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 Bradley Jackson, also from Mt. Blue: “We’re all here for the same purpose.”

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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.

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Waterville offensive lineman Tom Cox said he sprained his ankle on the first day of camp, and he hasn’t practiced since. Cox is undergoing physical therapy and hopes to be able to play Saturday.

“It’s still a great experience out here. I’m still having a blast,” Cox said. “I’m just glad that I’m out here doing it.”

Cox said learning the East’s spread offense hasn’t been too difficult, despite some big adjustments.

“It’s a little different, coming out of a two-point stance, rather than the typical three that I’m used to. We’re working hard, looking at playbooks every night,” Cox said.

Cox plans on playing football at Maine Maritime Academy this fall.

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Only a few players in the short history of Mt. View football have represented the school in the Lobster Bowl. Rick Moulton is proud to be the latest Mustang to appear in the game, and was humbled to be among the top football players in the state.

“It’s crazy to think I’ve been chosen to play with them. Coming here, to actually get to play with them, it’s an honor,” Moulton said.

A center and linebacker at Mt. View, Moulton is learning to play defensive tackle this week, and gave the East coaching staff credit for making it a smooth transition.

“You just do what they tell you to do,” Moulton said. “It’s a common sense position. It’s a lot of fun.”

* * *

Lawrence graduate Spencer Carey spent the last two weeks working out with his future teammates at the University of Maine.

“It’s a big change. It’s going to take some time to get used to, but I’m with other guys who went through it,” Carey said.

Carey is playing safety for the East in Saturday’s game, the position he expects to play for the Black Bears.

Maine opens training camp Aug. 4.

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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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