Thomas Horton and Max Clark are going to get a valuable tune-up on Saturday.
Horton and Clark will be opponents for the final time in the 31st annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic football game at Don Roux Field in Lewiston on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Afterward, both will be continuing their football careers in the Bangor area. Former Bonny Eagle High of Standish two-way lineman Horton will suit up for the Division I University of Maine, and Bangor quarterback Clark will play for his father, Nat, who is head coach at Division III Husson University.
They will report to their college teams shortly after the Lobster Bowl game, which pits last season’s seniors from the West against the East. The West holds a 20-10 advantage.
The teams have been practicing this week at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft.
“It’s good to get back in the swing of things. It’s a real good starter for what we have coming up,” said Horton, who won the prestigious Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Award that is given to the state’s top senior offensive and defensive linemen.
Horton won it for his play on the offensive side of the line.
He is projected to be a defensive lineman at UMaine.
“It’s going to be a good challenge. I’ll be going up against some real big guys on the offensive line,” said Horton, who is 265 pounds but will be taking snaps against offensive lineman in the 280- to 310-pound range.
“I’m starting at the bottom but I’m hoping that with hard work and getting to learn from the best, I’ll be able to improve a lot and hopefully work my way up eventually,” Horton added.
Clark is excited to play for his dad.
“I’ve been around the program ever since he was there. It’s cool to grow up around Husson football and now be able to put on the Husson uniform,” Clark said.
His father was a long-time assistant under Gabby Price before succeeding Price as the head coach in 2019.
Horton and Clark have played against each other before, and Clark got the upper hand this past season when he tossed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Howard with 49.5 seconds left to beat Horton and his Scots 37-30.
The two have tremendous respect for one another.
“Max is a great player. They played an awesome game that night,” Horton said.
“[Horton] is a guy you have to game plan for. You have to make sure you have two guys near him. He works hard and he’s a competitor. You don’t want to be near him when he’s going,” Clark said.
They will be following each other’s careers since Horton’s brother, Will, is an offensive lineman at Husson.
For now, the two are looking forward to the Lobster Bowl.
“It’s going to be fun to play in a game everyone wants to experience,” Clark said. “I’m blessed to be able to play in the game and to represent the East.”
Horton and Clark have enjoyed getting to know former rivals, many of whom are now teammates, as well as players from other classes.
“It has been pretty easy to get to know everybody,” said Clark, who led the Rams to a 7-3 season and their first Class A home playoff berth since 2014.
The game has raised more than $750,000 for the Shriners Hospitals for Children over the years.
“It’s great just to play for [this cause],” Clark said.