DOVER-FOXCROFT — Last year’s Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl, a 58-52 East win, shattered the game’s scoring record. With one of the most accomplished quarterback tandems in the game’s history, don’t be surprised if the East does its part to make the annual all-star football game another shootout.

Taylor Heath of Cony and Garrett McSweeney of Skowhegan combined to throw for more than 4,300 yards and 53 touchdowns last season as the two most prolific passers in the Pine Tree Conference Class B division. Heath and McSweeney will share the quarterback duties against the West.

The 28th annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl will kick off at 4 p.m. Saturday at Thornton Academy in Saco. The game features the top recent high school graduate football players in the state and benefits Shriner’s Hospitals for Children.

The former rivals quickly came together to run the East offense, coached by Matt Friedman, McSweeney’s former coach at Skowhegan.

“We both come from a spread offense. Even in the dorm, if we can study plays and give ideas back and forth, we do. On the field, I’m watching him to see if he’d do something different than me, and I’ll apply that to what I do,” McSweeney said.

“I think we make it pretty competitive. (McSweeney) makes a good throw, so I look for an even better one. It just goes back and forth, I think,” Heath said.

Both quarterbacks displayed their abilities during the East’s Tuesday morning practice at Foxcroft Academy. After Heath squeezed a tight pass between a pair of defenders for a completion, McSweeney hit on a deep pass down the sideline.

Spending the week coaching such a talented duo is a treat for Friedman, who recently accepted a job as wide receivers coach at Husson University.

“It’s a dream for me, because it’s like having two Garretts. If I were B.L. (Lippert, Cony head coach), it would be like having two Taylors,” Friedman said. “They’re both excellent quarterbacks. They do a lot of the same things, but they also have some individual, unique talents.”

Heath is a very precise and accurate thrower, Friedman said.

“He gets the ball out quickly. He’s got a very strong arm. He’s very quick in his decision making,” Friedman said.

At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, McSweeney is the bigger of the two quarterbacks. Heath is 6-1, 175.

“Garrett might take a few more chances throwing the ball down the field,” Friedman said. “They both run the ball well, too. Between them, they’ve probably thrown the ball 3,000 times in their career. They’re not afraid to do it.”

Heath and McSweeney are surrounded by a number of skilled players. Among the East’s receivers are Mitch Jarvais of Madison, Colby Furrow of Mount View, Edward Little’s Tyler Blanchard, and Josh Buker of Maine Central Institute, who quarterbacked the Huskies to the Class D state championship last fall.

“From what I’ve seen of Josh Buker, we can put him anywhere on the field and he’s going to do well. He’s played three positions for us here this week and he’s done great at all of them,” Friedman said. “Blanchard has great hands, runs great routes.”

Friedman also is excited to coach Connor Bickford, a 6-5, 245-pound tight end from Oxford Hills.

“I’ve had a few big tight ends since I’ve been in Skowhegan. It’s great to have those guys. They add a dimension to the offense,” Friedman said.

While the East will throw a lot, the team will have to run, too. Along with the pair of mobile quarterbacks, running backs Ryland VanDecker (Oxford Hills), Dylan Bolduc (Portland) and TJ Crawford (Old Town) are keys to the East’s game plan, Friedman said.

“They all bring something different to the table. We’ve got a speedster, a workhorse and then we’ve got a guy who can do anything,’ Friedman said. “We’re going to try to be balanced. We’ve got some excellent running backs, too. Coach White (Foxcroft Academy coach Danny White) and I have kind of melded our two offenses together. But certainly, the ball will be in the air.”

As variations of the spread offense have become more prevalent in Maine high school football, the Lobster Bowl score has trended higher in recent years. Heath and McSweeney will be at the center of what they hope is another high-scoring game.

“I’m excited to play with a bunch of all-stars and great athletes,” Heath said.

Added McSweeney: “It’s just awesome to compete with everybody from around the state, from the different classes that I wouldn’t get to play with in Class B.”

Heath and McSweeney plan to continue their football careers in college, Heath at Husson, and McSweeney at Plymouth (New Hampshire) State.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @tLazarczykMTM

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