There are several types of football players at Hebron Academy this week preparing for the 21st annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic.
For the majority of the players, Saturday’s game at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford will mark their last competitive foray in the sport.
Then there are at least two players, Rashon Edgerton of Brunswick and Jackson Taylor of Windham, who will continue their careers at the Division I level as scholarship athletes at the University of Maine.
Many more will pursue a college football career at Division II or Division III programs.
Then there are the risk-takers that fall in between, like Ryan Stroud of Foxcroft Academy.
Stroud, a quarterback and safety who led the Ponies to the 2009 Eastern Maine Class C championship, probably could have found a home at one of the many Division III football programs in the region beginning this fall, but instead will take a chance of working his way into the bigger time by walking on at the University of Maine.
“It might seem risky to a lot of people who might want to be ensured a starting job, but I’ve always enjoyed that kind of challenge,” said the 6-foot, 185-pound Stroud. “When I first got to Foxcroft I was the fourth quarterback my sophomore year and I worked my way up to being second on the depth chart to eventually starting when Jamie [Nason] got hurt my junior year.”
Stroud had started to seek out Division III programs where he might continue his playing career, but late last fall an exchange of communications between himself, his high school coach and University of Maine staffers resulted in him attending the Black Bears’ recruitment day.
“It kind of took me by surprise,” he said.
Stroud — who will be playing on defense in the Lobster Bowl — will try to play quarterback at Maine. The odds are long, since the Black Bears currently have two veteran quarterbacks in Warren Smith and Chris Treister and a third, Taylor, who will join the program on scholarship this fall.
“I’ve always enjoyed a challenge like that,” said Stroud. “You can ask anyone, I try to work my hardest all the time, and I know that at Maine it’s going to be a challenge but it kind of works out because I’m going into the nursing program there and they have a very highly rated nursing program so I’m kind of getting the best of both worlds.”
And even in the best of football worlds, Stroud might not see the light of day at the University of Maine for two or three years — but that’s OK with him. It’s all part of the pursuit of a goal.
“I’m probably going to redshirt my freshman year, but I’m hoping to earn a scholarship by my sophomore or junior year,” said Stroud. “I’ve talked to my coaches and it’s very doable. I know that if I stay committed, I work hard and they see that I’m a good player I’m sure that if I don’t earn a scholarship hopefully I’ll earn a spot somewhere. I’m open to playing anywhere, but if not maybe football there is not the thing for me and I’ll just stick to nursing.”
And, of course, there’s always the football fallback option of Plan A, playing at a smaller school one day.
“If I don’t make it at the University of Maine, maybe there will be another school that has an opening at quarterback and they’ll send me in that direction, because they’re good like that,” said Stroud. “But I definitely want to play at Maine.
“It’s worth a try. I can’t turn down an opportunity like this.”