BIDDEFORD — Two hours before the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl kickoff Saturday at Waterhouse Field, Derek and Rebecca Maynard were in their seats at the 50-yard line.

They weren’t going to miss a second of this.

After two years of watching their son, Roderick, play junior varsity football for a Sacopee Valley High program struggling to stay alive, the Maynards couldn’t wait to see their son play with the best recently graduated high school football players in the state.

“He’s an athlete and he’ll find his niche,” Derek Maynard said. “He knows football.”

Maynard played safety for the West. And while his team often was overmatched in the East’s 58-52 victory – the highest-scoring game in the Lobster Bowl’s 27-year history – Maynard was pleased with the entire experience.

“I’ve never faced anybody super athletic like that, as far as defense goes. It was a shock to see the talent that was on the other side,” he said. “I tried to face it as best I could. I had a couple nice hits. I did what I could.”

It was an enormous step up in competition for Maynard, who spent the last two seasons trying to help keep Sacopee Valley football afloat.

In its first five seasons as a varsity program, Sacopee Valley went 0-40. As the losses mounted, participation dropped.

When Maynard was a sophomore, the Hawks were forced to forfeit two games when they didn’t have enough players to field a team.

“We actually played a game with 14 kids,” Maynard said. “I never experienced a varsity win. I never experienced what it’s like to go to the playoffs. This is the closest thing I’ve ever come to a super competitive game.”

When fewer than 20 players came out for football for Maynard’s junior year, the team scaled back from varsity and played a junior varsity schedule as it tried to rebuild.

After Maynard’s senior season, Sacopee Valley Coach Jim Walsh worked to get Maynard a spot in the Lobster Bowl.

“The way (Walsh) promoted Roderick after the season was over was incredible,” Rebecca Maynard said.

The Maynards said Roderick never became discouraged by the Hawks’ lack of success. Rather, he worked to build up his teammates.

“You know what Roderick always said? He said, ‘We’re a bunch of guys who have become a family,'” Derek Maynard said.

When he heard he was selected to the Lobster Bowl, Maynard was thrilled.

“It was eye-opening to see people notice you, no matter where you come from. You can be just as good as the next kid, even if you’re not from the strongest program,” he said.

Maynard is a talented athlete who led the Hawks to the Class C baseball title in June and was a finalist for the Dr. John Winkin Award as the state’s top high school baseball player.

Still, when he arrived at Lobster Bowl training camp at Foxcroft Academy, it was a big adjustment.

For starters, Sacopee Valley never had enough players to run double-session practices, never mind the triple sessions he faced with the West.

“It was kind of overwhelming, but I got used to it,” he said. “It was fun.”

“Everybody on our team was expected to do their job and show up for practice, and he did great,” said Stacen Doucette, the West head coach and three-time state champion at Oak Hill. “He did a great job.”

Maynard got involved in the game early.

On the East’s second drive, Maynard came from the middle of the field, running hard to his right to chase down Dane Johnson of Bangor for a tackle.

On the next play, he made a stop by pushing Cheverus receiver Dan Baker out of bounds after a catch.

In the third quarter, Maynard tackled Anthony Brunelle of Cony along the sidelines on consecutive catches.

Despite never being on the field with so much talent, Maynard kept his head.

“I kind of do my thing, whether the skill level is here,” Maynard said, holding his hand low before bringing it above his head, “or here.

“I try to do what I’ve been taught as far as football goes. I try to be the best football player I can be, on and off the field.”

In the future, Maynard will stick with baseball. He plans on playing at St. Joseph’s College next year.

He and his family are thankful for the one last chance to play football.

“When it was a probability that the (Sacopee Valley) program had to step back, we weren’t sure this was going to happen,” Derek Maynard said. “This is just great.”