Colby Furrow’s reputation preceded him upon his arrival at Foxcroft Academy for a week of practices in advance of Saturday’s 28th annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic.
Yet it wasn’t his athletic resume that immediately caught the attention of the other 90 recently graduated high school football standouts that make up this year’s East and West rosters.
That’s no slight to Furrow, a resident of Thorndike who in his only season of varsity football at Mount View High School earned second-team All-LTC honors at running back after helping the Mustangs post a 5-4 record.
Another statistic stood out even more among his football-playing peers — the $11,600 Furrow generated for the Shriners Hospitals for Children to fulfill the fundraising requirement to participate in the Lobster Bowl.
“I had a Facebook page where I broadcast how much money I had been raising along the way,” said Furrow, who will play slot receiver for the East in the game, scheduled for 4 p.m. at Hill Stadium in Saco.
“Some of the players here that I didn’t know saw the page and realized how much money I raised and came up and congratulated me. That was pretty cool.”
Furrow’s effort is believed to be a Lobster Bowl record, surpassing the $8,500 raised in 2016 by fellow Mount View alumnus Tyler Ripley that sparked an intraschool competition of sorts.
“The day after I got called about playing this year, my family sat down and family friends came in and we made plans,” said Furrow.
Those plans were designed not only to establish a new fundraising standard, but also with something more personal in mind.
“I have a distant family member who was a patient at the Shriners Hospitals,” said Furrow. “When she heard I got selected I knew I had to raise more money.”
Furrow, family and friends quickly went to work this spring organizing such fundraising events as a three-on-three basketball tournament as well as a seven-on-seven flag football tournament that also attracted four semi-pro football teams.
The bulk of Furrow’s fundraising effort was even more organic.
“Actually we made $6,000 in just bottles,” he said. “People would come to my house and drop off bottles, it was awesome.”
Those bottles and cans came from donors of all ages.
“I had little kids give me bottles,” he said. “One kid in my town was collecting bottles for his birthday party and he told me he’d rather just give me his bottles to help me raise money. That was really emotional for me and made me more dedicated to raising even more money.”
Furrow’s fundraising also was a tribute to the compassion of small-town Maine. The school district that includes Mount View is composed of 11 different Waldo County communities — Brooks, Freedom, Jackson, Knox, Liberty, Monroe, Montville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity and Waldo.
“I did not expect it to be that easy,” he said, “but everybody just got together and helped me out. It was amazing.”
With his fundraising duties now completed, Furrow is spending this week preparing for what likely will be the final game of a brief football career.
He played youth football from ages 8 to 12 but switched to soccer while in junior high school.
Furrow remained a soccer player at Mount View until being convinced by friends to play football for the Mustangs as a junior, but he never played a regular-season game that fall after suffering a broken left leg during a preseason game.
Furrow, who also stood out in basketball and baseball at Mount View, returned to the gridiron last year and emerged as one of the top touchdown scorers in the Class D North ranks while also leading the team in receiving from his tailback spot.
Furrow also played defense and was Mount View’s place-kicker, but he’s now enjoying the chance to focus on a single responsibility during the Lobster Bowl camp.
“It’s a lot easier on the head just thinking about one position rather than both offense and defense,” said Furrow, who plans to study international business and logistics at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine this fall and hopes to play for the Mariners’ basketball team. “I’m playing slot receiver so I just have to focus on my routes right now.”
Fitzy winner sidelined
Tuesday was media day at Lobster Bowl camp, with the East and West teams already four practices into their preparation for Saturday’s game amid relatively mild temperatures for mid-July.
Another practice was planned for Tuesday afternoon before the players and coaches headed off for an evening of bowling.
Three practices are scheduled for Wednesday, with two practices sandwiched around a trip to Peaks-Kenny State Park on Thursday and two more practices Friday before the teams attend the annual Shrine Lobster Bowl banquet in Bangor.
One West team member who who will be unable to play Saturday on his high school’s home field is reigning Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Mike Laverriere, a quarterback and safety from Thornton Academy in Saco.
The University of Maine recruit was scheduled for surgery Tuesday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder that not only will force him to miss the Lobster Bowl but also will leave him to redshirt for the Black Bears as a freshman this fall.