HEBRON – Jackson Taylor looked to his right at Stephen Martin and smiled.

He had been asked if the two had ever met on a football field.

“A couple of times,” said Taylor, starting to talk about the games between Windham High and Bonny Eagle.

No, he was told, did you two ever meet, as in a collision.

“Oh yeah,” said Taylor, the quarterback who led Windham to the Class A championship last fall. “And I was on the losing end every time.”

Windham, however, was on the winning end of the scoreboard against Martin, a linebacker for the Scots. “Doesn’t matter, I was still sore for a couple of weeks,” said Taylor.

Well, Taylor won’t have to worry about Martin causing him pain this week. The two are teammates on the West squad for the 21st annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic, to be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at Biddeford’s Waterhouse Field.

And they’re enjoying each other’s company.

“At first it was a little strange coming off the rivalry,” said Taylor, who will play at the University of Maine this fall. “But we’ve handled it pretty well, become pretty good friends.”

Besides, said Martin, the two know each other well. They’ve been playing against each other since, well, almost forever.

“We’ve known each other since the eighth grade,” said Martin, who will attend Ithaca (N.Y.) College to wrestle. “We’ve all been friends. We get along and joke around.”

That’s one of the special aspects of playing in this game, which benefits Shriners Hospitals and Burn Centers across North America. Players discover that those opponents they’ve been taught to beat aren’t all that bad.

“The people you played against during the season, you didn’t hate them, but you were a little bitter toward them,” said Steve Trask, a quarterback from Thornton Academy in Saco. “Now they’re on your team and you’re competing with them. The things that you hated while you were playing against them, now you like — like the competitiveness they play with.”

Martin and Taylor became very familiar with each other in high school. When preparing to play each other, they studied video endlessly.

“We knew we had to shut down every passing option he had, watch out for him running the ball,” said Martin.

“Stay focused all the time and try to shut him down the best you could.”

Taylor said simply, “I tried to run away from (Martin) every time.

“My game plan was wherever he goes, I tried to go the other way,” Taylor said. “And if he ran my way, fall before he hit me.

“Every film I watched, it was ‘Where’s Steve? Where’s Steve? Where’s Steve?”‘

Playing with each other, rather than against, is a special way to end their high school careers.

“It’s great,” said Martin. “You’ve got the best quarterback in the state by far. He does the job better than anyone else can. You feel real confident with the offense as long as he’s on the field.”

Taylor said, “I feel that our defense is the best when Steve’s out there. It just means someone’s getting cracked.”

For Martin, this will likely be his last competitive football game. So it holds a special place for him.

“It’s what you look forward to all year if you don’t win a state championship,” he said. “You always wonder who’s getting chosen for the Lobster Bowl.”

Taylor, meanwhile, will continue in Orono — along with Rashon Edgerton, a running back and receiver on the East squad from Brunswick who also received a scholarship to play for the Black Bears.

The two didn’t know each other before signing with UMaine but will be roommates and are already working out with the Black Bears.

They’re looking forward to the next five years.

Taylor said he wished he had been throwing to someone like Edgerton “my entire life.”

Edgerton returned the compliment, saying, “He’s someone I wish had been throwing to me my whole life. He throws a good ball, he’s accurate, a good leader.”

They’re looking forward to playing against each other.

“It’ll be fun,” said Taylor. “We’ll jab a little bit during the game. We’re going to be teammates for the next five years probably, so we’re going to have some fun.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]