PORTLAND—Longtime assistant coach Mike Vance was named Friday afternoon as the new head coach of the Cheverus football program.
Vance replaces the legendary John Wolfgram, who stepped down last month.
Vance spent the past decade as the Stags’ defensive coordinator and head junior varsity coach, playing a key role in the program’s ascendance to the Class A pinnacle in 2010 and 2011 and helping Cheverus win a record 34-straight games between 2010 and 2012.
“It just feels right and I really feel lucky,” Vance said. “It’s an honor for me and my family to be considered. Cheverus football is important to a lot of people and I know there were other strong candidates. I want to give these kids the best experience I can. I want to represent this school the best that I can. It’s an exciting day. It’s an exciting day for the kids too. They’ve been in limbo for five or six weeks now. That hasn’t happened in 10 years or so.”
Vance, a Scarborough resident, has coached for more than 20 years as an assistant at Gorham, Scarborough and South Portland, in addition to Cheverus. He said he took quite a bit from his time with the state’s most storied coach.
“Things that stick out with John is that he keeps things simple,” Vance said. “He’s very consistent and he does the ordinary extraordinarily well.”
Vance is well aware that it’s not easy to replace a legend, but he’s confident he’ll be the right fit.
“I have a relationship with these kids and I want to keep it,” Vance said. “I know how to be me and that’s what I’m going to do. I don’t have a specialty. I’ve coached most of the positions. I wanted to learn the game from a broader perspective. Defense wins championship, but offense keeps the kids happy.”
Cheverus athletic director Gary Hoyt was excited about the hire.
“We feel blessed to have Mike join the Stag family as the head coach of our football program,” Hoyt said. “We know we’re getting a coach with high standards, who will work hard and knows our community. We look forward to the program moving forward under his leadership and know that the student-athletes at Cheverus will strive in a positive environment.”
Principal John Mullen seconded Hoyt’s feelings.
“I’m delighted Mike is our new football coach,” Mullen said. “Mike values each individual student, demands respect among his players and is an outstanding teacher of the game of football.”
Cheverus went 6-4 a year ago, losing to Windham in the Class A North semifinals.
The Stags expect to remain a top contender again in 2016.
“We won’t reinvent the wheel,” Vance said. “Our principles offensively and defensively will remain. The most important thing is sticking to our philosophy. Everything else takes care of itself. We want to make excellence a habit and do it with integrity. I know the kids will buy into it again. We have a lot of character kids coming back. We’ve got outstanding coaches coming back. I’m excited to get started.”
New Cheverus football coach Mike Vance.