Anthony Mazza of Mountain Valley High School pulls in a first-half touchdown pass while being defended by Curtis Errington of Dirigo in Rumford last fall. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file photo

The Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl annually pits the state’s best senior football players from the east and west against each other in an all-star game for charity.

While the Lobster Bowl is different this year than the 30 previous editions — it is switching to a 7-on-7 tournament instead of a typical 11-man tackle game — a couple of “juniors” from Mountain Valley will still be getting the same last-chance opportunity that so many before them experienced.

Mountain Valley’s Anthony Mazza makes a reception against Oxford Hills last fall. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

Anthony Mazza will represent the Falcons for the final time, just as his father, Anthony Mazza Sr., did in 1997. It will also be the last time that Mazza works with his Mountain Valley coach, Devin Roberts, who is the youngest of the eight had coaches in this year’s 7-on-7 tournament at Lewiston High School.

“Being selected for the Lobster Bowl means the most to me, as that was always one my goals growing up playing youth football,” Mazza said. “It’s a cool feature to be the first father-son duo from my school to be selected to the Lobster Bowl.”

“I’m very excited to get at it once more with my coach,” Mazza added, “and I’m looking forward to winning a few games with him this Saturday.”

Roberts, a 2007 Mountain Valley graduate, said Mazza’s participation was one of the paramount reasons he wanted to be a part of this year’s event.

“That is probably one of the coolest things and really one of the main reasons why I decided to volunteer for this as soon as (Lobster Bowl Game Coordinator BJ) Robbins said he was looking for volunteers. I really wanted to seize that opportunity to be able to be there for Anthony,” Roberts said. “I’ve been coaching high school football for about eight years now, and I’ve been watching that kid all the way since he was in (Area Youth Football) all the way up to when he came on to the high school team with me, and so has (assistant coach Ryan) Casey and (assistant coach John) Perry. So for us to be able to be there for him at the Lobster Bowl, that’s incredible and we couldn’t be happier. I’m sure he’s ecstatic to have us with him as well.”

Casey and Perry will be assisting Roberts, who is leading Team Grey — each of the eight teams is designated by a color from the coach’s school.

Mazza is the lone Falcon on the Grey squad. Mazza said one of his good friends, Old Orchard Beach’s Ryan Crockett, is on the team and they’ll be playing football together for the first time. Other area players on Team Grey are Leavitt’s Zach Madison, Mt. Blue’s Tucker Nicholas, Winthrop’s Gavin Perkins, Poland’s Joe Ringuette and Lewiston’s Keegan Whiting.

Roberts said earlier this week that he hadn’t yet reached out to his players, but he was planning to do so and at least introduce himself, congratulate the players for being selected and thanking them for supporting the Shriners.

Not knowing much about his players is a challenge and fun for Roberts and the other coaches.

“I hope when I get to the players, they’re still pretty pumped up that they’re part of something awesome, they’re a part of the Lobster Bowl and they really want to compete still,” Roberts said. “I mean, I’m going to put a scheme in. We have a two-hour practice with them (Saturday morning) and we’re going to do as much as we can to surprise people. Especially with me being a young coach, I’m sure some of those coaches are, you know, ‘Here’s the new guy,’ so hopefully I can do some good things for the kids.”

Roberts said he’s looked back at some of the things that he’s done during summer 7-on-7 tournaments in the past and also done online research, but his game plan won’t look anything like what Mountain Valley has run before.

Like Mazza, Telstar’s Davin Mason is the lone representative from his school, but he won’t have the benefit of playing for his old coach. Instead, Mason will be working with Marshwood head coach Alex Rotsko on Team Purple.

“I’m very excited to see what Coach Rotsko’s style is; I’m sure it will be much different than what I’m used to,” Mason said. “Don’t get me wrong, my coaches are the best in my eyes, but I’m sure it will be different.”

Mason said his first experience with 7-on-7 football was when he played center and snapped for his older brother Elijah. Otherwise, he got a taste of it last fall as the Rebels’ quarterback when that was all that was offered for high school players in the state.

Telstar quarterback Davin Mason scores to put the Rebels up 22-0 over Sacopee Valley during the third quarter of a Sept. 2019 game. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file photo

“I’m just excited to end my sports career in as bright of a way as possible. After all that’s been taken from me, I’m grateful for any opportunity,” Mason said.

His Team Purple teammates, who he said he doesn’t know much about, include Poland’s Isaiah Hill, Oxford Hills’ Ty LeBlond and Lewiston’s Danny May.

For some players and coaches, the Lobster Bowl is a chance to create new friendships. For others, it’s a chance to continue working relationships.

“It will be nice to work with a lot of the kids and coaches and Shriners,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said after the format of this year’s event was announced. “There are a lot of relationships that have been built over the years through the Lobster Bowl, so it will be great to see some familiar faces, and I’ve gotten to know a lot of kids through summer camps.”

Hathaway’s Team Green features area players Tommy Casey, Asa Leavitt and Wyatt Hathaway from Leavitt, Mt. Blue’s Zach Delano and Edward Little’s Nick Kaiser.

Hathaway will be coaching against one of his assistants, Bill County, who is also a former head coach at Lewiston. County’s Team Yellow includes one player from his former school (Lewiston’s Jaiden Caron), two from his current school (Leavitt’s Eddie Kern and Denver Taylor) and also Edward Little’s Tyson Green and Mt. Blue’s Jack Kearing.

Like Hathaway, Team Gold coach Mark Soehren of Oxford Hills will have his son, Atticus Soehren, as his quarterback. Another former Viking, Marcus Stone, also is on the Team Gold roster.

Team Blue coach Chad Stowell, the new head coach at Oak Hill, will have former Raiders Gavin Rawstron and Sam Lindsay on his team, as well as Dirigo’s Cole Brown, Lewiston’s Josh Randall and Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale’s Noah Dunn and Ian Steele.

Lisbon’s Chris Kates will be coaching Team Red, and his roster will feature former Greyhounds Justin Le and Daytona McIver.

Team Orange will be coached by Gardiner’s Pat Munzing and includes area players Dante Garcia and Cam Irish of Edward Little, Lewiston’s Garrett Mack and Mt. Blue’s Keegan Roberts.

Lineman who have been invited to Saturday’s event include Mt. Blue’s Jimmy Archer and Sam Wrigley; Leavitt’s Isaac Bohem and Connor Garrity; Lewiston’s Michael Ford, Michael Jalbert and Noah Liberty; Dirigo’s Chase Nelson; Edward Little’s Ben Poland and Oxford Hills’ Jream Tripp.

TOURNAMENT DETAILS

Saturday’s Lobster Bowl 7-on-7 tournament begins with three rounds of round robin play at 2 p.m. There are two pools (Pool A and Pool B) and action will take place on two fields at a time. Each round robin game is scheduled to last about 30 minutes. The next round begins at 4 p.m. and concludes with a championship game at 7:30 p.m.


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