Oak Hill High School varsity head football coach Stacen Doucette died unexpectedly Monday morning, RSU 4 administrators have confirmed.

Oak Hill players were called into the school Monday morning and informed of the news, the school’s athletic director Jim Palmer said.

Oak Hill head coach Stacen Doucette celebrates the Raiders’ Class D football championship after defeating MCI 34-21 at University of Maine in Orono in November 2015. The state title was the third straight for Oak Hill. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“He was the epitome of dedication,” Palmer said. “He expected a lot from players, and they knew that whatever expectations he had for them he was going to do double for them.”

“He was immersed in Oak Hill football and his players,” Palmer added. “When you were a player of his, he wanted to know about your family, wanted to know about your friends and wanted to know about school life. I think the truly great coaches, that’s how they’re remembered, by the impact they’ve left on a part of their players’ lives.”

Doucette, who was 45, was an assistant coach at nearby Lisbon High School, his alma mater, when he was named Oak Hill’s varsity coach late in the winter of 2012. In his second season, he led the Raiders to the state title in the newly reformed Class D with a 42-35 win over Bucksport. Oak Hill repeated in 2014 and 2015 with wins over Maine Central Institute. The 2015 team went 11-0.

In seven seasons, he compiled a 51-23 record. This fall, Oak Hill went 5-5, ending its season with a loss to Lisbon in the Class D South semifinals.

Doucette played quarterback at Lisbon for coach Dick Mynahan, then joined his coaching staff shortly after graduating in 1992. He served as an assistant coach when the Greyhounds won Class C state titles in 1997, 2005 and 2006, acting as the team’s offensive coordinator for the last two titles and up to the time he was named Oak Hill’s head coach.

“It’s just terrible. Oak Hill has lost a coach that they’ll never be able to replace,” Mynahan said.

Mynahan said Doucette’s move to Lisbon’s biggest rival didn’t affect their friendship, and the pair “would talk on the phone probably five days a week. That continued right up until just recently.”

“I know he was looking so forward to next year,” Mynahan said. “He’d already planned out the defenses he was going to play for the teams he was going to play and telling me what he was going to do against every team he was going to play. He was starting to think about what he was going to do against the teams in (Class D) North that he’s never played but he might play.”

“You’ll still see Stacen in that team next year,” Mynahan said. “In my mind, it’s still going to be his team.”

Mynahan recalled one talk he had with Doucette in the week leading up to his final game, the Raiders’ 48-20 regional semifinal loss at Lisbon.

“He was asking me what he should do to make sure it’s a good week for his kids. In case they lost the game, he wanted them to leave with a good memory about football,” Mynahan said. “He cared a lot about winning. He cared a lot about losing. But he cared more about the kids in a lot of ways, and I don’t think a lot of people really understood that about Stacen. But I did, because I heard about it over and over and over again.”

Palmer, who hired Doucette at Oak Hill, said he learned about Doucette’s dedication to his friends during their time together.

“He was like a brother to me,” Palmer said. “To be honest with you, he was not much different (away from football). We hung out quite a bit and he was full of energy. He loved getting together to enjoy each other’s company. I’ve never seen a coaching staff do as much as stuff as he did to get us and the coaching staff together. Whether it be a ‘Friendsgiving,’ or whitewater rafting or just hanging out at somebody’s house, he got everybody together and made it a family thing.  I think he got that from Dick (Mynahan).”

Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette, far left, runs behind the play as Alex Mace, center, bolts down the sideline toward the end zone for a first-quarter touchdown during the 2014 Class D state championship football game at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Also chasing Mace are MCI’s Dillon Fitts (26) and Eli Bussell (22). Brewster Burns photo

David Wing, Doucette’s predecessor as Oak Hill coach and a former principal at the school, broadcast Oak Hill games for local radio and online streamers and regularly chatted about football with Doucette in interviews for the broadcasts. He said Doucette would even call him out of the blue on an early morning during the offseason just to talk football.

Wing said Doucette’s most remarkable achievement may have been bringing rivals Oak Hill and Lisbon together. When one got eliminated from the playoffs, coaches and players from that side could often be seen actively supporting the team that remained the rest of the way.

“(Before Doucette got to Oak Hill) any time we played (Lisbon) in anything it was nasty,” Wing said. “He made that change. It was still a tough contest any time you played them in football. The rivalry was still there. But you’d watch what he did by inviting the Lisbon staff onto his sidelines during the playoffs and how he cared about their kids just as much as he cared about his own, it was remarkable.”

“I wanted nothing but success for Stacen, not at Lisbon’s expense, which happened quite a bit,” Mynahan said. “But if it couldn’t be Lisbon, he was my next choice.”

Mynahan and Doucette remained close after the former retired from coaching in 2016. When Mynahan returned to coaching part-time this season to help current Lisbon coach Chris Kates with Lisbon’s freshman team, Doucette briefly tried to filter the information he would share with his mentor. After the first week of the season, though, he was back to revealing the ins and outs of his game plans.

“Stacen trusted that he could tell me whatever he had planned,” Mynahan said, “and he knew I would never let Chris know. And the other side of that is Chris knew I would never tell Stacen. Those kind of memories are always going to be there. I always appreciated so much that Stacen always kind of asked my opinion. He didn’t need it, but he’d always ask it, and always kept me in the loop.”

Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette addresses his team during a preseason practice in August 2017. Randy Whitehouse/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Kates, a 2005 Lisbon graduate who played for Doucette and later served on Mynahan’s staff with him, called him a “relentless” coach, trying to look at games, opponents and game plans from all angles to find a way to attack an opponent’s weaknesses and enhance his players’ strengths.

“As a coach, there was no one that was more dedicated to the game itself and growing the sport in Maine,” Kates said. “He had a real passion for coaching kids. He did a lot of good things for my career, both as a player and a coach, and I’ve definitely learned a lot over the 18 years that I’ve been associated with him.”

Kates said he continued to use Doucette as a sounding board, and vice versa, even as conference rivals.

“With the exception of Lisbon week (when their teams traditionally met the final week of the regular season), we talked almost daily at six in the morning, just bouncing ideas off of each other and talking about coaching and just football in general,” Kates said. “I’m going to miss that dynamic of it, but the football was secondary.”

The school district posted a letter from RSU 4 superintendent Andrew Carlton and Oak Hill High School principal Marco Aliberti on its website and Facebook page on Monday morning announcing Doucette’s death.

Oak Hill High School coach Stacen Doucette chokes back tears after the Raiders won the 2014 Class D State Championship football game in Portland. Brewster Burns photo

“There is no question that his death will have an impact on all of us as Coach Doucette was a beloved member of the RSU #4 community,” the letter said. “Our thoughts are with his family as they begin to process this loss.”

The school district’s crisis team added counseling staff to offer support to students and school staff during the day and announced open hours at Oak Hill High School on Monday night during which counselors were made available to the community.

The school did not confirm the cause of death.

Kates said players and other representatives from both schools joined members of Doucette’s family at the Oak Hill gathering to comfort each other and still managed to laugh together at the end of a somber day.

“We were joking tonight about how the man feared silence. He had to be talking to somebody at all times. I can only imagine what his phone bill was,” said Kates, who led Lisbon to its first Class D state title last month. “He cared about everybody that he came into contact with through the game of football. He was a good friend to a lot of us.”

All Oak Hill after-school activities were canceled for the day, with the exception of driver education and adult education.

Palmer said the school received an outpouring of condolences and support from alumni, coaches, athletic directors and others around the state throughout Monday.

“The Oak Hill community thanks everybody for their support,” Palmer said. “It means a lot. This community will come together and get through this, as painful as it may seem.”

Doucette is survived by his wife, Danielle, and daughter, Valerie, a 2019 Lisbon High School graduate.

 

Comments are not available on this story.