PORTLAND – Jon Gallant, who has had two stints as an assistant football coach at Deering High totaling nine seasons, was named the team’s head coach Friday.

Gallant, 35, replaces Greg Stilphen, who resigned in March after 14 years.

Gallant, a physical education and health teacher at Freeport High, played for Stilphen at Massabesic, then went on to play at the University of Maine as a defensive lineman.

He has been Deering’s defensive coordinator.

Gallant spent six seasons at Deering, left for two to coach at Massabesic, then returned for the past three seasons.

“I’m very excited and very anxious to get ready for the next season,” said Gallant. “I have some great kids. We have a lot of experience and athleticism coming back. Defensively we have seven or eight starters returning. This group loves football and wants to be successful. The SMAA is the toughest league in the state. That was part of the draw for me at Deering.”

Last season, Deering had an 8-3 record and lost to Cheverus, the eventual state champion, 35-34 in the Western Class A final at Cheverus High.

Gallant said he’s looking forward to working with several returnees from that team while continuing to run many of the same things Stilphen employed, like the spread offense. He also plans to put in his own schemes.

“A lot of what I learned about football and the passion has come from Greg,” said Gallant. “Being a former player of his, Greg and I have a close relationship. It was an easy nine seasons coaching with him. I like the spread offense because it stretches defenses out.”

With Westbrook and Marshwood moving to Class B because of declining enrollment and the desire to have competitive programs, Western Class A will have 14 teams and a new two-year schedule.

Instead of Cumberland and York County teams playing a crossover game, they will be thrown in together. Deering opens with Noble, and also will play Kennebunk and Thornton Academy as part of its eight-game regular season.

Gallant said Kevin Stilphen, Greg’s brother, will return as an assistant coach. The Rams will look to fill another assistant’s position.

Gallant plans to meet with his team soon and firm up the spring practice week. Preseason practice begins Aug. 15.

“I’m going to work my tail off and get the kids prepared. We’ll see what happens,” he said. 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:
[email protected]