Mikey Ryan, the quarterback of the Gray-New Gloucester football team, warms up Wednesday before practice. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

One drive in Mikey Ryan’s freshman season provided coach Brian Jahna a glimpse into the future of the Gray-New Gloucester football program.

The Patriots were playing at Ellsworth in September 2019 when an injury to Patriots starting quarterback Danny Stash forced Ryan to temporarily take over under center. 

The freshman — who Jahna described as “scrawny” — showed poise as he led the offense down the field a touchdown.

Stash returned for the next drive, but Ryan’s drive was important to Gray-New Gloucester’s 50-44 win, and gave Jahna confidence about the years to come.

“He didn’t blink and went right down the field to score a touchdown,” Jahna said. “He only had that one series but kept the momentum going. He’s always taken the game so seriously and has gotten the absolute most out of his abilities. He’s one of those guys that is doing better than what he’s naturally blessed with.”

After Stash graduated, Ryan split time at quarterback during the 7-on-7 coronavirus season, then took over as Gray-New Gloucester’s starter last year.


Now a senior, and no longer scrawny, Ryan is now looking to lead the Patriots, who face Yarmouth (2-0) on Friday, to a home playoff game this season.

He’s bigger and better, and the team has improved. So there are reasons to be optimistic.

“We are a lot more confident because I’ve seen not just myself but everyone on the team put in the work to become a better team,” Ryan said. “I’d say my speed has improved; I worked on that a bunch this offseason.”

Gray-New Gloucester coach Brian Jahna said Mikey Ryan is “the best leader I’ve ever coached.” Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

In the season opener earlier this month, Ryan ran for a score and had a touchdown pass as the Patriots defeated Greely 26-12. Last week, in a tight 44-40 loss to Morse, Ryan ran for three touchdowns and threw for another.

“This year, he’s got that extra burst of speed and he knows when to pull the ball and run and can set up our offense up,” Jahna said. “He’s stone cold and doesn’t get nervous. It’s bizarre.”

Ryan is quick to heap praise on his teammates, and they don’t hesitate to compliment him.


“If there’s someone who is out there and doesn’t know what to do, he doesn’t get grumpy, he just helps you through it,” Gray-New Gloucester tight end Nick Geer said. “I’ve never seen him not confident. He just knows what he has to do and he goes for it.”

“He’s the best leader I’ve ever coached, and it’s been an absolute dream,” Jahna added. 

This summer, Ryan worked out a lot in the gym and worked on his strength and speed. He also has an even better grasp of Gray-New Gloucester’s read-option offense.

“He’s been so good for so long,” Jahna said. “He spent this summer working out in a really serious way, so I’d say physically he’s far improved. We noticed not just in his physical strength but his explosion, speed, so that is definitely the biggest improvement. He learned the position out of the gate, and he continues to get better at reading defenses, and between reading the defenses and his physical strength, he’s improved.”

Ryan’s longtime teammate Miles Post — they’ve been playing football together since second grade — said the senior QB’s ability to read defenses is crucial to the Patriots’ offense.

“He’s very good at reading the defense,” Post said. “Especially with how our offense is designed, it’s a read-option offense, so Mikey has to be reading what the defenders are doing and adjust accordingly. He does a great job at that.”

The Patriots were one of the original 8-man football teams when Maine began offering it in 2019. With players like Ryan, the program has gained a better understanding of the new type of football. The belief in the program also has continued to increase.

“I think the attitude has changed a lot more and we have a lot of guys that want to be here and get playoff wins,” Geer said. “The effort level has definitely improved greatly.”

“Attitude. This year we’re a lot more confident, we’re working harder and a lot of us have changed physically, too,” Post added. “A lot of us have been in the weight room.”

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