LEWISTON — Maine’s best graduated high school football players put on an offensive show in the first half Saturday as the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic returned in earnest for the first time since 2019.

Then the West defense did its thing.

With the East driving to potentially go ahead by two scores early in the fourth quarter, Leavitt’s Hunter Hayes stripped the ball free at the 10 and raced 90 yards for the final score in the West’s 40-35 victory at Lewiston High.

“My teammates wrapped him up and I got in their late and just pulled on the ball,” Hayes said. “I ripped at it, and usually it doesn’t pop out, but this time it did and I took it. I just ran it back and got a few good blocks from my teammates.”

Hayes, named the West MVP, was also the leading money raiser for the game that benefits Shrine Hospitals, with nearly $7,500 in pledged donations.

Hayes’ father, Leavitt assistant coach Mike Marston, was one of the assistants for the West.


“I’ve been coming to this game since I was little, so I understand the importance of raising money for the Shriners. It was finally time for me to play in it and I had a lot of fun.”

At halftime, the 2022 Lobster Bowl was on a similar pace to the all-time combined score shootout in 2016, when the East won 58-52 at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford.

The East led 29-28 behind TD runs of 56 yards and 1 yard by Marcus Hampton of Skowhegan and a halfback pass by Hampton to Ashton Dennett of Cony. Dennett also caught a 40-yard strike from Will Ledbetter of Windham (12 of 19, 120 yards), who split time with Foxcroft Academy’s Austin Seavey (7 of 11, 75 yards).

The West trailed 29-13 late in the first half after the Hampton-to-Dennett touchdown, but responded with two lightning strikes. Keegan Andrews of Kennebunk threw a deep slant to Ryan Bannister of Gardiner that Bannister turned into a 71-yard TD. Then, after an interception by Hayes that he returned 22 yards, Andrews got a quick screen to former Class B South rival Cam Cornett of Marshwood. Cornett broke tackles, cut against the grain and was helped by a downfield block from Hayden Henriksen of York on the way to a 30-yard score with 47 seconds left in the half.

“Cam made a great play and he just did what Cam does,” Andrews said. “Right after that, I said to him, ‘it felt better you doing that for me than against me.’ ”

Andrews, who was invited to join the team on June 12, played the whole game at quarterback for the West, completing 14 of 21 passes for 287 yards and three scores.


Andrews came out firing in the second half with a 21-yard pass to Cornett and a 39-yard bomb that Ryan Thurber of South Portland, secured with a tough catch. On the next play, Henriksen (18 carrries, 85 yards, two touchdowns) bulled in for the 2, and the West led, 34-29.

The East regained the lead on Hampton’s third rushing touchdown, from the 1.

Henriksen promptly fumbled on the West’s next play, setting up the East at the West 19. Three plays later, Hayes was racing the other way for his touchdown.

The West defense, led by lineman Thomas Horton of Bonny Eagle, came up with three fourth-down stops in the fourth quarter – including one inside their own 10 with 7:16 to play.

The Lobster Bowl was canceled because of COVID-19 in 2020. Last year, after the canceled 2020 high school tackle football season, the Shriners opted to hold a modified seven-on-seven tournament.

This was the first time players from eight-man teams participated in the 60-minute tackle game, with nearly 20 on the two rosters. Several acquitted themselves well, including West running back Kaiden Getchell of Mt. Ararat, East back Hunter Norton of Camden Hills and West starting lineman Elliot Douglass of Mt. Ararat.


Hampton won the East MVP after gaining 157 yards on 37 rushes and throwing the TD pass. He also caught three passes.

“They told me they wanted to get me the ball. We had a really good offensive line, so it was easy,” Hampton said.

Staff writer Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this story.

UPDATE: This story was updated at 11:05 a.m. on July 17 with the correct name of Cony’s Ashton Dennett.

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