DOVER-FOXCROFT — Dylan Koza’s senior football season at Windham High lasted less than a quarter.

Moments after scoring a touchdown last fall in the season opener at Lewiston, the talented two-way player broke his tibia just above his left ankle. With one ill-fated step, Koza’s goal of helping Windham get back to the Class A state championship game was gone.

But one long-held goal was not lost. If he could heal well and be diligent about his rehabilitation, Koza believed he could play in the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic, the annual all-star football game. He certainly had the credentials – 928 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior with 45 tackles as a defensive back despite missing two games.

“This opportunity to be included with the best of the best was definitely something I wanted to be a part of since I was young,” he said.

Koza will complete his comeback Saturday when he pulls on his red number 25 East team jersey for the 27th annual Lobster Bowl at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford (4 p.m. kickoff).

“Dylan’s fantastic,” said East Coach Bob Sinclair of Orono. “He’s a cover corner. He’s a very bright football player and for him he gets a chance to come back.”


Koza anticipates going head-to-head against Thornton Academy’s Corey Hart. The two matched up in the Trojans’ 35-14 state championship victory over Windham in 2014, with Hart catching a touchdown pass.

Koza has a vivid reminder of the injury: a pinkie-wide, six-inch scar running from his ankle up the outside of his leg. He said the injury happened when “my foot kind of stuck in the ground and my body kept going and the momentum just broke it apart.” Koza can feel the metal plate and eight attached screws that helped the bone mend moving around. He’ll have surgery two weeks after the Lobster Bowl to have the metal removed.

The physical recovery went smoothly enough that Koza was able to be Windham’s starting right fielder in baseball this spring.

“It was a little rough in the beginning but by the end of the season I was actually able to steal bases again,” Koza said. “I was running like an old man at first.”

Any questions about whether his leg was strong enough for football have been answered in Lobster Bowl practice sessions.

“It’s definitely good,” Koza said. “It was worth it, by far. Practices are long … but it’s football. It’s just good to be back out here.”


Windham football coach Matt Perkins said as soon as Koza could move about on crutches he was attending practices last fall.

“And he isn’t out there going, ‘Oh, why me?’ He’s helping the young kids on offense and defense and doing what he can do to help the team,” Perkins said. “We as a coaching staff thought the world of him before he got hurt and his actions after the injury just confirmed that.”

Koza said getting to play in the Lobster Bowl also helped to clarify his college plans.

Koza will attend the University of Maine to study chemical engineering. He applied for and earned one of the university’s Pulp and Paper Foundation full-tuition scholarships. But even with the scholarship offer, Koza says he was still considering Worcester Polytechnic Institute because WPI has a Division III football program.

“I think I still could have been going down to WPI if it wasn’t for this game,” Koza said.

“It wouldn’t have been the right decision, really. I would have been making it based on football not on the rest of the life. I’m glad. If this game wasn’t here I’d probably be in a lot more debt. This game kind of put me on the right track for the rest of my life. This game gave me the opportunity to play one more time and get some closure on football.”

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