End of an Era: Bucksport High School Football Coach Joel Sankey Steps Down

Bucksport High School is bidding farewell to its most successful head football coach, Joel Sankey, as he retires before the 2023 season. Sankey has been a key figure in the program since the late 1970s and became the full-time head coach in the early 1990s.

Last year, the Golden Bucks made impressive strides, posting a 3-2 regional record and securing a playoff spot in their debut season as an 8-man football team. Despite this success, Sankey believes it’s the right moment for him to step back.

Joel Sankey, the long-serving head coach of the Bucksport football team, is retiring after many years of leadership. Sean Geagan, who has been Sankey’s assistant since the 1990s, will take over the top position.

The decision to step down comes as 75-year-old Sankey considers the impact of age on his coaching abilities.

“It’s a great opportunity for me, obviously, and I’m looking forward to working with the kids of Bucksport and really developing them for lifelong challenges,” Geagan said. “The game of football is a great game and it’s about life experiences and putting them out in the real world and hopefully they survive due in part to what they’ve learned with Bucksport football.”

As an assistant coach, Geagan has made it a priority to absorb as much knowledge as possible from Sankey.

“Obviously it’s big big shoes to fill and I probably won’t fill them,” said Geagan, who has wanted to become a head football coach for as long as he can remember. “Working with him for 20 years, he’s a genius in football. I have tried to learn from him but he’s so smart it’s hard to keep up with him. His brain on offense is incredible.”

Sankey will undoubtedly miss the daily interactions with his assistants during football season, the Sunday film sessions with his coaching team, and the cherished Thursday night dinners with the players.

“There’s nothing like a Friday night in Bucksport,” Sankey said. “The parents and fans were so supportive, and the Thursday night meals, I’ll miss all of it.”

The Evolution of Sankey’s Coaching Career

Sankey’s coaching journey began in the 1970s as an assistant coach. Initially working with Bucksport, he later joined Bruce Morse at Maine Maritime Academy, followed by a stint at Bangor High School, before ultimately returning to Bucksport. Through these experiences, Sankey discovered the critical role assistant coaches play in a team’s success.

Sankey started his tenure as head coach in 1994, and during his time, he led the team to a Class C state championship victory in 2004, defeating Jay 42-20. The Golden Bucks also made it to the Class C state games in 2001 and 2011, and the Class D state championship games in 2013 and 2019. Sankey is the winningest coach in Bucksport football history.

“One of the things I learned from being the assistant coach is that head coaches that give assistant coaches responsibilities, it all works much better,” Geagan said.

Geagan enjoys Sankey’s full endorsement and believes that Bucksport will thrive under his guidance. Meanwhile, Sankey is looking forward to spending more time on the golf course. He intends to play daily at Bangor Municipal Golf Course, where he holds a membership.

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