HEBRON – Nobody disputes that the cause of the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl is always going to be more important than the result. All proceeds benefit Shriners hospitals for children.

“It’s all for the cause. That’s what keeps me going,” said Ian Candage of Skowhegan, a linebacker for the East.

Yet it’s still a football game and both teams want to win.

Eastern Maine won last year 17-16 on a touchdown in the final minute. While the West still dominates the series 15-5, the East has won three of the last four games and feels confident.

“The coaches are telling us all about it,” said T.J. Vallee of Cony, a linebacker for the East.

Kickoff is at 4 p.m. today at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford.

“We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do,” Skowhegan offensive lineman Jared Herrin said. “Put on a show.”

Both teams will run a spread offense, and both have the athletes to keep the opposing defense guessing.

The East may have a slight advantage in depth at running back, with Lonnie Hackett of Bangor, Christian Powers of Lawrence and Josh Strickland of Leavitt. Hackett and Powers were the top two rushers in Eastern Class A last season, combining for 2,698 yards and 41 touchdowns in the regular season. Strickland helped Leavitt win the Class B state title.

Quarterbacking the East will be Ronnie Turner of Lewiston and Eric Theiss of Leavitt. Both are a threat to throw or run. Their top targets include Rick Orio of Cony, who led Eastern Class A with 11 touchdown catches last season, and Rashon Edgerton of Brunswick, who will play for the University of Maine and is a multipurpose back.

In Jackson Taylor of Windham, Nic Crutchfield of Dirigo and Steve Trask of Thornton Academy, the West has three strong-armed quarterbacks. Trask and Crutchfield also are listed at wide receiver on the West roster. Like Edgerton, Taylor will play at Maine.

The West receivers are Ryan Nason of Bonny Eagle, Jacob Alexander of Portland, Ben Foss of Oak Hill and Tim Grose of Thornton. Ryan Curit of South Portland is the only player listed as a West running back, but others will get carries.

The East hopes to attack to neutralize the West’s passing. After just a few days of practice, Shawn Bennett of Maine Central Institute was impressed with his team’s cohesiveness. “We’re pretty well-rounded,” he said.