It seems Leavitt’s 7 on 7 passing league, and others like it taking place around the state this month, has replaced the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl as the unofficial start of the high school football season.

“It’s the first sign of the new season coming up,” new Cony coach B.L. Lippert said.

The event runs three nights over two weeks — July 10, 19 and 24 — at Leavitt Area High School in Turner.

Eighteen varsity and three junior varsity teams will be participating this year, according to Leavitt football coach Mike Hathaway. Among the local teams scheduled to participate besides Cony are Oak Hill, Winthrop/Monmouth and a summer co-op team consisting of Maranacook and Kents Hill School players calling themselves the Kennebec Raptors.

Teams are divided by school size into three divisions. Each team plays 10 “regular season” games over the first two nights. The third night wraps it all up with a single-elimination tournament.

“With six fields going at once, it runs pretty smoothly with 18 teams,” Hathaway said.

Last year, Hathaway said, Leavitt won Division I, Poland won Division II and Oak Hill and Dirigo tied for the Division III title.

Beyond winning games, though, the 7-on-7 gives coaches and players their first taste of what lies ahead in the fall.

“Everyone’s gearing up for the season and this is a chance to get to work on your stuff,” Hathaway said.

Coaches can get to know their personnel better, try them in new positions or roles, and experiment with different combinations during the next two weeks. For players, it’s a chance to learn the playbook, work on fundamentals and show how far they’ve progressed since last season.

This is the first time in a while that Lippert, Cony’s offensive coordinator prior to being named head coach in the spring, doesn’t know who his starting quarterback will be going into summer session. Ben Lucas and Mitchell Caron were either incumbent or the clear heir apparent over the last several years.

“We’re going to use the opportunity to test guys out,” he said. “Even though it’s not a true replication of Friday night (games), it gives us an idea of what their decision-making is in game conditions.”

Lippert said the competition for starting signal-caller duties is likely to come down to senior Anthony Brunelle and junior Taylor Heath. Both caught passes from Caron last year. Brunelle was named all-Pine Tree Conference at wide receiver, while Heath, who started the year as the JV quarterback, thrived after being promoted to starting varsity wide receiver.

Quarterbacks and their receivers will find the reps against outside competition invaluable in getting their timing and chemistry down, but they’re also important for sorting out roles in the second and third levels of the defense

“As much as it’s there for offense, it’s good to get reps on the other side of the ball, too,” Hathaway said.

By the other side of next week, coaches could have some questions answered, some new questions arise, and, as Lippert noted, some players who make strong first impressions for the 2015 season.

“There are always a couple of surprises, guys who use it as a good springboard into their junior or senior year,” he said.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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