Ryan Weston was disappointed when he originally wasn’ t named to play in this year’ s Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic, scheduled tonight at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford.
For while basketball may be the former Bangor High School star’ s best sport — he earned first-team All-Maine honors from the Bangor Daily News last winter — Weston also is a formidable presence on the football field as a 6-foot-5 tight end with flanker’ s speed.
“It was something I really wanted to do, but there are a lot of good football players in the state,” he said. “I was disappointed, but somebody else probably deserved the opportunity.”
Just how much Weston wanted to play in this annual midsummer’ s clash of the best high school football players from the preceding year’ s senior class is evidenced by how he finally did join the East squad this week.
East coach Butch Arthers called several days earlier wondering if Weston was interested in filling a vacated roster spot, and he immediately grew excited about the chance to play one more high school game before heading off to Bates College in Lewiston, where he will continue both his football and basketball careers.
There was just one problem — Weston was in Honduras when his mom got the call.
Weston was busy serving a mission in that Central American country through the First Assemblies of God Church in Bangor and the Beech Springs Tabernacle in Pelzer, S.C. Songs, skits and Bible readings were the priorities of the day as he volunteered at a vacation Bible school, an experience far removed from the high-intensity, full-contact atmosphere of the football field.
If Weston was to play in the Lobster Bowl — a benevolent undertaking in its own right, given that players raise funds as part of their participation in the game, and that money is donated to the Shriners Hospitals for Children — he needed to return home quickly in order to join the East squad for its week-long training camp at Hebron Academy.
“I said I’ d love to play, but my mom didn’ t think she could get me there in time,” Weston said. “She told them that, and they said I needed to be at camp Monday morning so I wasn’ t going to be able to come.”
Weston was disappointed again, but this time just briefly.
Another roster spot opened up, and by that time Weston and his family were able to make arrangements that would get him home in time to join the Lobster Bowl camp just one day later than his teammates, on Monday morning.
So he quickly accepted and caught a flight that brought him home Sunday afternoon, allowing Weston just enough time to do laundry and catch a short night’ s sleep before one final leg of the journey, the 130-mile ride to Hebron early Monday morning.
It was time to play football.
“He was excited to get here, and I think all the kids on his team were happy for him because he had been on this roller coaster the last few days,” said Arthers.
And while the week of triple sessions has proven grueling for Weston and the rest of his Lobster Bowl brethren, there’ s likely no place else he’ d rather be — except possibly in Honduras helping others.
“At the vacation Bible school we were doing a lot of good things, letting the kids know there are people out there who do care,” Weston said. “Now I’ m down here playing football and hitting people. It’ s a big difference, but both are fun for me.”