HEBRON — It was the first football game of Zach White’s career, a preseason game against Maine Central Institute, and he was playing defensive back.

“I gave up a touchdown first play against MCI, and Coach (Matt Friedman) was like, ‘We’ll put you somewhere else.’ ” White said.

White, a Carrabec High School student, eagerly joined the Madison Area Memorial High School football team as soon as Carrabec athletes were permitted in 2009. Raw at first, White worked hard and improved, and that first play quickly became something he can joke about.

As a senior last fall, White was a captain for the Bulldogs, and his defensive play improved so much he was nominated as a defensive back to the Campbell Conference all-star team.

This week, White earned another honor, as the first Carrabec student to represent the school in the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl, the all-star football game played for the Shriner’s Hospitals. White and his teammates from the West will face the East at 4 p.m. Saturday at Biddeford’s Waterhouse Field.

“For me, it’s like a dream come true. It’s all I wanted to do,” said White, whose cousin Ryan Frederick represented Skowhegan in the Lobster Bowl in 2002.

“Besides the fact that he’s a very good athlete, Zach is a super hard worker,” Friedman said.

Playing for Madison, White learned football on the job. As a junior, he contributed by playing well on special teams, Friedman said. As a senior, White became one of Madison’s best players on both sides of the ball, at running back and back in the defensive secondary.

“As a junior, he had a tendency to come up too soon and get burned,” Friedman said. “As a senior, he really took to defense. He became one of our best tacklers. He started to become a ball hawk.”

Friedman said White excelled as a captain.

“He was the guy who helped keep the other guys focused and ready to play football,” Friedman said. “Zach wasn’t a big talker, but he showed this is what hard work can accomplish.”

White also contributed offensively. He scored a pair of touchdowns on runs of 6 and 30 yards in a 26-24 win over Freeport on Sept. 17. A tailback for the Bulldogs, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound White is learning another new position this week at Lobster Bowl training camp, wide receiver.

“I’ve never played wide receiver in my life. It’s really different,” White said.

It helps that White has two of the top quarterbacks in the state, Peter Gwilym of Cheverus and Jamie Ross of Deering, throwing him passes.

“Their spirals are right on. They know what they’re doing,” White said. “It’s very interesting to watch them.”

White hopes his success gets more Carrabec kids to go out for football. In just two years playing at Madison, he saw a rise in interest in the sport at Carrabec.

“It’s growing rapidly. It’s almost 50/50 right now, with Carrabec and Madison kids. We’ve got 25 or 30 Carrabec kids playing this year, which is good numbers,” White said.

White plans on continuing his football career at Maine Maritime Academy, where he’ll study power engineering technology.

“He’s one of those young men who realizes some of the opportunities he’s earned,” Friedman said. “I think he’s going to impress the coaches (at MMA).”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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