On hot days in the future, they’ll say, “It’s hot, but not as hot as the day they played the Lobster Bowl in 2019.”

So when players exchanged a brief series of punches late in the second quarter, was that the heat of competition boiling over, or the hottest day of the Maine summer shortening tempers?

The 30th Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl was scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m. Saturday at Thornton Academy in Saco. With a forecast calling for the temperature to approach 100 degrees, the Shriners pushed the start to 5:30 p.m.

It didn’t matter. After absorbing the day’s heat, the field at Hill Stadium was still a kiln.

Artificial turf is wonderful in a lot of ways. It doesn’t get torn into clumps of mud and sod by cleats when it gets wet. If it snows in October or November – not an unusual occurrence in Maine – the field can be plowed and games can go on without a hitch.

What artificial turf also does very well is absorb heat. On days like Saturday, it soaks in the heat and becomes a 100-yard long radiator.


Anyone standing on the field could feel the heat penetrating through their shoes.

Officials were given wide latitude to stop the game for water breaks. The first one came with 2:12 left in the first quarter. Coming off the field, players waited in line for trainers to spray them down with a hose.

At 2 p.m., the temperature on the field was 123 degrees, said Joe Hersom, president of the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl. With that in mind, the decision was made to play 12-minute quarters rather than 15. Players were told to take part in the pregame introductions without helmets and shoulder pads.

At kickoff, the field had cooled to a relatively soothing 107.

Social media being what it is, there was criticism about playing the game as scheduled. Some wondered why it wasn’t scheduled for a Friday night. Some wondered why the game wasn’t postponed or canceled, as if nobody had ever attempted to do anything on a hot day before.

The players were ready. Few were asked to play both ways like they might in a regular high school game. If ever there were a game suited for an extremely hot day, it was the Lobster Bowl.


That said, by the second quarter, it was obvious the heat was a factor. Big plays by both teams (but more from the West, which built a gaudy 48-14 halftime lead) could be attributed to physical and mental fatigue.

A short pass from Marshwood’s Tommy Springer to Thornton Academy’s Anthony Bracamonte went for a long touchdown because a defender is late setting the edge. A West defender bit on a fake from Skowhegan quarterback Marcus Christopher and couldn’t recover, leaving Foxcroft Academy’s Hyatt Smith wide open.

It was hot. The game went on. The Lobster Bowl’s motto is “Strong legs run so weak legs can walk.”

That’s why, when the heat may have seemed unbearable, the best high school football players in Maine stood in front of a hose, strapped on their helmets and went back onto the field.

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