an assistant coach at Bates College). After that, he moved to Las Vegas (where he met his wife, Julie), then Colorado, South Carolina and Houston before deciding in 2018 to return to Maine.

At first, they lived in Topsham, and Versey helped coach Mt. Ararat. Then they bought a house in Lisbon. Versey’s son, Chance, played for the Greyhounds, and Versey became an assistant coach.

After Versey talked to Kates about his goal of coaching Lewiston, Kates gave him responsibilities that would help prepare him to be a high school head coach.

Versey’s next chance to coach will be special.

Chance will be playing in the Lobster Bowl this season. Versey said he is going to be one of the coaches for the annual all-star football game, which will be played at Lewiston High School for the second straight year this summer.

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