O’Connell will coach East team in Lobster Bowl

Posted March 17, 2009, at 10:07 p.m.

John Bapst of Bangor football coach Dan O’Connell has been named head coach of the East team for the 20th annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic to be held this summer in Biddeford.

O’Connell was honored as the LTC coach of the year for the second straight season last fall after leading John Bapst to the Class C state championship.

The Crusaders finished with an 11-1 record after defeating Winthrop 21-14 in the state final to earn the program’s first state title since 1976, when John Bapst shared the crown with Marshwood of South Berwick and Jay.

O’Connell, who became John Bapst’s head coach in 2003, has a 34-26 record in six years at the Broadway school.

He served as an assistant coach with the East squad at last year’s Lobster Bowl under former Belfast coach Butch Arthers.

Joining O’Connell on the 2009 East coaching staff will be Dave Hainer of Mattanawcook Academy, Woody Moore of Rockland, Chris Preble of Stearns, Bob Sinclair of Orono, Harry McCluskey of Hampden Academy, Mike Hathaway of Leavitt of Turner Center, Mike Marston of Skowhegan and Bill County of Lewiston.

Among players who have been invited to participate on O’Connell’s East squad are Jory Tracy and Tyler Pembroke of Bangor, Travis Spencer of Belfast, Jon Thoms of Brewer, C.J. Breidt and Nate Warren of Bucksport, Blake Ford of Calais-Woodland, Andrew Lockhart of Dexter, Andrew Larson of Foxcroft Academy, Shawn Smith of Hampden Academy, Chase Huckestein and Derek Smith of John Bapst, Nate Ireland of Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, Jasper Cousins of Mount Desert Island, Tom Gogan of Old Town, Jacob Paul of Orono, David Searle of Rockland, Cory Barnett of Stearns of Millinocket and Billy Clark, Peter Boardman and Cody Williamson of Skowhegan.

Dean Plante of Old Orchard Beach will be head coach of the West squad.

One major difference in this year’s event will be the game time. Rather than the traditional Friday night contest, the 2009 Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic will be held on a Saturday, July 25, at 4 p.m. at historic Waterhouse Field in Biddeford.

Jason Fuller, athletic administrator at Lewiston High School and one of the organizers of the Lobster Bowl, said the move to a Saturday game is an effort to make it more accessible for families and other fans who must travel to Biddeford from around the state.

In recent years, the Lobster Bowl banquet was held on Wednesday night, followed by the game at 7 p.m. Friday. Under the new format, plans call for a banquet on Friday, followed by the game on Saturday afternoon.

The 4 p.m. starting time also would allow for a greater window within which to play the game in the case of inclement weather, which has delayed the start of the game at least twice in the last five years.

The first six Maine Shrine Lobster Bowls were held on Saturdays before the game was shifted to Friday night in 1996.

The West leads the series 15-4, including a 24-6 win last summer that ended the East’s modest two-game winning streak.

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