March 16, 2010

Work is done, and fun begins

RACHEL LENZI

— By

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John Patriquin/ Staff Photographer: Tuesday., July 22, 2008. Scarborough's Darren Smith on right takes a needed water break as his West team practices at Hebron Academy for the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl all-star football game this Friday night.

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John Patriquin/ Staff Photographer: Tuesday., July 22, 2008. Coach Joe Rafferty from Kennebunk shows a play to Thomas Darcy from Falmouth HS and Michael Unterkoefler from Lisbon as the West team practices at Hebron Academy for the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl all-star football game this Friday night.

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Staff Writer

HEBRON — Topher Pochebit knew it would take more than just a door-to-door effort to fulfill his financial responsibility to play in the 19th Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl.

Pochebit, who graduated from Cheverus High in June, took a thoughtful approach in raising an estimated $1,200 for Shriners Hospitals, part of the requirement to play in the annual summer football showcase. The game, to be played at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford, features 90 of state's top recently graduated high school football players.

''I sent letters out, I made phone calls to area businesses and even went to local businesses,'' said Pochebit, a defensive back who will play football and lacrosse at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. ''I wrote a letter so I could explain the cause of the Lobster Bowl before asking anyone for money. People, once they realized how great of a cause it is, they were willing to do this.''

With the emphasis on football, the aspect of fundraising is sometimes overlooked. Each Lobster Bowl participant is required to raise $300 in order to participate in the event, which includes a week-long training camp at Hebron Academy.

Dan Petruzzella, a running back from York, raised nearly $4,700, according to Jason Fuller, general chairman of the Lobster Bowl. In all, Fuller estimated that the football players and cheerleaders who will participate on Friday raised more than $63,000. Since the first Lobster Bowl in 1990, players, coaches and cheerleaders have raised more than $350,000.

''This game is really meant for the kids from the Shriners Hospital,'' explained Kyle Wedge, an offensive lineman and Bonny Eagle graduate. ''Fundraising is a big part of it. The game is more for the kids than it is just another football game, and every single kid here showed up and raised what they should and more.''

South Portland graduate James Boudreau raised more than $2,000, including a pair of $300 donations from the South Portland baseball and football boosters. Boudreau tried the traditional method of going door-to-door, asking neighbors and local businesses for pledges toward the Lobster Bowl. He also received donations from his parents, who spread the word to their coworkers.

''I'm not sure what the total amount was, but I know that it's very important,'' said Boudreau, a wide receiver. ''I think the players pay a lot of attention to the fundraising and they (the organizers) really push it. But I don't think it's been talked about much here at training camp.''

Wedge raised $450 and started his fundraising efforts with his family and friends. He also went to businesses in the Buxton, Standish and Gorham areas to ask for sponsorship and donations.

''The people I knew, knew it was for a good cause,'' said Wedge, who will study criminal justice and play football at Husson College in Bangor. ''They didn't feel obligated to donate, but they wanted to donate. I took a simple approach but I didn't wait until the last couple weeks before the (May) deadline to fundraise. Even just (donations of) 10 bucks helped.''

In these turbulent economic times, it helps to have a pitch. Justin Villacci, a running back from Gorham who will play football at the University of Maine, raised $450. He found it important to tell potential donors about those who the money benefits.

''Some people just say, 'So I'm going to sponsor you to just get a uniform?' '' Villacci explained. ''Anywhere you go, you see that a bit. But this is a week out of the summer and this is my last chance to play football before college. That's a privilege in itself. But if you talk about what we're here for and what the football game is about, people will listen.''

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

rlenzi@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

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John Patriquin/ Staff Photographer: Tuesday., July 22, 2008. Biddeford's Justin Tarbox-Toussaint catches a ball during the West team practice at Hebron Academy for the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl all-star football game this Friday night.

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John Patriquin/ Staff Photographer: Tuesday., July 22, 2008. QB Jeffrey Elliott from Massabesic HS hands the ball off during the West team practice today at Hebron Academy for the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl all-star football game this Friday night.

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John Patriquin/ Staff Photographer: Tuesday., July 22, 2008. Bonny Eagle's Kyle Wedge on right talks to QB Jeffrey Elliott as the West team practices at Hebron Academy for the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl all-star football game this Friday night.



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