Ryan Libby, who guided the Skowhegan High School River Hawks to their first state championship since 1978 this past fall, has resigned to take an assistant principal’s position at the school.
He had been a math teacher.
The River Hawks beat Portland 20-14 in the Class B state championship game last season after going 6-2 in Class B North during the regular season and then beating Brewer (42-6), Lawrence of Fairfield (66-48) and Falmouth (66-35) in the playoffs to capture the regional title.
Libby took over for Matt Friedman as the interim head coach in 2017 after Friedman left to become the wide receivers coach at Bangor’s Husson University. He assumed the permanent role the next season.
His five River Hawk teams went 24-16 during the regular season and three of the five were either the top seed (twice) or second seed in the Crabtree Standings, which they were this past season.
His teams went 8-4 in the playoffs and won at least one playoff game in four of his five seasons. His first team, in 2017, won Class B North but lost to Marshwood of Eliot in the state championship game.
Libby had been the defensive coordinator the previous five seasons and had been an assistant coach at Skowhegan since 2010. He had broken into coaching as an assistant at Nokomis Regional High School of Newport the previous year, which was Nokomis’ first varsity season.
Libby graduated from Skowhegan in 2001 after being an offensive lineman and linebacker at the school.
He graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington with a degree in education.
“It was a very difficult decision,” said Libby, who will turn 40 next month. “I love football and I love the football coaching role.
“I had planned to enter administration but I wasn’t looking outside the district. I wasn’t going to leave coaching to advance my career somewhere else. It wouldn’t have been good for my family.”
He and wife Rosemary have three daughters, Tessa, Ada and Isla, and said he wants to be able to spend more time with them. Tessa will enter her first year at Skowhegan High School in the fall and plays soccer and softball. Ada is 5 and Isla is 2.
“This will open up more evenings for me,” said Libby, who also intends to help coach his daughters.
He said the most difficult part of stepping down is leaving his players.
“The relationships and the connection with the players is so strong. We graduated 16 seniors and when you go to their graduation parties and talk to them, you realize how important that relationship is,” he said.
He had a memorable last season culminating in a state title that ended a 44-year drought.
“It is indescribable,” Libby said. “I look at a picture and it is still unbelievable. To end that drought with the group of kids we had was phenomenal.”
He added that he is pleased that he will still be able to serve his community as an assistant principal and said he may get back into coaching someday.