HEBRON — When you break it down, all Colin McKee really did was what all good wide receivers do. He saw an opening, and he went for it.

At the start of his junior year of high school, McKee left the Cony High School soccer team for the football team, and for the first half of that season, he practiced and learned.

“Colin really stepped up. He’s a natural football player,” Cony head coach Robby Vachon said. “He improved immensely in two years.”

McKee grew from a total neophyte to one of the top wide receivers in the state. This week, he caps his high school football career by playing for the East in the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl, the annual all-star football game played for the Shriner’s Hospitals. Kickoff is 4 p.m. Saturday at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford.

Being selected to play in the Lobster Bowl was a surprise, McKee said.

“I was shocked. Originally, I thought I made it as a kicker. Then they told me I was going to play wide receiver, and I was pretty psyched,” McKee said.

McKee led the Pine Tree Conference’s Class A division with 31 catches for 458 yards and eight touchdowns last season, earning second team all-conference honors. Kicking extra points, McKee was 21 of 24.

McKee decided to make the switch from soccer to football because most of his friends were playing football.

“Coming in, I’d played soccer my whole life, so I anticipated being mainly a kicker, and kind of using my athleticism to maybe get in at wide receiver a little bit,” McKee said. “I didn’t even touch the field the first four games. At the end of the season, I was an every other play kind of guy. I hadn’t had much experience at all.”

“It was a whole different animal for him,” Vachon said. “He kept working, and we said ‘Wow, we’ve got to give this kid a shot.’ “

When he wasn’t playing in games, McKee was learning in practice.

“I didn’t really know anything about the offense. I didn’t know what routes to run. It was pretty easy to pick up, and Coach Lip (offensive coordinator B.L. Lippert) did a great job helping me along,” McKee said.

As a senior, McKee came through when the Rams needed him. When receiver Nick Lucas was lost to an ankle injury in the first half of the first game of the season at Mt. Ararat, McKee took on a bigger role in the Rams’ offense.

“Last year, he really emerged as our top guy after Nick went down. We really needed someone to step up after the injury, and he did a great job. That’s why he’s here,” Cony quarterback Luke Duncklee, who joined McKee at the Lobster Bowl, said.

Added Vachon: “I think he was Duncklee’s go-to guy.”

At 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, McKee is never going to overwhelm defensive backs. But by running precise routes, McKee is able to get open. Cony’s spread offense was a perfect fit for his skill set.

“Obviously, I lack the height, but I think I make up for it by being a little bit shifty and having some good hands,” McKee said. “When we play teams like Skowhegan or Messalonskee, I can’t imagine the wide receivers never touching the ball, because they run it up the gut every time. Going out there knowing it’s not going to be weird, getting 10, 12 passes thrown your way is pretty awesome.”

McKee might do some kicking for the East on Saturday, and he’s been working with both quarterbacks, Duncklee and Bangor’s Joe Seccareccia, in practice.

McKee is off to the University of Miami in the fall, so the Lobster Bowl is the last football game for this late bloomer. He’d like to catch at least one more pass from Duncklee.

“It would be nice to have Dunck throwing me the ball, for sure,” McKee said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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