By Mike Lowe
Jon Gallant is going home.
Six weeks after resigning from Deering High, Gallant was named the varsity football coach at Massabesic High in Waterboro on Thursday.
A 1994 graduate of Massabesic, Gallant is looking forward to returning to his roots.
"This was the one job that would ever get me away (from Deering)," said Gallant. "Deering was a special place, an important part of my life for many years. I have a lot of special relationships there that will continue to last.
"But it was that pull of going back where you came from that interested me. I have a lot of good friends who are still involved there, so it was an easy thing to look into and go back to."
Gallant, 37, was the head coach at Deering for the last two years, compiling an 11-10 record. He had been an assistant to Greg Stilphen the previous nine seasons there. He played for Stilphen while at Massabesic, then went on to play defensive tackle at the University of Maine, first as a walk-on and then as a scholarship player his final two years.
"He's a classic Maine football player, with a great work ethic," said Stilphen. "I can remember the end of the Shrine game his senior year, he came up to me and said he wanted to coach with me. He's very detail oriented. He loves football and has a great focus on what it's about. He represents Maine very well and I think Massabesic got a very good football coach."
Gallant, who was an assistant at Massabesic for two years before going to Deering, replaces John Morin, who resigned in January after 16 years. The Mustangs qualified for the playoffs in 11 of those seasons, winning one state championship.
But the program had slipped a bit in recent years, going 6-18 over the last three seasons. Now Gallant looks forward to reviving his hometown program.
"I know they've got tons of hard workers," said Gallant. "That's been a trademark there as far back as I can remember. They've always had tough kids, hard workers. If that's a starting point, it's a good one."
Brendan Scully, the Mustangs' athletic director, said there were 11 applicants. Gallant was one of the four interviewed and quickly separated himself from the others.
"Jon's track record speaks for itself," said Scully. "He was part of a highly successful program at Deering. His knowledge of our opponents certainly stands out.
"He was impressive in terms of his knowledge and his connection to our community. He's back in the family, so to speak."
An attendance coordinator at Bonny Eagle High, Gallant knows he's going to have to reach out to students.
"The best thing we can do is to come in and be successful, put in an exciting brand of football that gets kids hooked in," he said.
Gallant expects the Mustangs to play the spread offense he ran at Deering. "For so many years in Maine, we've made teams defend only a small area," said Gallant. "The field is 53 yards wide. Now we put athletes across the field. Instead of defending just tight end to tight end, or tackle to tackle, they've got to defend the whole field."
Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: