Jake Umberhind, left, and Logan Baird, from Winthrop/Monmouth, will represent the West team during the Maine ShrineLobster Bowl Classic. The players are shown during media day Tuesday at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

DOVER-FOXCROFT — It’s a game in which the result might not matter as much — but that doesn’t mean there’s no tactics and preparation behind it.

As both an all-star game that celebrates senior players and a fundraiser that benefits Shriners Hospitals for Children, the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic is less high-stakes than a football game would be in the fall. Yet coaches and players still need playbooks, assignments and the like in order for the upcoming game to be played.

There’s so little time between the first practices, which began last week, and the game itself, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at Lewiston High School. Additionally, these players have gone roughly eight months since they last played 48 minutes of competitive football against actual opposition.

“I think we’re trying to keep things as simple as possible for them,” said Foxcroft head coach Danny White, who is also the head coach of this year’s East squad. “These are some of the best players in the state, so it’s important that they can learn but also just be athletes on the field.”

The players in the Lobster Bowl come from all areas of the state and have played under a variety of different offensive and defensive schemes. Some have even spent one or two seasons playing eight-man football, a code of the game that has different parameters that can be an adjustment in terms of coming from (or returning two) the 11-man format.

With so many talented players, not everyone will have chances to play in their positions of choice. Between that and the infusion of players who often come from those varying schemes, much of the time is spent trying to establish the framework of the system.


Members of the West team line up for photos during the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic media day Tuesday at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“It’s a lot of install; you’re focusing a lot on the formations and the motions and going over some of the basic plays,” said West and Lisbon head coach Chris Kates. “It’s important to get that rhythm down because there’s just not that much turnaround time before the game.”

It can be particularly challenging for the offensive side, where it often takes a bit longer for the unit to get up to speed at the beginning of a practice cycle. For the West, at least, the defensive side of the ball has spent a lot of time helping the offense establish that flow.

“The offense goes through our playbook, and then we play for dummies as the East on defense,” said Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale’s Jake Umberhind, a defensive lineman for the West. “It’s been pretty simple defensive plays, but we’re starting to integrate a few more defensive plays and build up our book.”

Football coaches also use different terminologies when drawing up plays and overall concepts. A pattern, motion or blocking scheme that could have one meaning for one unit could be vastly different for that same unit on another team. With that in mind, coaches in this game are tasked with getting players on the same page. 

“You have a lot of things that are different, whether that’s the names, the words or the blocking assignments,” White said. “You have everybody coming in from a different way of doing things, so it’s important to keep things uniform for everybody as much as possible. … Again, you want to keep it simple.”

Members of the West team, in blue at left, along with East team members arrive at media day for the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic on Tuesday at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The same strategic concepts and assignments that always apply to football are still in place during the Lobster Bowl. Offenses must be able to recognize blitz packages, alignments and coverage schemes; defenses must identify personnel and know an offense’s tendencies in specific formations, as well as down-and-distance situations.


That often comes through watching film, a ritual that’s less relevant in a situation where players from dozens of different teams are thrust into a single set. Still, players have been given lists of a few specific things for which to be on the lookout during the game.

“We have a little bit of formation stuff to look over in our free time and kind of get more of the mental aspect of it down,” said Winslow’s Evan Bourget, who will be representing the East on defense. “We’ll be able to look out for a few things and be able to recognize them when we see it.”

With that in mind, the Lobster Bowl isn’t all fun and games for the nearly 100 players and two-dozen coaches set to participate Saturday. These veteran players are familiar with the technical side of the game, and a little more studying only adds to the real feel of their game representing their respective high schools.

“These are all kids who love football, and they’ve been asking questions and are really eager to learn and play with some new teammates,” Kates said. “This game is about more than football; everyone wants to prove themselves here. You’re seeing that in how they approach it.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.