HEBRON – In the first team meeting for the West squad in this year’s Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic, Jim Aylward looked out at his players and took a big gulp.

“I’ve got to be honest,” said Aylward, who has coached for 21 years and led Mountain Valley to four Class B state championships since 2004, “no matter how long you’ve coached, no matter how successful you are, it’s a little intimidating.

“You know these kids are good. It’s exciting in a way because you know you’re going to have to up your game. You know you have to be at your best.”

The East will play the West again in the 22nd Lobster Bowl at 4 p.m. Saturday at Biddeford’s Waterhouse Field.

This is Aylward’s second time as head coach of the West team. He knows what to expect and lets his players know what he expects.

“Everybody’s going to play,” said Aylward. “That is rule No. 1. I’ve watched too many years when I’ve sent kids from my own school down and watched them play three plays. That’s not what this is about. You can try to win a ballgame and all these kids can play at the same time.”

Just not necessarily at the position they’re best known for.

Take Peter Gwilym, for example. The Fitzpatrick Trophy winner is probably best known as the quarterback who led Cheverus High to the Class A state championship. He’s also a pretty good defensive back. Actually, a really good defensive back, as Aylward and his staff quickly found out.

“We spend the first day looking and watching the kids move,” said Aylward. “And then we have a kid like Peter Gwilym. Peter Gwilym is an outstanding football player and we have him over on (offense) and he’s splitting time with Jamie (Ross, of Deering). He’s probably the best defensive back here. So we’ve got to take his skills and give him the best opportunity to be successful.

“And with Peter we really truly felt that his skills would be best showcased on the other side. You’ve got to give him opportunity to be successful. He’ll play a little offense, too; we’ve got some packages for him. But it was obvious to us that his best skills are on the other side of the ball.”

And for Gwilym, the move was welcome.

“I honestly feel more comfortable at defensive back,” he said. “I just feel that I’m better at it. And we have good quarterbacks on this team (Thornton Academy’s Josh Woodward joining Ross), so there’s not that much of a need for me there.”

Gwilym figures to get more playing time at defensive back as well, and that means more of a chance to make a play.

And he made plenty for the Stags — and not just in football. He also played on a Western Class A championship team in basketball and on a state championship baseball team.

But it was in football that he made his biggest mark.

As quarterback, Gwilym completed 52 of 88 passes for 763 yards and nine touchdowns. He ran 120 times for 705 yards and 13 touchdowns.

On defense, where Coach John Wolfgram called him “a linebacker masquerading as a defensive back,” Gwilym finished with 81 unassisted tackles, three forced fumbles and five interceptions.

His 106-yard interception return for a touchdown sparked the Stags past Deering in the Western Class A final.

The 6-foot-1 Gwilym will attend Ohio State, the Big 10 power that has been wracked by NCAA violations, where he will attempt to make the Buckeyes as a walk-on.

The staff there will play him at slot receiver, a reflection of his athletic talent.

“They saw some film and felt that’s where I would fit best,” he said.

And Gwilym, who began as a wide receiver at Cheverus before Wolfgram moved him to quarterback, is looking forward to a new challenge.

“I’m going in with a can’t-lose attitude,” he said.

“I don’t think many people are expecting me to make it. So if I do, it will be a shock. If I don’t, oh well.”

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

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH