Highschool soccer returns to Maine in July with a 7v7 lobster bowl match
The Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic won’t be quite the same this year, but game officials hope a revamped event in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will give participants a sense of the closure of their high school football careers.
Instead of the typical east versus west battle of the best recently completed Maine football players at Thornton Academy in Saco, the organizers have pushed the organizers to one due to the coronavirus-related restrictions that forced the 2020 game to be canceled Eight-team 7 against 7 schedule tournament to be held on July 17th at Lewiston High School.
“It works well when it’s a central location, and we thought we’d have more participation from the north and the south,” said Joe Hersom, president of Lobster Bowl. “We want to involve as many people as possible.”
This year’s event will be held in one day instead of teams spending a week before the game in a training camp, which was last held in 2019 at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft.
As part of this year’s format, round robin games in two pools of four teams each start at 1 p.m., with a break that results in each team being seeded within their pool and then downplayed to a pool champion from 4 p.m.
A winners and recognition ceremony follows at 6.45 p.m. and the championship game at 7.30 p.m.
After the game was canceled last year, Lobster Bowl and Maine Football Coaches Association officials were hoping for a return to a typical tackle football competition this year. They were initially encouraged by the potential for a high school football season in late spring after the schedule for last fall was canceled as the sport was classified as high risk under community sports guidelines then in force by the state.
When the Maine Principals’ Association football committee decided on January 29 not to offer spring football because it remained a high-risk activity under community sports guidelines at the time, the Lobster Bowl organizers began considering other options.
“We were really hoping for this spring season because I think if we had the spring season they would be ready to go,” said Hersom. “We would have had a shortened training camp to give them a break, but we thought the game would probably be one of the best we have ever seen because they would come out of their season and straight into the game. We were disappointed when this news came. “
The state withdrew its community sports guidelines in late May, but that was too late for Lobster Bowl organizers to set up pre-game training camps, which they believed would have been particularly important given that none of the participants had played tackle football since 2019 .
“We didn’t want these kids to come to the Lobster Bowl and get injured and not be able to go on with what they want to do in the next chapter of their lives,” Hersom said. “We thought this might be a bigger problem than just going 7v7, but we’re excited to be doing something for them. I know it means a lot to them and their families, and we hope it gives them something to remember. “
Hersom said the roster for the eight 7v7 teams is about 90 percent full, but this pass-oriented style of football limits the number of linemen who can participate.
“What we’re going to do is reach out to all of the linemen once we’ve confirmed all of the teams, the skill players and the two linemen on each team,” said Hersom. “We’d love to recognize them at the event, they’d get the same loot as everyone else, and if they wanted to help it would be great too. Unfortunately we don’t have enough seats to get them all into one game. “
The 7-on-7 teams are headed by Alex Rotsko (Marshwood High School of South Berwick), Mike Hathaway and Bill County (Leavitt High of Turner Center), Chad Stowell (Oak Hill of Wales), Mark Soehren (Oxford Hills of South -Paris), Pat Munzing (Gardiner), Chris Kates (Lisbon) and Devin Roberts (Rumford Valley).
The Lobster Bowl also serves as a fundraiser, where attendees are typically asked to raise at least $ 500 each, and the net proceeds will be donated to the Shriners’ Hospitals for Children in Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts.
More than $ 75,000 was raised last year despite the game being canceled.
“It gave us an even greater appreciation of what this game means for the kids,” said Hersom.
No individual fundraising is required this year, but participants are encouraged to raise funds for the hospitals in the three weeks leading up to the Lobster Bowl tournament.
“We were just trying to emphasize that the hospital needs it, the patients need it, even if there is no requirement,” said Hersom. “We’re going to take what we can get and be happy with it for this year and I think we’ll be surprised how well they do.”