Chase Huckestein’s last taste of high school football couldn’t have been more rewarding.
First, the recently graduated linebacker from John Bapst of Bangor was named most valuable player for the East team that rallied past the West 17-16 in Saturday’s 20th annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic.
Huckestein had a key interception on a fake punt by the West that led to a game-tying field goal in the second half, and also was part of a defense that was able to keep West star Nate Doehler in check after the reigning Fitzpatrick Trophy winner had rushed for 124 yards in the first half.
“The whole team should get MVP because we said from Day 1 of this week that we’re not going to do this as individuals, it’s a team,” said Huckestein, who will study industrial engineering at Penn State beginning in the fall.
“In my heart, it’s really a team MVP award and I’m just honored to be chosen,” he added.
Not only was Huckestein chosen for his team’s MVP honor, he was recognized at halftime as the Class C recipient of the fourth annual John R. Schmidlin Trophy, which recognizes outstanding effort both on and off the field.
“Chase is just a special kid,” said East head coach Dan O’Connell, also Huckestein’s high school coach at John Bapst. “He’s unassuming. He never says a word, he’s the type of kid that you know when it’s time to play the game he’s going to be there.
“During the week I kept telling the coaches to stick with him because he’s going to make a big play somewhere, and when we needed a big play [Saturday] he made it.”
Other Class C finalists for the Schmidlin award, as nominated by high school football coaches, were Blake Ford of Calais-Woodland, Kash Keezer of Orono, Nate Blackwell of Lisbon and Jake Steele of Winthrop.
Jon Gilboy of Thornton Academy of Saco was the Class A recipient, edging fellow nominee Christopher Allen of Noble of North Berwick.
Justin Staires of Mountain Valley of Rumford won the Schmidlin Trophy for Class B, beating out fellow nominees Jasper Cousins of Mount Desert Island, Dan Wendell of Winslow, Ryan Jolley of Wells, Nathaniel LaVallee of Cape Elizabeth and Jamie Wallace of Morse of Bath.
Thoms relishes return
One of the happiest players to participate in Saturday’s Lobster Bowl was Brewer’s Jon Thoms.
It represented his first appearance on the gridiron since he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a game last fall against Messalonskee of Oakland.
After surgery he rehabilitated throughout the winter and spring, and returned to action for Brewer’s baseball team late in its 2009 season.
But all along Thoms’ primary motivation for returning to good health was for a return to football.
“I was completely focused on this game,” said Thoms. “I didn’t play Legion baseball this summer, I just wanted to focus on this game, to train for it, and it all paid off.”
Thoms, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker, was in on several tackles for the East, which rallied past the West in the final minute for its third victory in the last four years.
“It meant the world to play in this game,” said Thoms. “Not playing in the Bangor game last year was just terrible, I was devastated, but this definitely makes up for it. There’s nothing better than this.”
Thoms admitted his knee was a little sore after the game, but that the game and the week of pregame practices that preceded it will be of considerable benefit as he prepares to join the football team at Maine Maritime Academy this fall.
“It’s a real confidence boost,” he said.
Davis takes Central post
Curt Davis of Stetson, a former boys junior varsity basketball coach at Central of Corinth and Piscataquis Community High School of Guilford, is the new boys varsity basketball coach at Central.
Davis replaces Rick Speed, who coached the Red Devils last season.
“I’ve looked forward to this opportunity for a while,” said Davis, whose two daughters, Casey and MacKenzie, are Central graduates. “I like the administration, it’s a pretty positive environment.”
Retired from the Air National Guard but still employed by the ANG in a civilian capacity at its environmental affairs office in Bangor, Davis played his high school basketball in Michigan.
Central went 4-14 last winter, its second season in Class B after being reclassified up from Class C.
The Red Devils will return to Class C next winter, and while the competition will still be stiff, Davis believes it’s the right place for the program.
“I feel comfortable in that area,” he said. “We’re going to struggle a little bit, but what we want to do is to play fundamental basketball and begin to turn the tide. We want to work hard every night and try to be a classy program.”
Central recently finished its first summer basketball program under Davis.
“I’m pretty confident we’ve made some progress,” he said.