DOVER-FOXCROFT — Many players in the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl get to play for their high school coach in the annual all-star game. For Luke St. Hilaire of Winthrop/Monmouth and Adam Bertrand of Maine Central Institute, that high school coach is also dad, and that makes this week’s training camp at Foxcroft Academy even more special.

“It’s pretty exciting being able to play for him one more time. Not just as my dad, but as my high school coach. It’s a cool experience being here,” Adam Bertrand said.

The annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl raises money for Shriner’s hospitals for children. This year’s game is Saturday at Thornton Academy’s Hill Stadium. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. The West won last year’s game, 55-18.

Winthrop/Monmouth coach Dave St. Hilaire said he accepted an invitation from West coach Dick Mynahan to be on the coaching staff when Luke was named to the team.

“When (Mynahan) called Luke, he called me and asked if I’d be interested in being a position coach,” St. Hilaire said.

Dave is coaching Luke and the other West defensive linemen. For most of last season, Luke was limited to playing just offense as he recovered from a knee injury.

“When I found out he was going to be coaching, it really meant a lot. He’s been coaching me since third grade, so that one last week, it means a lot,” Luke said.

Tom Bertrand said he’s honored to coach not just Adam, but former MCI standout David Young as well this week. Bertrand is coaching Adam’s position group, outside linebackers.

“I hoped he’d have the opportunity to play, and I’m glad we have both him and David (Young) here playing. Certainly something I look forward to is coaching my guys in the Lobster Bowl. It didn’t work out for Alex (Bertrand’s older son) because of the knee injury. With Adam it’s nice to be here together,” Tom said.

• • •

A highlight of Lobster Bowl training camp each year is watching former rivals become teammates and friends. That’s the case again this season.

“All these kids, you played against the whole time you’re in high school, now you’re on the same team as all of them,” said Winslow’s Ryan Fredette, an East defensive end. “You kind of hate them when you’re in high school playing against them, but now they’re on the same team and you get to know all these kids, and they’re all pretty cool.”

Added Cony wide receiver Jordan Roddy: “We’ve all bonded more than you would expect.”

Players also find there’s more to former opposing coaches yelling from the opposite sideline. Messalonskee players Austin Pelletier and Alden Balboni said it’s funny watching the reactions of their East teammates to the caustic wit of Messalonskee coach Brad Bishop, an offensive assistant coach.

“Everybody’s getting used to him. They realize what we get to go through at practice. Everybody’s been laughing and like ‘Is he like this all the time?'” Pelletier, a running back, said. “Everyone’s getting used to his jokes. He’s got something to say about literally everything.”

Added Balboni, an East linebacker: “It’s awesome seeing other players react to him.”

• • •

Another feature of training camp is the quick turnaround needed to learn the plays in time for Saturday’s game. For Skowhegan receivers Jon Bell and Cam Barnes, it’s getting to know two new quarterbacks, Edward Little’s Grant Hartley and Braden Ballard of Lawrence. Bell and Barnes are used to catching passes from great quarterbacks. Skowhegan’s Garrett McSweeney played in the Lobster Bowl last year, and Marcus Christopher is a strong candidate to earn a Lobster Bowl spot next summer.

“I’d say Grant is more like Marcus, because they ran a lot of spread down at Edward Little. Braden isn’t used to it as much because they ran that wing-T offense at Lawrence,” Bell said.

“They both have good arms, though. They can throw the ball down the field, and we’ll be ready to catch it Saturday,” Barnes said.

Ballard said he’s adjusting to the East offense, which is more wide open than he’s used to.

“We spread out the field more. We’ve got a lot of dynamic receivers. We’ve got a good running back group, too,” said Ballard, who plans to continue his football career at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

• • •

Belfast’s Konnor Harford was excited to be selected to the Lobster Bowl, especially after becoming a Shriner last summer. Harford was inducted into Bangor’s Anah Temple last summer, before his senior year at Belfast.

“It’s definitely a little more special. My dad’s been a Shriner for four years now,” Harford said. “It’s been a goal since the start of the football season. I wanted to be in the Lobster Bowl. On top of that, I wanted to be a Shriner. Not only for my dad, but for myself. I’ve always enjoyed helloing people.”

Harford will play defensive line for the East.

• • •

Colby Pinette was a leader for Nokomis last season, which culminated with the first winning season in program history and a playoff berth. Representing the Warriors in the Lobster Bowl is a great way to end his football career, Pinette said.

“I’m excited to play in the game Saturday. It’s been an honor. Since I started football in seventh grade, I’ve wanted to play in the Lobster Bowl,” Pinette said.

An East running back, Pinette expects even better things for Nokomis football in the future.

“They’ve got a lot of athletes in that upcoming senior class. I think they definitely have a chance to go all the way if they work hard and they get guys in the weight room. They didn’t lose a ton of players from last year, and it was really our first good season in Nokomis football history,” Pinette said. “Everyone’s seen the football team having fun, and that brings more guys. They’re hungry for more. They got a little bit of a taste, and I think they’re going to have a strong season.”

• • •

Many Lobster Bowl players are thrust into new positions. That’s not the case for Gardiner’s Austin Weymouth. He’s playing left guard for the West, but he’s learning a new way to play a familiar position.

Weymouth is getting a crash course in zone blocking from a two-point stance, rather than playing from a three-point stance with a man blocking assignment.

“I’m used to what we teach back in Gardiner, which is man on man. You’ve got your responsibility,” Weymouth said. I’ve always had a three point stance. It’s a really big adjustment, but it’s cool to see how line can be completely different.”

Weymouth said Gardiner assistant coach Pat Munzing, a Lobster Bowl alum, gave him some advice on the game.

“He told me a lot of cool stuff about it. He told me to have fun,” Weymouth said.

• • •

Madison standouts Sean Whalen and Evan Bess are playing on opposite sides of the ball for the West. Whalen is playing slot in the West offense, while Bess is a cornerback for the defense. As of Tuesday morning, the friends had not lined up against each other yet in practice, but they expect to.

“It’s coming later in the week. Hopefully we’ll get paired up,” Bess said.

Added Whalen: “It’s fun, because we get to represent (Madison) on both sides of the ball.”

Bess said it’s a challenge defending the West’s potent offensive players in practice.

“They’re a handful, but the thing that’s so different about this game is, you’ve got equal talent on the other side of the ball. In practice, you’ve got the best in the state going up against each other. That makes it fun,” Bess said. “The mental piece is what equalizes it. We’re all ready to compete.”

• • •

While the players prepare for Saturday’s game at Foxcroft Academy, the cheerleaders are holding training camp at Thomas College in Waterville. Cheerleaders representing central Maine schools are: Anna Castonguay (Lawrence), Danika Chartier (Gardiner), Amia Currie (Lawrence), Jenna Davis (Madison), Lauren Garand (Oak Hill), Brianna Jackson (Mt. Blue), Mikayla Palmer (Gardiner), Michaela Piatt (MCI), and Bailey Wilson (Skowhegan).

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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