I had a chance to attend the Kansas Shrine Bowl Football Game on Saturday in Pittsburg and this time I did it more as a spectator than a journalist, along with "Voice of the Bullpups" Jim Joyner.
When the day ever comes when I retire, that’s something I’m going to look forward to. It will be fun to attend local sporting events as a fan, be a part of the crowd and not constantly thinking about the angle of my story, not to mention meeting a deadline.
I had access to the field for the Shrine Bowl, so I watched the game from the West sideline. The team included McPherson High’s Wyatt Seidl, Smoky Valley’s Kyle Anderson and Hesston’s Reese Nebel, while Hesston’s Tyson Bauerle and Smoky Valley’s Tim Lambert served as assistant coaches, a reward for their outstanding 2017 seasons.
I’ve always watched the game on TV but being down on the field, you realize just how intense the game is. There was some tremendous hitting on both sides and as often happens in this game, the defenses dominated. I also got to see how the coaches adapted to situations and the adjustments they made.
Seidl started in the defensive line and had a couple of plays where he broke through and tackled the runner for a loss, just as he did so many times as a Bullpup. He’s on his way to play football at Fort Hays, where he’s expected to redshirt as that’s the norm for that program.
Anderson was in on several tackles from his linebacker spot, while Nebel caught a couple of passes and also boomed two PATs.
To boot, McPherson High cheerleader Paige Unruh was selected for the Elite 8 after there was competition featuring more than 200 participants.
The game itself was on its way to snoozer status in the first half, as the East totally dominated both lines of scrimmage, piling up 21 points on three long drives, while the West offense was stuck in neutral.
But an early turnover in the second half led to a West score and for the most part it was the better team the last 24 minutes as it turned into a tale of two halves.
The West had momentum on its side heading into the fourth quarter, but a booming punt by the East’s Jack Blumer of Marysville totally changed the complexion of the game as it was downed on the 1. The East won the battle of field position the rest of the way and the West never threatened again.
The game was relatively void of big plays as the West had only 154 yards, 37 of that on one passing play. The East had only one play over 20 yards, that a 35-yard pass play.
I was wondering how the crowd size would be since Pittsburg is situated in the most southeast portion of the state. But other than the highest reaches of the upper deck of Carnie Smith Stadium behind the West bench, the place was full.
The Shriners do a great job every year of making the week a memorable experience for the players. Let’s hope Dodge City can follow suit when it hosts the game next year.