When rivals Edward Little and Lewiston high schools meet in any sport, it’s a big game.

Gunnar Winslow, shown in 2017, is a starting lineman for the Edward Little football team. (Sun Journal file photo)

But it’s only a game.

Both sides have been hit with that reality this week as the Red Eddies and Blue Devils prepare for their Class A North playoff football game Friday 7:30 p.m.

Earlier this week, Al Winslow, a 1991 Lewiston graduate and father of Edward Little junior lineman Gunnar Winslow, was diagnosed with brain cancer.

“At 16, I shouldn’t be going through this,” Gunnar said. “But I’ve got a lot of good friends … and the football team is doing a good job. My coach, Dave Sterling, has been great.”

The Winslows found out Al had a tumor on Sunday, and on Monday learned that it was cancerous.

Gunnar said his friends and teammates have been in constant contact with him this week. He said Jason Fuller, Lewiston’s athletic director who played football and basketball with Al at Lewiston, also has been checking up on the family.

The communities of Auburn and Lewiston will unite to honor and support the Winslow family at Friday’s game at Walton Field.

“It’s a great rivalry, it’s a great game, and all that,” Fuller said. “But there’s so many more elements to the Lewiston-EL game.”

Those attending the game are asked to wear gray, the color of brain cancer awareness. There also will be the usual 50-50 raffle, but with all of the proceeds going to the Winslow family to help cover the expenses that go along with treatment, such as traveling costs and food.

There also is a bake sale being organized for tomorrow’s game, and gray plastic bracelets with “Winslow Strong” have been ordered.

“We’re going to … show some unity, just to let the Winslows know they’re not alone in the fight,” Fuller said.

Amanda Winslow, Gunnar’s mother and Al’s ex-wife, said the quick response of support has been moving.

“It’s amazing,” Amanda, who has three kids with Al, said. “We just found out about this on Monday, so to have this be such a whirlwind of support is truly amazing.”

Al Winslow has served in law enforcement in Auburn and Androscoggin County, and is currently a Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy as part of the Canine Unit.

Gunnar Winslow said the he has always looked up to his dad, and that Al has always supported him.

Don Bourgoin said he and Al have been friends since middle school. They played football at Lewiston and served in the Marines together.

“He’s a great friend, he’s a great father, he’s an incredible police officer, he’s a dog handler, he’s a good marine,” Bourgoin said. “He’s a brother.”

Amanda Winslow said she hasn’t been part of planning the public support at Friday’s game, but she has been aware of it. Before any of it happened, she said she wanted to make sure that Gunnar was OK with it, and all the attention it would bring.

“Before anybody did stuff, I asked Gunnar, ‘What do you want? Do you want this to be a big thing? Because I don’t want you to feel like all eyes are on you, or that you can’t just play your game,’” Amanda Winslow said. “And he’s like, ‘No, Ma, do whatever. Tell people to do whatever.’

“And he thinks it’s all awesome. He just wants his dad to have an amazing experience Friday night. That’s what he wants.”

Gunnar said his dad often talked to him about playing in an Edward Little-Lewiston game, especially football, and that, “There’s nothing else like it.”

Gunnar is a three-sport athlete at Edward Little, so he’s faced Lewiston many times. Friday’s game will be even bigger than them all.

“I made the promise to my dad that I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Gunnar said.


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