AUGUSTA — Lawrence High School football coach John Hersom said it was “quite a surprise” when he heard his Cony counterpart Robby Vachon had resigned.

That was the consensus amongst a number of head coaches in Pine Tree Conference B on Monday after Vachon confirmed Sunday that he had stepped down after eight seasons as Cony football coach.

“That’s a big loss for them,” Mt. Blue coach Jim Aylward said. “I think in-house with the way he has the program set up they’ll be fine, but it’s kind of surprising.”

“He did a great job obviously in the eight season he was there,” Messalonskee coach Brad Bishop added. “They were on the bottom for a lot of those years even prior to him. He did a fantastic job in getting them back into the playoffs and contending.”

Outside of Hersom and Brunswick’s Dan Cooper — who are heading into their 11th seasons with their respective teams — no coach in PTC B had been with their teams longer than Vachon. Both fondly recalled the many great games their teams had played against Cony over the last eight years, particularly more recently.

“We had a great Eastern Maine game at Keyes in 2012. That game was right down to the wire,” Hersom said. “Even our regular season games these last few years have been very competitive and closely matched.”

The last game Vachon coached — a 28-27 loss to Lawrence on a 2-point conversion with 1 minute, 8 seconds remaining in the PTC B semifinals — would certainly fall into that category as well.

“They had a couple close plays in those last few seconds to get down the field and make an attempt to throw it in the end zone,” Hersom recalled. “I guess it would rank right up there as one of the top wins for the Lawrence program under my direction.”

It is almost impossible to talk about Cony football without mentioning the program’s long-storied rivalry with Gardiner, and the Rams certainly enjoyed a great deal of success during Vachon’s tenure. Vachon’s Rams went 6-2 in games against the Tigers and have won the last three games in the series, including by a combined 117-14 over the past two seasons.

While Vachon’s departure has an impact on the direction of the series, Gardiner coach Matt Burgess believes the rivalry will continue to have plenty of steam without him.

“That rivalry has been going on for over 100 years and it will keep on going,” Burgess said. “Robby certainly made Cony very competitive, which has been great for the rivalry.

“It will be a loss certainly but that rivalry will keep right on chugging. That thing was around long before we were there and will be around long after we’re gone.”

The biggest question — and most obvious — is who will be the next coach to lead the Rams in the Cony-Gardiner game?

A number of league coaches were quick to speculate Cony offensive coordinator B.L. Lippert — who told the Kennebec Journal on Sunday he would apply for the position — would be a good fit for the job.

“He’s been a big part of their success,” Cooper said. “I don’t think they would have had that success without B.L. there doing what he did in the first place.”

If Cony elects to look to an outside candidate for the position it may run into some competition from other schools. Mt. Ararat athletic director Todd Sampson confirmed via email that they would be conducting interviews next week for the vacant head football coaching position at the school. The same job is listed as being open at Lewiston and Freeport on the schools’ respective websites.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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