Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Jack Mallis of Windham and nine other semifinalists for that award highlight the rosters for the 21st annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic to be played July 24 at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford.
Mallis, who led Windham to the 2009 Class A state championship, will play on the West roster along with Fitzy finalist Nic Crutchfield from Class C state champion Dirigo of Dixfield.
The third finalist, Lonnie Hackett of Eastern Maine Class A champion Bangor, will be a running back on the East roster. He’ll be joined by Rams’ offensive lineman Joey Quinn and defensive tackle Tom Augustine.
The Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic matches 44 of the top graduated senior players from the East against a 44-player roster of West all-stars, with proceeds from the event benefiting the Shrine Hospitals for Children.
Other semifinalists for the Fitzpatrick Trophy — symbolic of the state’s top senior high school football player — on the East squad are Eric Theiss of Class B state champion Leavitt of Turner Center, Billy Weatherbee of John Bapst of Bangor, Ryan Stroud of Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft, Christian Powers of Lawrence of Fairfield and Ryan Backus of Mt. Blue of Farmington.
Joining Mallis and Crutchfield on the West roster are Fitzy semifinalists Ryan Curit of South Portland and Steve Trask of Thornton Academy of Saco.
Trask, Crutchfield and Jackson Taylor of Windham are listed as quarterbacks on the West roster, while Theiss and Ronnie Turner of Lewiston are the quarterbacks on the East’s initial roster.
Bill County of Lewiston will coach the East squad, assisted by Dan O’Connell of John Bapst, Mike Marston of Skowhegan, Mike Hathaway of Leavitt, Wes Littlefield of Messalonskee of Oakland, Dan Cooper and Greg Nadeau of Brunswick, Rob Vachon of Cony of Augusta and former Edward Little of Auburn coach Darren Hartley.
Kevin Cooper of Bonny Eagle of Standish will coach the West squad, assisted by Matt Perkins of Windham, John Suttie of Bony Eagle, Steve Stinson of South Portland, Scott Descoteaux of Biddeford, John Caverly of Marshwood of Eliot, Brad Bishop of Livermore Falls, Bangor native Jeff Guerrette of Westbrook and Aaron Fileo of Cape Elizabeth.
The teams will gather July 18 at Hebron Academy for a week of pregame workouts in preparation for the Lobster Bowl.
The West leads the series 15-5, but the East has won three of the last four meetings, including a 17-16 victory last summer.
Ticket prices for Maine Principals’ Association-sponsored championship sporting events will remain the same for the seventh straight year beginning next fall.
This winter, Maine Principals’ Association executive director Dick Durost had floated a proposal that could have increased single-session tournament tickets and championship-game entry fee for other sports from $7 to $8 for adults and from $4 to $5 for students.
That proposal, meant for the consideration of the MPA membership, came in the aftermath of two straight years of heavy financial losses for the organization’s interscholastic division, which sponsors championship competitions in approximately 20 activities ranging from football and basketball to debate and speech.
Expenses outweighed revenues by some $206,000 two years ago and by $214,000 last year, Durost said, forcing the MPA to dig deep into its reserve fund to make up the differences.
Those tough times were in part due to the struggling economy, but also because of decreased attendance at the annual high school basketball tournament, one of the MPA’s primary revenue sources.
“We depend on basketball to be a real leader for us,” said Durost.
Increasing ticket prices was seen as one way to enable the private, nonprofit organization to keep pace with escalating costs, but ultimately the MPA opted to maintain the status quo.
“We haven’t raised ticket prices since the 2003-04 school year,” said Durost. “There was a good discussion about whether we might have to do that for next year, just like there was a discussion last year.
“But in the end, the economic climate is still tough, and the membership decided it didn’t want to make the events more difficult for people to attend, so they decided to hold the line for another year.”
The MPA did gain a financial boost from turnout at this year’s high school regional basketball tournaments. Attendance at tourney locales in Bangor, Augusta and Portland increased by a combined 11,530 over the previous winter, with 93,814 turning out in 2010 compared to 82,284 in 2009.
The increase was particularly noticeable at the Bangor Auditorium, where the 2010 Eastern Maine Classes B, C and D basketball tournament was marked by its highest attendance in eight years. The eight-day event drew 40,436, up markedly from last year’s 33,226 and the highest since 44,166 turned out for the 2002 tournament.
This year’s big turnout marked the second straight year of increased crowds since the low point of recent times, 32,577 in 2008.
“We had unusually good weather, and evidently there were good matchups that people were interested in,” said Durost.
Durost said tournament officials also theorized that given the challenging economic climate some people may have forsaken more expensive trips during February’s school vacation week when the regional tournaments are held and opted instead to stay closer to home and attend some of the basketball games.
Turnout at tourney sites in Augusta and Portland showed more modest increases from a year ago.
For the Eastern A and Western C and D tournaments at the Augusta Civic Center, attendance was 27,693 this year, 533 more than the 27,160 who turned out in 2009.
For the Western A and B tournaments at the Portland Expo and the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, attendance totaled 25,685 in 2010 compared to 21,898 a year earlier for a one-year increase of 3,787.