The South has captured 17 of the 24 state championship football games since the sport was expanded from three to four classes at the high school level in 2013.
The Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic experienced a different trend over that time as the East — made up of North region players — won four of the last six all-star contests entering this year’s 30th annual edition of the summertime staple.
But the South and its West region high school seniors from the 2018 season reasserted their collective strength Saturday at steamy Thornton Academy in Saco, racing out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and cruising to a record-breaking 60-14 victory over the East.
The South established a new standard for most points by a team in the Lobster Bowl, eclipsing the East’s total during its 58-52 victory over the West in 2016.
The South now leads the series 20-10.
The game’s opening kickoff was pushed back 90 minutes to 5:30 p.m. in order to help address the day’s oppressive heat, with the game-time temperature of the artificial turf at Hill Stadium reported at more than 100 degrees.
In addition, the quarters were shortened from 15 minutes to 12 minutes to reduce the game from 60 minutes to 48 minutes, officials called for periodic water breaks and players leaving the field were sprayed with water on the sidelines throughout the contest.
Reigning Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Tyler Bridge of Wells High School scored on a 36-yard run on the West’s first offensive play from scrimmage just 61 seconds into the contest. Bridge went on to rush for more than 100 yards and a game-high three touchdowns.
Tommy Springer of Marshwood High School in South Berwick passed 33 yards to Caleb Treadwell of Oak Hill of Wales to make it 14-0, then Carter Edgerton of Biddeford’s 8-yard pass to Matt Conley of Cape Elizabeth gave the West a three-touchdown lead by the end of the opening quarter.
The East got on the scoreboard early in the second period on a 59-yard touchdown pass from Leighton Girardin of Edward Little High School in Auburn to Reed Hopkins of Cony High School in Augusta.
The West countered with two more scores to extend its lead to 35-6, as Springer hit West most valuable offensive player Anthony Bracamonte of Thornton Academy with a short pass that went for a 43-yard touchdown play and Edgerton passed to Zack Sullivan of Kennebunk for an 11-yard score.
East offensive MVP Marcus Christopher of Skowhegan connected with Hyatt Smith of Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft on a 66-yard touchdown strike to draw the East within 35-14, but touchdown runs by Bridge and Will Whyte of Bonny Eagle High School in Standish gave the West a 48-14 halftime advantage.
The West capped off the scoring with a pair of third-quarter touchdowns on a 23-yard run by Bridge and a 43-yard screen pass from Edgerton to Whyte.
In addition to Bracamonte and Christopher, other Lobster Bowl MVP awards went to linebacker Tucker Buzzell of Fryeburg Academy (West defense) and defensive back Noah Bell of Mt. Blue High School in Farmington (East defense).
East head coach Dan O’Connell of John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor and West head coach Bill County, a former head coach at Lewiston High School and Leavitt Area High School in Turner Center, were named recipients of the inaugural Mike Haley Award for their contributions to the Lobster Bowl over the years.
O’Connell has coached on the East sidelines for the last 12 years, serving as head coach in both 2009 and 2019. County estimates he has been on the coaching staff for half of the game’s 30 editions.