Each time Alex Baker found himself thinking about the heat during training camp for the 24th annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl, he thought of who he was playing for.

“It’s a great experience doing it for the kids. I know it’s hot, but we’re doing it for the kids who would kill to be out here, even in the 90 degree heat,” Baker, of Skowhegan, said.

The Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl is a football game featuring the top recently graduated senior football players in the state. The game raises money for the Shriner’s Hospitals. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. Saturday at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford.

“It’s a bunch of great athletes. We’re all here for a cause. It’s all the best kids in the East, in the state,” Messalonskee’s Jake Stinson said. “We’re honored to be playing for kids who don’t have that chance.”

Rivalries that permeated the fall did not carry over to training camp. Former foes quickly became valuable teammates.

“I think we got all of our clashing done in the regular season,” Mt. Blue’s Chad Luker said.

Added Maranacook’s Andrew Lachance: “It’s definitely some awesome football. There’s a lot of talented guys from every class at every position.”

• • •

Winthrop’s Zach Nadeau didn’t expect to be selected to play for the West in the Lobster Bowl, so he’s relishing this chance to play one last football game.

“I thought the last game of the regular season was the end for me for football. This has really been a great point to come back and get into pads again,” Nadeau said.

Joel Stoneton, Nadeau’s coach at Winthrop, played in the game in 1993 and was head coach of the West last year. Stoneton offered Nadeau some advice on participating in the Lobster Bowl.

“He told me to keep my head up, stay confident and have a good time,” Nadeau said.

Nadeau will attend the University of Maine at Farmington, and while UMF has no football team, he’ll be trying something new.

“I’m going to play rugby,” Nadeau said. “It’s going to be a new sport to me, and I’m excited about it.”

• • •

Last year, Maranacook’s duo of Luke Emery and Ian Palmer were key players in the West’s 48-24 win. This season’s Maranacook representative, tight end Andrew Lachance, hopes to keep that Black Bear momentum going.

“Luke and Ian played last year and had a great time. I know they did a really good job in the game. Hopefully, I can represent a little bit as well,” Lachance said.

Lachance said he’s adapting to the West’s offense, which is more wide open than Maranacook’s.

“At Maranacook, we’re all about pounding the football, the power run game,” Lachance said. “(Here), there’s a lot of three wide receiver sets, one running back, one tight end.”

Lachance will continue his football career at Bates College.

• • •

Cony wide receiver Chandler Shostak and running back Brandon St. Michel are used to playing in a spread offense, but still had to adjust to the differences in the spread run by the East, which focuses more on the running game than Cony’s attack.

“It’s a little different style than Cony’s, but I like it,” Shostak said.

St. Michel, a running back with the Rams, will play more wideout in Saturday’s game.

“I’m in the slot, a little bit of split end,” St. Michel said.

• • •

Typically, a Lobster Bowl roster features two quarterbacks, who often play on alternating series during the game. This year, the East roster has just one quarterback, Mt. Blue’s Jordan Whitney. However, that doesn’t mean Whitney will take all the snaps. The East has some plays that feature Leavitt running back Brian Bedard taking some snaps.

Leavitt head coach Mike Hathaway is the East’s offensive coordinator, and Whitney said he’s enjoying learning Leavitt’s version of the spread offense.

“There’s much more, as far as play calls. There’s more reads. I like the offense a lot,” said Whitney, who threw for 1,755 yards and 29 touchdowns in helping the Cougars win the Class B state title last November.

Luker will be playing a new position in Saturday’s game, tight end. It’s a position Luker said he hasn’t played since eighth grade. A strong running back, Luker ran for five touchdowns in Mt. Blue’s 44-42 win over Marshwood in the state championship game.

“I’m glad I have a lot of pass routes, so Jordan’s throwing me the ball,” Luker said. “I’d like to run the ball more than I do, but they’re using me in short yardage situations.”

Luker will continue his football career at Springfield College, while Whitney will play at Plymouth State.

• • •

While the football players train at Hebron Academy, the cheerleaders are training at Central Maine Community College in Auburn.

Area cheerleaders from the East squad are Samantha Corson (Lawrence), Alyssa Curtis (Waterville), Carolina Kowalik (Waterville), Hannah Morgan (Gardiner) and Macey Smith (Mt. Blue).

Cheering for the West will be Shanna Cheetham (Oak Hill), Donna Nickerson (Winslow), and Kearsten Robichaud (Oak Hill).

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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