DOVER-FOXCROFT — Nick Archambault was a Portland High sophomore when he set a goal for himself.

“I want to be one of the Portland kids that plays in the Lobster Bowl,” he declared.

Mind you, Archambault is a determined young man. He usually attains his goal. Case in point? In a little over a month he’ll be moving in for his freshman year at Yale.

But last fall, Archambault figured his Lobster Bowl hopes were shelved. A captain and two-way player in his senior season for the Bulldogs, Archambault tore the ACL and meniscus of his left knee during a Week 3 game at Windham. His season was over.

Portland overcame Archambault’s injury and reached its second straight Class A title game before losing to Bonny Eagle, 34-14.

Archambault did what he could, trying to inspire and coach his replacements. But he wasn’t on the field.

He wasn’t playing football.

“I missed three-quarters of the season. I had no expectations to play in (the Lobster Bowl),” Archambault said.

Windham Coach Matt Perkins, the head coach for the East team, saw things differently.

Perkins witnessed Archambault slice and bang through his defense for 59 yards in one quarter before being injured. He knew from games the previous two seasons that No. 12 for Portland was even better as a quick-reacting, hard-hitting linebacker and had been clearly considered among the state’s best in the senior class.

Portland’s Nick Archambault, representing the East in the Shrine Lobster Bowl, brings down Old Town’s TJ Crawford during practice at Foxcroft Academy on Tuesday. Kevin Bennett Photo

So when Perkins put together his roster for the 28th Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic (4 p.m. Saturday at Thornton Academy), Archambault was on the list.

“There were a couple reasons. One, he’s a special player. I never knew him as a person but as a player I’ve had nothing but respect for him,” Perkins said.

Perkins said he also remembered how much it meant to Windham running back/defensive back Dylan Koza to get a chance to play in the 2016 Lobster Bowl after missing his senior season with an injury.

“When Nick got hurt, that thought came to mind. Here’s a senior like Dylan who loves the game, is very good at the game, who deserves another shot.”

When Archambault got the call from Perkins in mid-March that he was on the Lobster Bowl roster, he was already going through physical therapy.

“I had a goal to come back for the end of baseball season and I made that happen, but when I got notified about the Lobster Bowl, that became my primary focus,” Archambault said. “I love football. I’m more of a football guy than a baseball guy. So when (Perkins) told me that, it really gave me some added motivation to get on it with the (physical therapy).”

From what Perkins had seen and Archambault had felt through the first two-plus days of Lobster Bowl practice this week at Foxcroft Academy, the injury recovery is almost complete.

“Oh, he’s a special player. He looks to be very healthy,” Perkins said at Tuesday’s media session.

Archambault said his left leg isn’t as strong as his right, but the injured knee has been stable. Weeks before reporting to training camp, he put cleats on for the first time and put himself through agility drills.

“I don’t want to jinx anything but I feel like a football player again,” he said.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Archambault will play inside linebacker for the East. He’s happy to let players like his Portland teammate and Fitzpatrick Trophy finalist, Dylan Bolduc, take care of running the ball.

“I like defense better so I’m happy with that,” Archambault said.

Archambault said he hasn’t completely ruled out the possibility of trying to play in college but doesn’t plan to pursue it as a freshman. Yale’s football coaches didn’t recruit him and another year of rehab will make his knee stronger.

“I figure if I want to play I can try to walk on as a sophomore,” Archambault said. “I want to make sure I’m fully at 100 percent, and I have some weight on me and I’m really back in football shape before I try to do anything in college.”

Therefore he’s treating the Lobster Bowl as if it’s his last football game.

“This is my last shot to go out how I want, my last high school football game,” he said. “It won’t make up for everything but it will do something to help ease the pain of not being able to play for Portland.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig