Wyatt Hathaway of Leavitt Area High School drops back to pass during Saturday’s Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl at Lewiston High School. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — The Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl has been a staple of Wyatt Hathaway’s summer pretty much his entire life. Almost every year, his father, Leavitt High football coach Mike Hathaway, volunteers to coach in the game. Young Wyatt was almost always at his father’s side, even staying in the dorm at training camp some nights.

“I’m 18 years old and I’ve probably been to 15, 16 of them,” Hathaway said.

Hathaway and the rest of the class of 2021 got their Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl moment Saturday at Don Roux Field at Lewiston High School.

It was different, as so much has been different in the 16 months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

This year, the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl was a 7-on-7 two-hand touch football tournament. Maine high school football teams played 7-on-7 last fall instead of either 11- or 8-man tackle football. There wasn’t enough time for the Shriners to organize a normal game for this year’s event. Really, after a season in which nobody in the state played tackle football, making the Lobster Bowl a 7-on-7 game was a good idea. Nobody has made a tackle in over a year.

Instead, players were divided into eight teams. They won’t take home a blue West jersey or red East jersey this season. Their souvenir will be a T-shirt. Athletes didn’t play for a region in this Lobster Bowl. They played for a color.

“I was looking forward to the game, like every teenage kid that plays football in the state of Maine. I’m just glad we can all come out here, get with all the best players in the state of Maine and play football,” Hathaway said.

These guys won’t share memories of two-a-day practices and staying in the hot dorm rooms during training camp at Foxcroft Academy. They won’t talk about bonding with that kid who was a fierce rival during the high school season, and feeling those grudges melt. The eight teams met for the first time Saturday morning, when they got together for a quick practice.

Most years, Lobster Bowl participants raise between $100,000 and $120,000 for the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts. In a typical year, athletes have three or four months from the time they are selected to when they report to training camp. This year’s event came together over the last few weeks. Despite that, players raised $16,000.

Sam Lindsey of Oak Hill High School runs a pass pattern Saturday’s Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl at Lewiston High School. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Hathaway raised a little over $500.

Whether it’s two-hand touch or in full pads, put these guys on a football field and the competitive fires are stoked. Games were played inside the 40-yard line at each end of Don Roux Field, as well as the infield of the track next door. When Hathaway completed a 35-yard pass down the middle to Tyreek Rose of Noble, then hit Rose for the winning 2-point conversion on the next play, Team Green celebrated as much as they would’ve in a regular game.

“All morning, we were talking about it. Some people may not take it that serious, but we came here to win. We all want to win. All the guys over there are just as competitive as me and the three coaches behind me,” Hathaway said, pointing over his shoulder at the Team Green coaching staff: his father, Cony head coach BL Lippert, and Bonny Eagle head coach Kevin Cooper.

One of the players catching passes from Hathaway was Robby Dorman of Dexter. The last time Dorman played in a tackle football game, he was anchoring the offensive line as Dexter’s center. Saturday, he was a sure-handed tight end, reaching behind himself to catch Hathaway’s first touchdown pass of the day. Dorman downplayed his position change.

Atticus Soehren of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School drops back to pass Saturday during the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl at Lewiston High School. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“I played tight end freshman year and got moved sophomore year. I have some experience. At a small school, you’ve got to move around a lot. I played tight end in 7-on-7, and I was going to senior year if we had a regular season, but obviously that changed,” Dorman said.

Had this been a normal Lobster Bowl, Dorman and Hathaway would have been on opposing teams. Instead, they got to be teammates, and the converted center caught passes from a state champion quarterback.

“He’s insanely good. He’s the best quarterback I’ve ever played with,” Dorman said. “It’s different, but I’m glad we’re having something.”

The patients at Shriners hospitals will be glad, too. The players in the 2021 Lobster Bowl won’t have the memories their counterparts from earlier seasons made. But they’ll share the most important Lobster Bowl memory – knowing they helped a lot of kids.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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