Sean Daigle wrote “Big” on the left eye black strip and “Show” on the other.

The big Edward Little tight end knew exactly what the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl means to he and his fellow high school football players. It is indeed the Big Show. But even Daigle couldn’t have imagined that he and EL teammate Cody Goddard would have leading roles and be responsible for the climax of the Big Show.

“Cody’s pretty much been a brother of mine,” Daigle said shortly after he hauled in an eight-yard TD pass from Goddard with 36 seconds left to win Saturday’s Lobster Bowl. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world. This is the best of the best, and it’s the best feeling in the world to make the winning catch.”

This was the 20th edition for the Lobster Bowl and perhaps the most thrilling. Goddard threw two touchdown passes in the second half to lead the East to dramatic come-from-behind 17-16 win. There are a lot people in Auburn smiling today. Anyone who has followed the ups and downs of the last 12 months of his life can’t help but be happy for him.

Goddard and Daigle aren’t the only ones who should be proud of themselves today. All of the players and cheerleaders who participate who participated deserve a pat on the back, not just for a great game but for helping a most worthy cause with their fundraising and their time.

Over the last two decades, the Lobster Bowl has put on some great and some not-so-great shows for the fans. The West has dominated the game, winning the first nine and 12 of the first 13. Some observers once used this to argue the West’s vast football superiority. Then the East crushed the West, 55-8, in 2003, and won three out of five, and most of that talk subsided, or at least the East’s detractors stopped using the Lobster Bowl as Exhibit A.

Using an exhibition game to prove or disprove any trends is foolish. It is, after all, an all-star game, so while the coaches and players all like to talk about T-E-A-M, the game comes down to individual performances. And there have been many memorable ones.

My first Lobster Bowl in 2001 featured Lewiston’s Rob Dion taking a pass from Mt. Blue’s Marcus Corey 75 yards for a touchdown. Three years later came the most thrilling finish in Lobster Bowl history. Biddeford’s Phil Bourassa led a 14-point West comeback in the second half, winning the game in front of his home crowd on a spectacular two-point coversion run on a broken play.

That game featured one of the most dominant individual performances I’ve ever seen. Phil Warren of Brunswick rushed for 210 yards, outgaining the entire West offense all by himself. The next year, following a hellacious thunder storm, Edward Little’s Robie Leighton picked off three passes, returning one 83 yards for a touchdown. Lewiston’s Jared Turcotte looked like a man among boys while rushing for 230 yards and scoring three touchdowns for the victorious East.

While I remember seeing them dominate on Waterhouse Field, I must confess I couldn’t remember all the numbers off the top of my head, so I had to check them out on the Shriners’ Lobster Bowl web site.

I did remember that Warren, Leighton and Turcotte all earned MVP honors for their great efforts. Nate Doehler earned MVP honors for the West with a dominant performance worthy of his predecessors, rushing for 183 yards and scoring all 16 of his points. Goddard probably should have been the East’s MVP for leading the comeback, but I doubt that’s what he’ll be telling his grandkids one day. He’ll talk about how he found the big man in the back of the end zone.

The Shriners hand out those MVP awards for each team after each game. They also recognize the individual players and cheerleaders from each team who raised the most money. 

I couldn’t find the names of the top fundraisers on the Shriners’ web site, which is a shame because those are the people that do the truly important work (for the record, this year they were Billy Clark of Skowhegan, Matt Hebert of South Portland, Dana Emberley of Boothbay, and Meagan Benson of Bucksport).

There are also countless coaches and volunteers, led by Lewiston athletic director Jason Fuller, who don’t get their names in the headlines but without whom, the game wouldn’t be possible.

It was Maine’s high school football coaches who started the game in 1990 after finding the Shriners to sponsor their dream of a high school all-star game. While it isn’t the original all-star game (basketball has played its own all-star game since 1981), it is the standard.

The game’s success inspired many other copycat high school all-star games have followed in Maine, all benefiting their own worthy causes. But the Lobster Bowl is still the Big Show.

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