BIDDEFORD, Maine – The immediate aftermath of the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic often is not so much about the game just concluded, but more about the realization that most of the participants will never have another competitive experience like this again.
For the majority there will be no more donning of shoulder pads or tackling opponents — the annual gathering at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford marks their final game before embarking on the next phase of their lives.
And the weeklong training camp that leads up to the game represents one last chance to bond with athletes of like-minded passion for the sport, creating memories to last a lifetime.
“The week started off just getting to know everybody, and by the end of it we had come together as a team,” said East linebacker Ellis Throckmorton of Bangor after the West’s 48-24 victory in the game’s 23rd edition Saturday. “It’s all for a good cause so it really doesn’t matter what the outcome is, but I love everyone of these guys, and it’s sad to see this week go by so fast.”
Net proceeds from the contest — including a record $73,000 raised by the players and cheerleaders involved — benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
“I’ll never forget this, for sure,” said East most valuable player Sam Dexter, a wide receiver from Messalonskee of Oakland. “The friendships you make are just incredible. The whole week itself is life changing, and this game is for such a great cause. Of course we want to win, but I had a lot of fun.”
The East jumped out to a 16-6 lead early in the second quarter on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Hersom of Leavitt of Turner Center to Dexter and a 1-yard scoring run by Lewiston’s Jeff Turcotte.
But the West took control of the game along the line of scrimmage, with interior linemen Andrew Lavallee of Cape Elizabeth, Curtis LaBelle of Bonny Eagle of Standish and Luke Emery of Maranacook of Readfield recording four of their team’s six quarterback sacks during the final 10 minutes of the first half.
That slowed the East offense, enabling the West to answer with 26 consecutive points and outscore the East 42-8 the rest of the way.
“We were trailing and we needed to step it up, and I think that’s what we did,” said Lavallee, a 300-pound nose tackle who will play collegiate football at Assumption. “We got some pressure on the quarterback and started dominating the offensive line, which is what we planned on doing all week.”
The win was the second straight for the West in the game that matches the top seniors from the previous high school football season, and extended the West’s lead in the series to 17-6.
This marked the third highest-scoring game in Lobster Bowl history, trailing only the East’s 40-35 victory in 2010 and 47-27 win in 2007.
The West amassed 543 yards of total offense while compiling the most points by a team in Lobster Bowl history.
The East had 432 total yards but was hurt by six turnovers, compared to five by the West.
“They capitalized better on their chances,” said Dexter. “We had our chances, for sure, but we had some long drives that were ended by turnovers and they did a good job when they had their chances.”
Paul McDonough of Wells passed for two touchdowns and rushed for a third to lead the West offense.
McDonough, who quarterbacked Wells High School to the 2011 Class B state championship, completed 6 of 15 passes for 148 yards, including touchdown strikes of 26 yards to Troy Pappas of Marshwood of South Berwick and 51 yards to Matt Burrell of Bonny Eagle to cap off a run of three straight second-quarter scores that gave the West a 26-16 halftime lead.
The West extended its lead to 32-16 early in the third quarter when Cam Olson of Cheverus of Portland hit Cam Cooper of Bonny Eagle with an 8-yard touchdown pass.
Brewer’s Anthony Jackson ran around right end 9 yards for a score with 17.1 seconds left in the period and Turcotte followed with a two-point conversion run to cut the East’s deficit to 32-24.
But McDonough added a 1-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter to give the West a 40-24 lead, and Spencer Cooke of Cheverus added a 36-yard touchdown run with 3:12 remaining.
Cooke, who teamed with Olson to lead Cheverus to the 2011 Class A state championship, was named the West’s most valuable player after rushing for 113 yards on 14 carries. Olson completed 10 of 25 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 81 yards and another score on eight carries.
Jack Cooleen, a 6-foot-5 wide receiver from Falmouth, had four pass receptions for 90 yards while Scott Thibeault of Scarborough added a rushing touchdown for the West.
Dexter had nine pass receptions for 96 yards, while quarterback Deven Romain of John Bapst of Bangor completed 11 of 29 passes for 189 yards and Hersom connected on 7 of 15 passes for 86 yards.
Turcotte led the East rushers with 56 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Skowhegan’s Ethan Johnson had two of the East’s four pass interceptions.
“Honestly this was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” said Lavallee. “I’ve got a lot of friends now with guys I never thought I’d be friends with. I’m glad I did this.”