WINSLOW — Just around the corner from the entrance to this town is a reminder of the person the Winslow football team is playing for this season.

Go south onto Bay Street after crossing from Waterville into Winslow via Bridge Street, and you’ll come across a sign for Duffy’s Cafe. The sign features a letter display that’s hard to miss: “RIP COACH BOLDUC.”

The message resonates with just about everyone in this storied football town. A future without Pete Bolduc was not what anyone at Winslow could have envisioned a year ago, but he’s not far from the Black Raiders’ minds as the team moves into a new campaign.

Bolduc died suddenly on Dec. 7, 2021 after suffering what the school called a “medical event.”

“He was a great role model, and he meant a lot to all of us,” said Winslow senior Gavin Chambers. “It’s going to be a change for us without him on the sidelines this year, but we know we have to come together and play hard for him.”

Bolduc came to Winslow High School from Messalonskee High School in 2006 and joined the football program as the defensive coordinator four years later. He helped the Black Raiders build stout defenses that led to back-to-back undefeated seasons and state championships in 2014 and 2015.


After longtime head coach Mike Siviski retired in 2020, the school tabbed Bolduc and another assistant coach, Wes Littlefield, as interim co-head coaches entering 2021. The two were set to become co-head coaches on a permanent basis before Bolduc, 49, died. 

Winslow football coach Wes Littlefield talks to players during an Aug. 24 practice in Winslow. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Bolduc’s death hit Winslow particularly hard. The Black Raiders were just a few weeks removed from playing Cape Elizabeth in the state championship game, and the date of his passing fell on Littlefield’s daughter’s birthday.

“He and my daughter, Bodhi, were really close,” said Littlefield, who has now taken over full coaching duties. “I worked with Pete for 25 years, and for me, I always looked forward to football season with him. He was a joker, and he always made you smile during tough times.”

As was the case with Littlefield, Winslow’s players would also confide when they needed to vent or merely talk about life. Moving on without their former coach has been a challenge, but the Black Raiders were quick to band together emotionally after his passing.

“We just stayed together and talked to each other, basically,” said Winslow senior quarterback Jared Newgard. “It was important to make sure we were all OK because it was something we were all going through. We needed to all be there for each other and support each other.”

Now, the time has come for the team to take the field without a former coach, who was an icon at Winslow and throughout the Maine high school football community. With Littlefield still on the sidelines, though, the transition from 2021 to 2022 has, in many ways, been more of an emotional adaptation for the Black Raiders than a strategic one.


Still, there are some adjustments to be made with the architect of many stout defenses at Winslow over the past decade-plus no longer on the field. Giving up points has not been something the Black Raiders have done often, historically, and the team’s 2014 (9.6 points per game allowed) and 2015 (5.3) seasons were the epitome of that.

“It’s going to be a lot different for us on defense without him,” Chambers said. “I think that’s going to be the hardest part for us, not having him around to teach us and to be there. He was a great coach, but he was also a role model for us.”

Littlefield, who handled offense and special teams duties for Winslow a year ago, is far from inexperienced when it comes to coaching the defensive side of the ball. He took over the defense at Messalonskee after Bolduc left the school following the 2009 season, and the Eagles experienced little to no dropoff in the years that followed.

Winslow football coach Wes Littlefield looks on during an Aug. 24 practice in Winslow. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I wouldn’t say [there’s been too much of a transition], not at all,” said Littlefield, Messalonskee’s head coach from 2003-12. “When Pete left to come to Winslow, I took over the defensive responsibilities there. We shared everything, so it was something I could do.”

Expectations haven’t dropped off for this program, which boasts 11 state championships. The Black Raiders will be seen as a threat to win the Class C North title, something they did last season and have been in the mix to do ever since Bolduc joined the staff 12 years ago.

There’s no denying, as Chambers noted, that there will be a different feeling with Bolduc not present at Poulin Field. But as the program pushes forward, a community pillar will still be a key part of Saturday afternoons.

“Every practice, we have his wristbands on, and we’ll always remember him,” Chambers said. “We’re doing it for Coach Bolduc this year; everything is for him.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.