WINTHROP — Calling it one of the most difficult decisions he’s had to make, Joel Stoneton said he resigned as Winthrop/Monmouth football coach to become the Winthrop High School athletic director.

Stoneton, 40, of Winthrop, signed a new contract Wednesday to become athletic director and dean of students at the Winthrop middle and high schools.

“He’s stepped down as football coach to take this position,” Winthrop Superintendent Gary Rosenthal said.

“It was time,” Stoneton said. “This is something I’ve wanted and the opportunity was too good to pass up. At the same time, you do feel like you are losing part of yourself. Coaching is something I’ve always enjoyed doing. I’ve done it a long time. This is very surreal for me.”

Stoneton graduated from Winthrop High in 1993. Two years later, he joined the football program as an assistant. In 2000, as an assistant to Norm Thombs, Stoneton helped the Ramblers win the Class C state title.

He then became head coach in 2004.

“I learned a lot as an assistant,” said Stoneton, who was part of four state championship teams as a coach. “I learned that coaching football, it’s a year-round commitment. We also had some great teams.”

Stoneton went 61-35 in his 10 seasons as head coach.

He went 14-13 in his first three seasons before it enjoyed dominant seasons in consecutive seasons, in 2007 and 08.

Winthrop went 9-2 in 2007, which ended with a tough 28-21 loss to visiting Boothbay in the Western C Campbell Conference championship game.

The following season Stoneton guided the Ramblers to the conference championship and a berth in the state game.

However, John Bapst spoiled Winthrop’s bid for a perfect season with a thrilling 21-14 victory to take the Gold Ball.

Former Winthrop quarterback Jordan Conant called the 2008 title game a “fantastic football game, but heartbreaking.”

“We had an amazing season,” said Conant, who is working toward graduating Georgia Tech this summer with a degree in electrical engineering. “I talk about that game and that season all the time. It was sad to have it end the way it did. We had a fantastic run. Joel really brought us all together that year. It’s sad to hear he is getting done, but a big congratulations to him.”

The Ramblers went 11-1 that season.

“That was tough,” Stoneton said. “That was a disappointment. I never brought home the Gold Ball as a coach, and I wish I could’ve done that.”

Winthrop seemed poised to reach another state title game last season after it formed a co-operative program with Monmouth that would compete in the new Western D Campbell Conference.

Winthrop/Monmouth won all eight regular season games and entered the conference playoffs as the No. 1 seed.

However, the run came to a screeching halt with a loss to Dirigo in the semifinals.

“We had a great year,” Stoneton said. “We just came up a little short.”

Although last season did not end how the Ramblers would have hoped, quarterback Jared Hanson said it was an honor to play for Stoneton.

“Good for him to get the AD job because I know he’s going to be good at it,” Hanson said. “It’s just weird seeing him leave as head coach because he’s been there forever. I just wasn’t expecting it to be any time soon.

“…He’s an unbelievable guy to be playing under. He’s all around just a great guy in general and he’s always pushing you. Hes always trying to get you to be your best. I loved every minute of it.”

Stoneton said he will begin to search for his replacement immediately.

Fall sports teams can begin practicing Aug. 18.

“We’ll go through the process and try to find the right person,” Stoneton said. “I may also help with the transition as we get going.”

Staff writer Evan Crawley contributed to this report.

Bill Stewart — 621-5618

[email protected]

Twitter: @billstewartmtm


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