HEBRON — Joe Seccareccia’s return to the football field this week is serving multiple purposes.
The recent Bangor High School graduate from Eddington is among more than 80 of the state’s top players from the Class of 2011 who are at Hebron Academy participating in several days of triple-session practices before taking part in Saturday’s 22nd annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl, set for a 4 p.m. start from Biddeford’s Waterhouse Field.
The chance to help out a charity — 100 percent of the game’s net proceeds will benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children — is a major motivator for the 6-foot-6, 220-pound quarterback.
So, too, is the chance to return to competition and test his left (non-throwing) shoulder, which he injured last fall while leading Bangor to its second straight Eastern Maine Class A championship.
Seccareccia did not require surgery on his shoulder, but he sat out his senior season of hockey at Bangor to focus on rehabilitating the injury in anticipation of a college football future.
“After the season ended it was sore because the state game really killed it,” he said. “But I kept doing dumbbell presses during the offseason and I think that really helped strengthen the shoulder.”
The first few days of Lobster Bowl practices have not been without contact, something Seccareccia — also a star safety and leading tackler for Bangor during his high school days — rarely sought to avoid during his high school days.
“My shoulder’s doing great right now,” he said. “I’ve been running out of the pocket a bit and I’ve used my left shoulder to hit people and popped a couple of kids so I’m feeling good right now. I haven’t had to ice it, my shoulder’s not sore so I don’t even know if I’m going to have to wear a brace Saturday. I haven’t decided.”
That Seccareccia is back to delivering blows rather than merely absorbing them from the quarterback position comes as no surprise to at least one of his East teammates.
“I’ve always been pretty confident with Joe out there,” said University of Maine-bound wide receiver Josiah Hartley of Bangor. “Where he’s not playing any defense this week he’s going to be looking for a little more contact. He’s kind of like that.”
Seccareccia said a week of practicing the spread offense being instituted by East head coach Mike Hathaway of Leavitt Area High School in Turner will provide him an long-term benefit as he prepares to join the football program at Southern Connecticut State University, an NCAA Division II school in New Haven, Conn.
“It’s going to help me a lot because I have preseason at Southern coming up in a couple of weeks and they run the spread there,” Seccareccia said, “so I look at this as not only helping the Shriners but a chance for me to get in shape for preseason at Southern.
“Going to Bangor we played the I formation and we did a little bit of shotgun, a little bit of spread. That was just a taste of it, though, and coming here we’re doing all shotgun, there’s no going under center, and that’s what we’re going to be running at Southern so this is good, an eye opener for me.”
Seccareccia will split duty at quarterback with Luke Duncklee of Cony of Augusta as the East seeks to win the Lobster Bowl for the fifth time in the last six years after losing the first nine games in the series and 14 of the first 16.
Duncklee, the 2010 Pine Tree Conference Class A player of the year, will play both football and baseball at Colby College in Waterville beginning this fall.
“They both throw the football well, and they’re both very accurate when they throw the football,” said Hathaway of his quarterbacks. “They both are extremely intelligent and athletically gifted. They’ve got great feet and can move around, and they read coverages pretty well, so it’s been good. I think they’ve both learned a lot this week.
“The first thing that jumps out is that Joe’s a lot taller and Luke’s probably a little quicker with his feet, but Joe’s got better feet than I thought he would have, to be quite honest, and Luke’s got more arm strength than I thought he would have.”
That quarterback combination has drawn the attention of West coach Jim Aylward of Mountain Valley High School of Rumford.
“You see two, in my opinion, of the best high school quarterbacks who have played in Maine in the last few years,” Aylward said. “I’ve had an opportunity to see Luke Duncklee on film on local-access TV and he’s one tough, tough kid, and Joe is just a specimen.
“You look at their roster, and the first thing that attracts you is their quarterbacks. It’s a glamorous position and they’re both good-looking enough to be QBs, but the obvious thing for us as a coaching staff is to look at them and see that they have kids at the quarterback position who are the real deal.”
Champs well represented
The 2010 Eastern Maine championship teams boast the largest contingents of players on this year’s East Lobster Bowl squad.
Reigning EM Class B champion Leavitt leads the way with four players on the squad, offensive linemen Zachery Frost, Max Cloutier and James Morin and wide receiver Lucas Witham.
“A lot of times the offensive line play is the last thing to come around here, and you’re pretty worried about it all week,” said Hathaway. “But these guys have done pretty well early in the week and I’m lucky to have three of my linemen down here.
“Those guys have been coaching up the other linemen on blocking for the spread and I think that’s why we are where we are right now.”
Eastern A champion Bangor has three players on the team in Seccareccia, Hartley and defensive lineman Tyler Shanklin, as does Eastern C titlist Stearns of Millinocket, with Billy Eurich, Brandon McLaughlin and Charlie Tapley all playing on the defensive side of the ball after starting both ways during the Minutemen’s unbeaten run to its regional title.
“I’m hoping all three of us will get on the field on defense at the same time,” said McLaughlin, a defensive back, “so we can show the Stearns defense together one more time and have some fun and put on a show.”
Lewiston High School, which lost to Bangor 28-25 in last year’s Eastern A final, also has three players on the East roster in running back Jeff Keene, defensive lineman Elliot Chicoine and linebacker Ben Wigant, but Wigant won’t be able to play, according to Lobster Bowl athletic director Jason Fuller.
Fuller, also the athletic administrator at Lewiston High School, said Wigant has attended Lobster Bowl practices this week but is scheduled to have surgery Friday to repair several torn knee ligaments suffered during a collision on the basepaths in last month’s Eastern Maine Class A baseball final, also against Bangor. Lewiston won that game 5-4.