EAST MACHIAS, Maine — Steve Pineo, who guided the Washington Academy boys basketball program to its first state championship in 2010, has stepped down as the head coach after six seasons.
“It was a family decision, and I certainly have mixed feelings about it. I’ve been [coaching] for 25 years,” said Pineo, who runs Pineo’s True Value in Machias.
“I need to pay a little attention to that, so I’m going to step away for a little while,” he said. “I’m not going to say I’ll never be back, maybe at a different level.”
The 1988 Washington Academy graduate compiled a 74-45 record while leading the Raiders to six consecutive postseason appearances.
He inherited a team that went 17-1 and reached the Eastern Maine Class C semifinals during the 2008-09 season under Kenrick Liburd, who left for a college coaching job in Tennessee.
Pineo guided that squad to another 17-1 finish and the top seed in Eastern C. The Raiders then defeated defending state champion Calais in the EM final before topping Dirigo of Dixfield 70-58 in the 2010 state final.
“Certainly that team was built to play the style of ball that I like to run, we kind of matched,” said Pineo. “We’d press and run and score a lot of points, and those boys were built for that style of ball.
“I stepped into a good situation, but we meshed well together,” he said.
The championship team was led by a trio of key seniors in Bangor Daily News All-Maine guard Ben Teer, backcourt mate Noah Von Rotz and forward Bryce Colbeth.
Washington Academy spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons in Class B — where the Raiders also will be next winter under the Maine Principals’ Association’s newly adopted five-class format.
“We went from being one of the largest schools in Class C to being one of the smaller schools in Class B, but I think it made us tougher,” he said. “The basketball certainly was different, it was more physical and we had to toughen up a little bit.”
The Raiders returned to Class C in the 2013-14 season and last winter went 11-7 before falling to Houlton in the regional quarterfinals.
Pineo also coached his two sons, Nick and Colin, during his tenure. Younger son Colin Pineo will graduate from Washington Academy in June.
“It was special, and it also was tough at times because sometimes I think they took the harder end of it playing for their dad as a coach,” he said.
Steve Pineo broke into the coaching ranks with the Washington Academy freshman boys basketball team from 1992 to 1995, then he coached the junior varsity squad from 1995 to 2000. He went on to coach at Jonesboro Junior High School at the elementary and middle-school levels as he followed his sons up the ranks before taking the Washington Academy varsity post.
“We had a lot of fun, some really good teams and even better kids,” he said. “It’s a great school, and I always had great support. There were never any parent issues, which is rare these days. The community is great, and the administration and the school were very supportive.”
Kevin Armstrong has stepped down after three seasons as head football coach at Dexter Regional High School.
Dexter principal Steve Bell said Armstrong cited the recent birth of his first child and increased responsibilities in his job as an electrician for his decision.
Armstrong, a 2002 Dexter graduate, replaced Tim Wilson in 2012 and guided the Tigers to a 12-12 regular-season record and LTC playoff berths in 2012 and 2013.
Dexter was 3-5 last fall, just missing a third straight postseason appearance.