Rick Leary wasn’t planning on coaching this season. Instead, he’ll go into this fall with the biggest gig of his career.

The 62-year-old Leary will take over this season as head coach of the Mount View football team, and will get his first crack at leading a varsity team after over 30 years as an assistant with the Lawrence, Winslow and Messalonskee programs.

“They’re excited to have me, and I’m probably the most excited I’ve ever been to go into a football season, because I’m going to be the head guy,” Leary said. “I’m going to do the very best job I can.”

Leary applied for the job, left vacant when Haggie Pratt stepped down to become an assistant at John Bapst, in the first week of July, and heard from athletic director Chris Moreau midway through the month that he had been offered the position. Leary takes over with preseason practices right around the corner, but said that he’s already taken steps to catching up on lost time, meeting with the school superintendent last Thursday and then with his team on Friday.

“It’s definitely a challenge, since I haven’t had a chance to have a minicamp with the kids or anything,” Leary said. “Some of the kids have been working out this summer. I got to meet them a little bit, took them for a walk around the field. They seemed excited and ready to roll.”

Leary, a former head coach at the middle school, freshman and even semi-pro levels, had stopped coaching in recent years, but began to consider a return to the field after the passing of his wife, Deborah, just before Christmas.

“I never would have stepped back on the field if she had (been in) better health. I was content,” said Leary, who called his wife his “best support in all the years of coaching.”

Leary’s interest was piqued when he heard from former Lawrence coach Dan Dangler, one of his closest friends, about the Mount View opening. He applied, went for an interview and got the job, and now is focused on instilling a physical style of play that can get the Mustangs, who went 5-4 and missed the playoffs last year, back into the postseason.

“My goals are probably to let the kids know that hustle doesn’t require talent and, ultimately, the goal is to bring the first gold ball to Mount View High School,” he said. “That would be quite a deal, to get the program really rolling and bring home a title.”

Even without varsity head coaching experience, Leary said he’s gained plenty of background knowledge to help himself out this fall.

“I’ve been very fortunate to coach a lot of good kids and been around some good coaches,” he said. “Dan Dangler and Mike Mealey, those guys are role models to me. I’ve watched the way they coached, the way they taught the kids, and they’ve been examples on how to do it right.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

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Twitter: @dbonifantMTM