It’s been 28 years since Skip Capone served as the head coach of a high school football team. When he heard the job was open at Cheverus, he knew it would be the right place to make his return.

Skip Capone

“It felt like it was time,” said Capone, 69, who was named the new head football coach at Cheverus on Friday. “I’m all in and we’re not messing around.”

Capone has coached football at the high school and college levels for more than 45 years. Capone’s resumé includes a 14-year stint as head coach at Lewiston High, ending in 1996, and 22 years as an assistant coach at Bates College. Last season, Capone served as an assistant coach at Oceanside High in Rockland, helping the Mariners win the Class C North crown. In 2022, Capone was an assistant at Portland High, helping the Bulldogs win the Class B South title.

Capone replaces Mike Vance, who stepped down in November after eight seasons as the Cheverus head coach. Capone joins Cheverus as the Stags make the move back to Class B for the first time since the 2019 season.

“Next fall we will move up to Class B and to have a coach of (Capone’s) caliber leading the Stags into the next chapter of our program is a big win for us. He is a dedicated, passionate, and skilled coach,” Cheverus Athletic Director Amy Ashley said in a news release. “He understands that developing players extends beyond the gridiron. From the moment we first started talking, it was clear our visions aligned and he truly understands what it takes to be successful at Cheverus. This makes him a natural fit with the mission of our school.”

Capone said the plan is for Cheverus to transition back to Class A over the next few years. The Stags won back-to-back Class A state championships in 2010 and 2011, and played in the Class A state final in 2013. With 364 students, Cheverus would be in Class D by enrollment. The Stags were the smallest school in Class C last season, and will be the same in Class B next fall.


“We’ll wait and see how it goes this season, but it’s 50/50 that (Class A) happens in 2025, but at least by my third year (2026),” Capone said.

Capone has already started putting together a coaching staff full of names that should be familiar to followers of Maine high school football. Former Portland head coach Jason McLeod will be the offensive coordinator, while former Portland defensive coordinator Mike Rutherford will handle the same duties under Capone. Mike Bailey, who was head coach at Portland for 26 years before stepping down in 2011, and Matt Cosgrove, son of former UMaine and current Colby College head coach Jack Cosgrove, also will be on Capone’s staff.

“At this point in my life, I want to work with guys I know, and know I get along with,” Capone said.

Capone said that Spencer Emerson, a former head coach at Poland Regional High School who coached collegiately in recent seasons, will be on the staff, but Emerson told the Sun Journal on Friday night that he hasn’t yet fully committed. “Coach Capone approached me and I said I will see if I can help out,” Emerson said.

Capone takes over a Cheverus program that went 6-3 in Class C South last season, losing to Fryeburg in the regional semifinals. A longtime contender in Class A, the Stags moved to Class B before playing one season of eight-man football in 2021, going undefeated and dominating the Large School ranks while winning the state title. Cheverus returned to 11-man football and Class C in 2022.

“We want to build on the real strong tradition. We’re not doing a tear down,” Capone said.

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