BIDDEFORD — Two hours before kickoff of the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl, Derek and Rebecca Maynard were in their seats at the 50-yard line of Waterhouse Field. They weren’t going to miss a second of this.

After two years of watching their son, Roderick, play junior varsity football for a Sacopee Valley High School program struggling to stay alive, the Maynards couldn’t wait to see what Roderick did playing amongst the best high school football players in the state.

“He’s an athlete, and he’ll find his niche,” Derek Maynard said. “He knows football.”

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Maynard played safety for the West squad. And while the West was often overmatched in the East’s 58-52 win, the highest scoring Lobster Bowl in the 27-year history of the game, Maynard was pleased with the entire experience.

“I’ve never faced anybody super athletic like that, as far as defense goes. It was a shock to see the talent that was on the other side. I tried to face it as best I could. I had a couple nice hits. I did what I could,” Maynard said.

It was an enormous step up in competition for Maynard, who spent the last two seasons of his high school football career trying to help keep Sacopee Valley football afloat.

In it’s first five seasons as a varsity program, Sacopee Valley went 0-40. As the losses mounted, participation dropped. When Maynard was a sophomore, the Hawks were forced to forfeit a pair of games when they didn’t have enough players to field a team.

“We actually played a game with 14 kids,” Maynard said. “I never experienced a varsity win. I never experienced what it’s like to go to playoffs. This is the closest thing I’ve ever come to a super competitive game.”

When fewer than 20 players came out for football Maynard’s junior year, the team scaled back from varsity and played a junior varsity schedule as it tried to rebuild. After Maynard’s senior season, Sacopee Valley coach Jim Walsh worked to get Maynard a spot in the Lobster Bowl.

“The way (Walsh) promoted Roderick after the season was over was incredible,” Rebecca Maynard said.

The Maynards said Roderick never became discouraged by the Hawks’ lack of success. Rather, he worked to build up his teammates.

“You know what Roderick always said? He said ‘We’re a bunch of guys who have become a family,'” Derek Maynard said.

When he heard he had been selected to the Lobster Bowl, Maynard was thrilled.

“It was eye opening to see people notice you, no matter where you come from. You can be just as good as the next kid, even if you’re not from the strongest program,” Maynard said.

Maynard is a talented athlete, who led the Hawks to the Class C baseball title in June and was a finalist for the Dr. John Winkin Award as the state’s top high school baseball player. Still, when he arrived at Lobster Bowl training camp at Foxcroft Academy, it was a big adjustment. For starters, Sacopee Valley never had enough players to run double session practice, never mind the triple sessions he faced with the West.

“It was kind of overwhleming, but I got used to it. It was fun,” he said.

“Everybody on our team was expected to do their job, and show up for practice, and he did great. Each practice, he really improved. He did a great job,” West head coach Stacen Doucette, head coach at three-time Class D state champion Oak Hill, said.

Maynard played safety, and got involved in the game early in the first quarter. On the East’s second drive, Maynard came from the middle of the field, running hard to his right to chase down Bangor’s Dane Johnson for a tackle. On the next play, he made a stop by pushing Cheverus receiver Dan Baker out of bounds on a catch.

In the third quarter, Maynard made tackles of Cony’s Anthony Brunelle along the sidelines on consecutive catches.

Despite never being on the field with so much talent, Maynard kept his head.

“I kind of do my thing, whether the skill level is here,” Maynard said, holding his hand below his waist, before bringing it above his head, “or here. I try to do what I’ve been taught as far as football goes. I try to be the best football player I can be, on and off the field.”

In the future, Maynard will stick with baseball, and plans on playing at St. Joseph’s College next year. He and his family are thankful for one last chance to play football.

“When it was a probability that the (Sacopee Valley) program had to step back, we weren’t sure this was going to happen,” Derek Maynard said. “This is just great.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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