Leavitt’s Hunter Hayes was named the West squad’s Lobster Bowl MVP for making two big defensive plays — an interception near the end of the first half and a 90-yard fumble return for the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter — in the West’s 40-35 win over the East on Saturday at Lewiston High School Lee Horton/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Hunter Hayes was a menace on defense during Saturday’s Lobster Bowl at Lewiston High School.

Hayes, a recent Leavitt Area High School graduate, made a couple of game-changing plays for the West squad in its 40-35 win over the East in the Maine high school football game, which returned to an 11-man tackle football format for the first time since 2019 after two years of interruption due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hayes’ first big play came with a minute left in the first half.

The East offense, with a 29-21 lead, was driving downfield and decided to run a flood action play, which gives the quarterback three receiving options to pass to: a deep route, an intermediate route and a short route. 

Hayes baited the quarterback to throw the intermediate route by faking towards the deep receiver, and then swooped in and picked off the pass. This set up an end-of-the-half score for the West, cutting its deficit to one point, 29-28, and shifting the game’s momentum.

Leavitt runs flood plays all the time, so Hayes, who was playing safety Saturday, knew exactly what to expect. 


“We run the flood concept a bunch, so I’ve seen it a bunch, especially against Wyatt (Hathaway) when he used to run it in practice,” Hayes said. 

Wyatt Hathaway, a 2021 Leavitt graduate who was a three-year starter at quarterback, remembers trying to run the flood concept against Hayes in high school. 

“Hunter’s so smart when it comes to defense. He’s the only guy in practice that I just won’t throw it towards,” Hathaway, who was at Saturday’s game, said. “The three years when I was in practice with him, he probably picked me off 50 or 60 times in practice on (the flood play). He’s so good at baiting it, and he makes it look like it’s open.” 

Bill County, a Leavitt and West assistant coach, and Hayes’ uncle, also notices Hayes’ knack for making smart plays on the defensive side of the ball, especially when it comes to the flood concept. 

“You have to diagnose what’s going on in the flood play as the safety, and he reads the QB’s eyes really well,” County said.  

Hayes — who played various positions on both sides of the ball, including quarterback, for the Hornets — also is the son of Leavitt/West assistant coach Mike Marston, so he’s been around coaches for much of his life.


“He grew up in a football household and he’s been around the game his whole life,” County said. “He’s a really intelligent, smart kid.” 

Hayes also was a leader for the West team during practices during the week leading up to Saturday’s game. 

“He’s an unbelievable leader,” County said. “Not a rah-rah guy, though; he just sets things up by example and with his intelligence.”

Hayes’ best play came early in the fourth quarter when he returned a fumble 90 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, which put the West ahead 40-35 with 14:37 to play in the game.

“A couple of my teammates had him wrapped up, and I kind of got in there late and ripped at it, and it came out,” Hayes said. “A couple of my teammates made a couple blocks for me and I made it into the end zone.” 

The play was almost blown dead, so County was unable to see the entire play. 


“I was turned around saying ‘What’s the next play?’” County said, “and I turned back around and there was Hunter running.” 

When Hayes returned to the bench after his 90-yard sprint, he exhaled and said, “That was a long time (running),” garnering laughs from his teammates who were there to congratulate him.


Hayes gave maximum effort to the Lobster Bowl both on and off the field.

As crucial as his defensive plays were in deciding the game, his most meaningful contribution to the Shriner’s Lobster Bowl was his fundraising efforts. 

Hayes raised over $7,500, more than any other player at the Lobster Bowl. All of the money collected at the event and through the fundraising of the football players and cheerleaders who participate, goes to the Shriners Hospitals for Children.


Hayes said that watching the Lobster Bowl when he was growing up inspired him to raise as much money as possible.

“My dad’s been coaching at the Lobster Bowl and I’ve been coming with him forever, so I understand the importance of raising money for the hospital and what the game is all about,” said Hayes, who is planning to play linebacker at Springfield College this fall. 

“He accompanied me as a youngster to all of these Lobster Bowl games, so he got a sense of the camaraderie and spirit of the event,” Marston said. 

County said that Marston’s players are always on top of the fundraising aspect of the event, which County attributes to Marston’s ability to motivate and encourage players. 

Marston, who was honored at halftime with the Mike Haley Award for his contributions to the Lobster Bowl over the years, said that the thing that drove Hayes’ and his teammates’ fundraising efforts the most was hearing some of the kids who have benefitted from the Shriners Hospitals share their experience at the April meeting at the Kora Shrine Temple.

“He learned about the mission of the Shriners Hospital when three patients spoke to the boys at the Shrine in the spring, and that really inspired him and every other kid,” Marston said. 

This powerful experience encouraged Hayes to provide maximum effort, both on and off the field. 

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