BIDDEFORD — The 22nd Shriners Lobster Bowl Classic football all-star game will long be remembered for two things.
For starters, the game was played amid the tail end of a brutal heat wave which swept the state. Temperatures approached the century mark, the game was stopped on eight separate occasions for water breaks and had its quarters reduced from 15 minutes to 12.
Ultimately, the biggest story was the heroics of former Portland High standout Imadhi Zagon, who broke a run for a touchdown in the first half, then had a critical 86-yard kickoff return for a score in the fourth period to give the West a 16-13 win over the East, its 16th against six defeats.
The East went 56 yards on six plays on its first series to take a 7-0 lead when Bangor’s Joe Seccareccia found Belfast’s Lani Eversage for a 29-yard TD pass and Leavitt’s Maxwell Cloutier added the extra point.
The West didn’t get on the board until 6:49 remained in the second period when an errant East snap went out of the end zone for a safety. The West then drove 48 yards to take the lead when Zagon ran 27 yards for a score (he almost fumbled the pitch from former Deering standout quarterback Jamie Ross, but held on and took off). Ross added the extra point for a 9-7 advantage.
The score remained 9-7 until 4:36 was left in the game. Edward Little’s Teven Colon scored on a 3-yard run for a 13-9 lead. The East’s two-point conversion attempt was stuffed.
The lead stood for 16 seconds as Zagon went back to receive a kickoff for the only time on the day, caught the ball at the 14 and stole the show.
Zagon ran into a pile of West defenders at about the 40, appeared to be stopped, but even after losing a shoe, kept his legs churning to bust through and down the right sideline for what proved to be the game-winning TD.
“I knew they were going to kick away from me so the coach called over to (Livermore Falls’ Alexander Rose and me) from the sideline and told us to line up one behind the other and whichever way he kicks it, just go to it,” Zagon said. “I just ran as hard as I could.”
Ross’ extra point gave the West a 16-13 lead and after a pair of interceptions by Rose, the win was secured.
Zagon finished with 64 yards on six carries and was named the West’s Most Valuable Player.
Several other familiar local names played a role in the West’s victory. Ross completed 10 of 19 passes for 93 yards with an interception. Teammate John Hardy was the receiving standout, grabbing nine balls for 77 yards. Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Peter Gwilym of Class A state champion Cheverus intercepted two passes. Teammate Zach Dulac was his usual hard-hitting self.
Falmouth was represented by offensive lineman Jack Horton, Freeport by defensive back Matt MacMillan and Greely by lineman Michael Burgess and linebacker Jonathan Higgins.
Cape Elizabeth’s Conner McAlaney made a clutch tackle before leaving the game with an injury. Scarborough’s Michael Cyr (tight end) and South Portland’s Matt Welch (who was voted the state’s premier offensive lineman last season) also took part.
Freeport’s Rob Grover and Greely’s David Higgins served as assistant coaches.
Deering’s Maria Villarreal, Greely’s Kelly Rowan, Portland’s Alyssa Nielsen and Hong-Vy Pham and South Portland’s Allyssa Conley and Hayli Mulkern served as cheerleaders. Deering’s Brandon Ouellette was one of the cheerleading coaches.
Net proceeds from the annual high school senior all-star game go to the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Sun Journal staff writer Randy Whitehouse contributed to this story.
Scarborough’s Michael Cyr makes a tackle.
Former Greely standout Jonathan Higgins puts pressure on East quarterback Joe Seccareccia.
Jack Horton represented Falmouth at the game and was an anchor on the offensive line.
Former South Portland standout lineman Matt Welch zeroes in on an East ball carrier.
Former Deering standout John Hardy was the game’s receiving standout, catching nine passes for 77 yards.
Freeport’s Matt MacMillan makes a nice open field tackle on Cony’s Colin McKee.
Former Greely lineman Michael Burgess protects West quarterback Josh Woodward of Thornton Academy.
Former Deering High quarterback standout Jamie Ross looks for a receiver during the West’s victory.
Peter Gwilym, the 2010 Fitzpatrick Trophy winner after leading Cheverus to a state championship, played defensive back for the West Saturday and intercepted two passes.
Former Portland High star Imadhi Zagon breaks free during a first half run. Zagon rushed for 64 yards and a TD and returned a kickoff 86 yards for the decisive score in the West’s 16-13 victory.
More photos below.