FOXCROFT — For Jason Versey and Matthew Friedman, Lobster Bowl week is a breeding ground for improvement. 

As new head coaches for Lewiston and Mt. Blue, respectively, Versey and Friedman have taken the opportunity to pick the brains of their fellow coaches. 

Jason Versey is serving as an assistant coach for the West team in the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic. Versey is shown during media day at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Versey recognizes the amount of coaching knowledge around him at the Lobster Bowl. 

“There’s a plethora of wisdom with these (coaches), and we spend all this time with them,” Versey said. “Just the amount of wisdom and experience they have; they’ve probably forgotten more than I know.” 

And Versey, a first-time head coach, has certainly been soaking it all in. 

“Being a first-year head football coach, I have so much to learn, and there’s so much wisdom with the guys who are (at the Lobster Bowl),” Versey said. “It’s nice to just see how they run their program, how we install, how much kids can handle. There’s a lot that I don’t know.” 


“They’re amazing, they take me under their wing,” Versey added. “When you’re a part of a coaching fraternity, they really want to see you do well.” 

One specific point Versey has focused on with other coaches has been his Wing-T offense. It’s a popular offense among Maine high school football coaches, and Versey is always looking for ways to improve his version of it. 

“We’re a Wing-T offense, and there are so many ways to scheme and block for it,” Versey said. “But (the coaches) have learned, over time, the best ways to block, the best ways to align, the most effective plays against certain fronts. So yeah, you get that.”

A couple of those coaches that Versey has learned from at the Lobster Bowl — Chris Kates and Dave Bochtler — are longtime friends of Versey’s.  

Kates, who is head coach at Lisbon — where Versey has been an assistant the past three years — and the head coach of the West team, helped Versey secure his Lewiston job. 

“Coach Kates has been a wonderful mentor and friend to me,” said Versey, who will be an assistant coach for the West team. “He really gave me the experience and the opportunity to be a head football coach. I’m grateful for him to allow me to be here.” 


Bochtler, an assistant coach at Leavitt and for the West team, was Versey’s position coach in high school at Lewiston. 

“It’s awesome because Dave Bochtler was my position coach in high school, and now we’re side by side coaching together at the Lobster Bowl,” Versey said. 

Bochtler was one of many coaches throughout Versey’s life that empowered him to succeed, thus encouraging Versey to pay it forward. 

“Culture was so important when I was younger as an athlete. I was a young man that grew up without a father, so I looked for something to cling to,” Versey said. “And a brotherhood, a great staff that cared about you and was able to mentor you, was what I needed. I want to be able to have the same impact on kids I coach.” 


Like Versey, Friedman has long-lasting friendships with many of his fellow Lobster Bowl coaches. 


“The coaches that I’m coaching with are mostly longtime friends. We’ve known each other for years,” Friedman said. “We’ve coached against each other, so it’s a little bit of a fraternity of coaches.” 

Mt. Blue football coach Matt Friedman, left, and Leavitt football coach Mike Hathaway watch players at the Maine Elite Passing Camp earlier this month at Fuller Field in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Friedman and five other East team coaches are living in the headmaster’s house on Foxcroft Academy’s campus for the week, so it has been a great opportunity for the new Mt. Blue head coach to talk football with other coaches. 

“It’s natural (to talk football) just because of the closeness of everything. We’re here for a week, practicing multiple times a day, so we’re definitely sharing ideas,” Friedman said. “We put in an offense and defense together as a group, so I’m definitely going to take things away from other coaches.” 

“We talk about everything,” Friedman added, “but football is definitely at the forefront of what we talk about.” 

Friedman and Oxford Hill coach Mark Soehren, who will both be assistant coaches for the East team, have been bouncing ideas off each other all week. 

“Coach Soehren and I have very similar offensive philosophies already,” Friedman said. “So there are definitely some plays that we run similarly, and there might be some things that he runs a bit differently, so I’ve been asking him about that.” 


Friedman has also noticed that, in general, football coaches are willing to help each other out and discuss strategies. 

“I look at it as a brotherhood, as a fraternity of like-minded individuals who are trying to get better,” Friedman said. “My former coaches are always willing to talk to me and discuss anything.” 

Friedman, who was previously an assistant at Mt. Blue, plans to continue to enlist the help of his coaching brotherhood, and he hopes they can learn from him, too. 

“Hopefully there’s something that I can give back to them,” Friedman said.

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