HEBRON — Old rivalries melt away quickly on the Hebron Academy campus. Year after year, it never takes very long for teams to come together during training camp for the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl, especially when they know they’re playing football for a special cause.

“From day one, we’ve been a whole squad. We hang out together every day. We’re a tight-knit squad. It’s like I’ve known them forever. It meshed real easy,” Messalonskee High School graduate Devin Warren, a wide receiver on the East team, said. “This is for a cause, and that’s the main goal. We want to have a good clean game and give everybody a show.”

The 25th annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl will kick off at 6 Saturday night at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford. The West leads the series 17-7 but the East has been strong in recent years, winning five of the last eight games.

As in recent years, each team will run a spread offense. The three top-scoring games in Lobster Bowl history have all come since 2007, and with so much talent on each roster the potential is there for another shootout.

“It’s so fun seeing everyone successful. Everyone was the best on their team, and it’s really fun to see the talent we have,” said D.J. Allen, a wide receiver from Skowhegan.

The East offense is led by quarterbacks Ben Lucas, of Cony, and Matt Martin, of Hampden. Lucas led the Rams to the Class B state title in 2013, and won the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy as the state’s top football player. Martin was among the top passers in the Pine Tree Conference.

Along with Allen and Warren, the East’s receivers include Jonathan Saban, of Cony, Greg Clark, of Belfast, Fred MacLean, of Washington Academy, Josh Gray, of Bucksport, Noah Stebbins, of Cheverus, and Ronald Hargrove, of Portland.

“I’ve never practiced this hard. I’ve never seen this type of difficulty, because everyone’s here for a reason. All these guys are great players. All these guys have the heart for it. Every single one of these guys goes as hard as he can. I’m not used to that. It’s a good experience,” Hargrove said.

Among the players on the offensive line for the East are Kyle McLain, of Lawrence, Christopher Spaulding, of Mt. View, and Cony teammates Nic Benner and Isaac Gingras.

“You’ve got to be quick on your feet, get to your zone and make the plays. Sometimes they’re going to score. It’s OK. Regroup,” said Winthrop linebacker Zach Glazier, one of the West defenders who will have to try to slow the East offense down. Glazier and his defensive teammates shouldn’t be too concerned, though. The West offense has plenty of weapons, too.

Thornton Academy running back Andrew Libby can and will be used in a number of positions by the West. Prior to a season-ending knee injury in week one of the 2013 season the UMass-bound Libby was considered by many to be the top high school football player in the state. He’s made an impression on his West teammates.

“He’s just a great player and a greater teammate,” said Oak Hill defensive end Luke Washburn, who won the Frank Gaziano Award as the top defensive lineman in the state last season.

Joining Libby in the backfield is Fitzpatrick candidate Nicco DeLorenzo, of Kennebunk, Nick Emmons, of Kennebunk, and South Portland’s Duncan Preston will quarterback the West, with Leavitt’s Nate Coombs an all-purpose threat.

Maranacook’s Adam Betts and Bayley Bealieu, of Oak Hill, are on the West offensive line. Brandon Goff, of Monmouth, joins Glazier and Washburn on the West defense.

Mt. Blue’s Colin Richards Maine Central Institute’s Briar Bussell and Clint Spaulding, of Mt. View, anchor the East defense at defensive tackle. Joining them up front are ends Rusty Wilson, of Nokomis, and Zach Guptill, of Winslow. East linebackers include Jeff Minchin, of Gardiner, Luke Knight, of Waterville, and Chris Hayden, of Madison. Waterville’s Troy Gurski will play cornerback.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.