Portland High football head coach Jason McLeod instructs players during practice in the week leading up to the Class B state championship game. McLeod has resigned as the Bulldogs coach. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Jason McLeod has resigned as the head football coach at Portland High after going 19-12 in three seasons, including an 8-4 record this season with a trip to the Class B championship game.

“It’s just time. The things that we’ve done there, it’s been great and we’ve had a lot of success and we put some players on to college football rosters but now is a good time to bid adieu,” said McLeod, who took over as Portland’s head coach prior to the 2019 season. “A lot comes down to I have three kids and want to be able to see them do things.”

McLeod, 44, and his wife Holly live in Windham. Their daughter is a freshman at Cheverus High who plays volleyball and softball. Their sons are in seventh grade and kindergarten.

Portland lost to Skowhegan, 20-14, in the Class B championship game. After starting the season 1-3, with consecutive losses to Class C champion Leavitt, Bonny Eagle and Class A champ Oxford Hills, Portland rebounded and won seven straight games.

McLeod said he told his team he would be stepping down prior to the annual Thanksgiving Day game with Deering. Portland won the game, 37-0.

Including Thanksgiving exhibition wins the past two seasons, Portland went 20-5 combined in 2021 and 2022 with consecutive appearances in the B South final. Portland was 1-7 (1-8 with a Thanksgiving loss) in McLeod’s first year in 2019.


“When Jason agreed to be the head coach at Portland, I think we only had 14, 15 returning players and there was a lot of talk about combining Portland and Deering into one program at that time,” said Portland Athletic Director Lance Johnson. “Four years later, we’ve got a roster of 44 kids and they’ve won 20 games in the last two years.

“He struggled his first year, played a lot of young kids, and stuck with it through the COVID year (of 2020) and the last couple of years he made people want to come to Portland High and want to play for him,” Johnson added.

This was McLeod’s 25th season coaching football. He had been an assistant at Bonny Eagle, Westbrook, and Windham, before joining Jim Hartman’s staff at Portland from 2016-18. At Westbrook he filled in for two years as the head coach when the late Mike Landry had to step away for cancer treatment.

McLeod said that two of Portland’s top assistant coaches, defensive coordinator Mike Rutherford and Skip Capone, are also resigning. Johnson said he does not have formal notification from Rutherford or Capone. “I don’t know if that’s for sure or not,” Johnson said.

McLeod said he expects to return to coaching football at some point.

“The time I had at Portland was great and that time had run its course for reasons mostly related to my family,” McLeod said. “But if a different situation came up that was logistically more of an ideal fit then I would be interested.”

McLeod’s final game as Portland’s head coach was memorable, he said, in part because of a third-quarter conversion play. After Portland scored its fourth touchdown, McLeod called a timeout so he could ask Deering Coach Leon Smith if the Rams would assist with a running play designed for student manager Joe Miller, a PHS senior.

“Leon Smith was absolutely aces,” McLeod said. “Our manager Joe Miller has cerebral palsy and we ran him in for a two-point conversion and Leon was all for it. Miller, he’s such a great kid. He’s the manager for football and basketball and baseball, too. He does so many things for us and the kids love him, too.”

McLeod was Portland’s head softball coach last season, taking over when Robbie Ferrante had health issues. McLeod said he has not decided yet if he plans to return to the PHS softball team.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.