HEBRON — On a typical mid-summer day, Joshua Thibeault would be entrenched in the mud of a tidal flat, digging for clams.

For the bulk of a rainy week of training camp, the Brunswick High School lineman has been digging into the muddy trenches at Hebron Academy, preparing for the 25th Annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic (6 p.m., Saturday, Waterhouse Field in Biddeford).

It’s hot, hard work, perhaps even harder than clam digging. But there is no place, — even home in Durham — he would rather be in mid-July.

“I just enjoy competition,” he said. “It’s fun coming out here and competing against the best.”

They don’t get much better than the 6-foot-4, 315-pound two-way tackle. A two-way Pine Tree Conference all-star and semi-finalist for the 2013 Frank J. Gaziano Lineman Award, Thibeault stands out on a football field filled with many of the best football players in the state.

“He’s an intimidating presence, and he’s got the meanness to back it up,” Brunswick coach Dan Cooper said. “He’s quite athletic for his size, so when you’ve got the biggest, toughest kid on the field, it always works in your advantage.”

On Saturday, Thibeault will play offensive tackle and also line up at defensive tackle in goal-line situations for the East.

Off the field, he downplays the intimidation factor with an easy smile and friendly demeanor. West players who have only seen this side of his personality in the Hebron Academy dorm or cafeteria may be in for a surprise when they line up across from him on Saturday.

“He can flick a switch,” Cooper said. “Off the field, he’s a nice sweet kid. But on the field, he’s just one mean SOB, and if you’re in his way, he’s going to take you out.”

The Dragons’ smashmouth Wing-T prospered in 2013 running behind Thibeault. The defense prospered behind him, too, since he bulled his way into the backfield with impressive regularity.

Physical and poised, Thibeault epitomized Brunswick’s rumbling style of play. He started learning it as a second-grader in Brunswick Area Youth Football.

His father, Dana, graduated from Brunswick and his older sister, Sarah, a field hockey and hockey standout, graduated in 2012.

Thibeault was destined to be a Dragon and couldn’t wait to make his mark on one of the most physical football teams in the state.

“Coach Cooper and his staff are so tough on linemen. They treat us at the next level. They expect the best out of us because it’s the line first,” he said.

With Thibeault as a junior, the line paved the way on Jared Jensen’s record-breaking season. Last fall behind Thibeault and guard Jacob Duffy, the Dragons bulldozed their way to the best record in the Pine Tree Conference Class B. They fell to eventual state champion Cony in the Eastern final.

“We had a great ride all the way up through,” Thibeault said. “It was so much fun. (Losing to Cony) was a tough loss, but I didn’t feel that bad because I knew that I had put everything out on the field that I could. The outcome just didn’t go our way.”

The honors poured in after the season. Yet Thibeault’s proudest accomplishment is the PTC all-academic recognition he received. He graduated with a 3.6 GPA.

That’s not to say he wasn’t delighted with being selected to represent Brunswick one last time in the state’s all-star game.

“Everyone that I’ve talked to about this game says that it’s a life-changing experience,” said Thibeault, who is headed to post-grad school at Phillips Exeter in New Hampshire.

Net proceeds from the game go to the Shriners Children’s Hospitals. A spring meeting at Lewiston’s Kora Temple informs players of the cause. Raising the $400 minimum to play in the game teaches them the meaning, Thibeault said.

“When I tell people I’m going to play in the Lobster Bowl, they always have a story about how they know someone that was helped by the Shriners,” he said. “It’s really awesome.”


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