West Coach Mike Hathaway of Leavitt shares a light moment with his team during a Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic football practice Tuesday at Foxcroft Academy. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

DOVER-FOXCROFT — The smile came quick to Coach Mike Hathaway’s face when he was asked about having Cape Elizabeth’s Nick Laughlin on his sideline for a change.

“I love having him on my side,” Hathaway said. “When you have a kid like that who you’ve coached against for a long time … to get them on your side for a change is pretty cool.”

The former adversaries are now on the same side, members of the West team for the 32nd Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic football all-star game, scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at Lewiston High.

Hathaway, the head coach at Leavitt and the West’s head coach, has spent much of the past two seasons trying to figure out ways to contain Laughlin, the multi-purpose Varsity Maine All-State receiver who was a finalist for the Fitzpatrick Trophy.

In 2021, Laughlin and Cape Elizabeth had the edge, upsetting Leavitt in the Class C South final and then rolling to the school’s first state title. This past fall, after a close win in the regular season, Leavitt dominated in the South final, winning 43-0, on its way to an undefeated Class C championship. It was one of the very few times in his career that Laughlin was held in check, gaining 37 yards on 10 carries.

“I knew he was a great coach. They always have a great game plan and when we played them this year in the regional final game, we obviously saw they had a great game plan ready for us,” Laughlin said.


Laughlin has a combination of speed, strength and football savvy that has made him a big-play threat as a receiver, runner and returner. As a senior, Laughlin rushed for 1,087 yards and 17 touchdowns, caught 57 passes for 852 yards and 10 scores and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. This fall, he’ll be on the University of Maine football team.

Hathaway said it has not been difficult deciding how to use Laughlin in the Lobster Bowl.

Cape Elizabeth’s Nick Laughlin is sandwiched between Leavitt defenders during an October 2021 game in Turner. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“You give him the ball as many times, as many ways, as you can,” Hathaway said. “Obviously he’ll be back on the return game. He’s going to catch it. He’s going to run it. Just try to get him the ball. I’m pretty well aware of what he does well.”

For coaches like Hathaway, the opportunity to coach top players from around the state is a big part of the Lobster Bowl’s allure. Hathaway said he’s coached in at least 15 Shrine all-star games. This is his third as head coach.

Hathaway’s first experience was in 2001 when he was an assistant coach at Oak Hill. Former Massabesic Coach John Morin was the head coach.

“I got to hang out with (Thornton Academy Coach) Kevin Kezal and (Bonny Eagle’s) Kevin Cooper and (former Noble coach) John Suttie for the week on the defense staff and I just had a blast, and it also just opened my eyes to the Shriners and what they can do. From the cause, to the football, to the kids, it’s all things I like to do,” Hathaway said.


And each year, the coaches come away impressed by players they previously knew little about. Players like Shea Farrell, who starred for Mt. Ararat in eight-man football.

“Boy, is he a good player,” Hathaway said of Farrell. “He’s on defense, but we’ve moved him to a few different positions and he can handle all of them. A kid with a high football IQ. He really can play, but a lot of people probably haven’t seen him unless you follow eight-man.”

LOBSTER BOWL CAPTAINS: Captains have been selected for Saturday’s game, by voting from their teammates.

For the East, quarterback Eli Soehren (Oxford Hills) and offensive lineman Jaden Geyer (Cony) are the offensive captains, and defensive back Lincoln Merrill (Oxford Hills) and lineman Zach Louvat (Oxford Hills) head the defense.

The West’s offensive captains are quarterback Jaelen Jackson (South Portland) and lineman Beau Mayo (Leavitt), with ends Brett Coburn (Leavitt) and Jacob Morris (Kennebunk) taking charge of the defense.

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