BIDDEFORD – East meets West on Saturday as the 23rd annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl kicks off at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford.

Among the recently graduated football players taking the field will be Cape Elizabeth’s Andrew Lavellee, South Portland’s Logan Gaddar and Scarborough’s Scott Thibeault. Hailee Flaherty of Scarborough in on the West cheerleading squad. They are among the former rivals who will now don the same jersey in an effort to beat the East.

Thibeault, who will play at running back for the West, says that the chance for regional superiority will outweigh the potential awkwardness of working with past foes.

“I think at first it might be a little strange playing with kids I have fought so hard against in high school,” Thibeault said before heading to the Lobster Bowl camp. “In the end, we are all their for our similar skill level and competitiveness, so I think it should work out.”

The game, which features teams with players from across the state, donates 100 percent of the net proceeds from the game to the 22 Shrine Hospitals in North America. Participants in the game, including players and cheerleaders, are expected to raise money for the Shriners Hospitals. For the first time, participants were also able to collect online donations from their own personal Lobster Bowl web page.

The players nominated to play in the game are seniors who have recently graduated from their respective high schools. East and West teams, which arrived at the Lobster Bowl camp at Hebron Academy on Sunday for a week of practice, are made up of former rivals who will compete together in the hopes of proving their region as the powerhouse.

“I think everybody wants to go out with a win,” said Westbrook’s Terry Webber, a linebacker for the West. “Plus, you want the bragging rights of beating the East.”

Gaddar, the former Red Riot, agrees.

“The Lobster Bowl is a blast actually,” he said at Monday’s media day in Hebron. “These guys have been my rivals for the past few years. Now that we’ve graduated and are getting together to play one last game, we definitely want to win.”

Lavellee has his eyes on the prize, as well.

“It’s mostly a pride thing,” he said Monday. “We haven’t played against a lot of the kids from the East so it’s not really a rivalry. It’s about pride.”

While the bragging rights remain the ultimate prize, the building of team chemistry may be a close second. Building a team of players from the same school is tricky enough with an eclectic mix of high school personalities. To bring players together who have been competing against each other for the past four years is an entirely different story. Webber, however, plans to let bygones be bygones.

“I think now that we are on the same team those old rivalries will be forgotten, so that we can come together as a team and beat the East,” he said.

It’s actually been great,” Lavellee said. “The team has bonded real well.”

“Most of the kids I was rivals with in high school I’ve become real good friends with,” agreed Gabbar.

One thing is for sure, Thibeault – despite having mixed feelings about playing a final game without his Scarborough teammates – is preparing like he would any other.

“There is definitely a sense of urgency when it comes to the Lobster Bowl,” said Thibeault. “I am preparing for it like any other game, maybe even harder. It is impossible for me to play in a game without a sense of urgency.”

Perhaps it is this work ethic that has Webber feeling a sense of confidence heading into Saturday’s game.

“Of course I feel the West has better players with more competition,” he said. “But it’s a good matchup every year.”

On Monday, Lavellee sounded ready to hit the field.

“Being a defensive lineman,” he said, “the one thing I want to do most is hit and sack the quarterback.”

Scarborough’s Scott Thibeault
Cape Elizabeth’s Andrew Lavellee
South Portland’s Logan Gaddar