During his tenure as an assistant Cony football coach, O’Neil LaPlante witnessed several memorable games from the sideline during the last few seasons.

One of them, the 68-year-old Richmond native said, came in Topsham during a preseason contest at Mt. Ararat High School.

“I fell in love with the place,” said LaPlante, who also coached the quarterbacks and running backs on the Cony junior varsity team. “I remember it was a preseason game a few years ago and telling one of the other assistant coaches that if I ever had an opportunity to coach here that I would do it.”

That day came Wednesday, when first-year Mt. Ararat athletic director Geoff Godo announced the hiring of LaPlante.

LaPlante, a 1964 Winslow High graduate who played on the line for former Black Raiders coach Wally LaFountain, brings plenty of coaching experience to a struggling program that’s finished a combined 3-13 the last two seasons.

LaPlante coached Oak Hill for five seasons in the late 1980s into the early ’90s. He taught social studies at Oak Hill and also helped start the school’s wrestling program.

Most recently, he oversaw the Cony middle school program and worked with the JV and varsity squads under former coach Robby Vachon.

“I was originally recruited by Ralph Peterson to just help out with Augusta football,” LaPlante said. “Then I became involved.”

He took last year off from coaching but jumped at the Mt. Ararat position after Mark LaFountain resigned.

“I love to teach and I love football,” LaPlante said. “This was the right time, the right opportunity. I love the school and the facilities. I can’t wait to get going.”

Godo said the position attracted several applicants but that LaPlante’s wealth of knowledge and teaching background separated him from the field.

“He knows Maine football given his background,” Godo said. “He’s coached at multiple levels and has a good understanding of the importance of a feeder program. There is value in that. He is also an educator, which is important. He loves to teach. … I think genuine is a good word for him.”

LaPlante said he hopes to retain the assistant coaches.

“I hope they stay on,” he said. “There will be no changes there. Obviously, with a new coach, everyone wants to put their own brand in but we’ll sit down as coaches and go over a plan. We’ll likely be a four-man front defensively, and offensively I am a wing-T guy but we’ll see. I was a former lineman so we’ll do a lot of trapping. We’ll keep it simple. I am really excited for this opportunity and hope I can help keep the program moving forward.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5618

[email protected]

Twitter: @billstewartMTM

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