PITTSBURG — After being stunned by the West team by way of a late-game safety last year, the East team outmuscled the West team throughout the first half of the 2018 Shrine Bowl, and outlasted a spirited West second half run to gain a 21-14 victory at Carnie Smith Stadium.
“Huge win for us tonight,” said St. Mary’s Colgan coach Shawn Seematter. “To be able to win it here, with so many local kids performing in the game, is a special feeling.”
“Knowing this was my last high school game, I left it all out on the field,” said Colgan’s Max Wilson. “It’s nice to be able to play in such a important game with a great cause in my hometown.”
After Wilson sacked West quarterback Braden Howell on fourth down to cut the opening drive of the game short, Pittsburg’s Chase Curtis drove the East down 50 yards in 13 plays for the first scoring drive of the game.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to play in the Shrine Bowl in Pittsburg because this town has meant so much to me throughout the past 18 years. To be able to split snaps with Jack (Blumer) and other talented players is something that will stick with me throughout my life.”
Nijel Roberts dropped what looked to be a sure 50-yard touchdown reception early in the drive, the first of three deep play opportunities that he and Curtis failed to capitalize on.
Following a third down 14-yard grab by Dexton Swinehart, Jack Petz scampered-in from four yards out to give the East an early advantage.
The West begin their second drive with consecutive eight-yard runs by Howell, but the drive stalled near midfield, sparked a sack on fourth down by Trevor Little.
Grant Fairchild almost got the ball back for the West team on the ensuring punt attempt, forcing Jared Flood to fumble after receiving the punt.
The East would recover the fumble, and drive almost 80 yards down the field to push the lead to 14-0.
Blumer’s 13-yard third down rush helped keep the drive moving for the East.
Tristian Davis punched in the touchdown at the goaline to extend the lead.
The West had a shot at getting on the board with five minutes to go in the second quarter. East corner Gage Foster failed to bat-down a strike from Howell, but Blake Sullivan couldn’t handle the pass.
On the next drive the East team broke out a little trickery, leaning on a fake punt attempt on fourth down on the West 40 yardline. Blumer found Jackson Heath on a 35-yard pass down the field to move the chains.
“We practiced that play a few times over the week, so it was a satisfying feeling to watch it work on gameday.” added Curtis.
Blumer finished the drive off on fourth and goal for the East. After being stuffed at the line of scrimmage, Blumer bounced around the tackle on his QB sneak attempt to give East a 21-0 lead at halftime.
“The hometown crowd was great throughout, so it was a cool experience to be apart of,”
said Frontenac’s Broc Ginavan after the game.
In the third quarter, The West took advantage of a short field after forcing a fumble near the 30 yard line. Jarrett Jurgens scored from five-yards out to cut the lead.
After stopping the East on their next drive, Levi Archer’s 37-yard snag down the sideline sparked a late touchdown drive by the West, punctuated by a touchdown from Brody Kooser.
The East held on to their composure, forcing the West to use all three of their timeouts late in the fourth before stopping them on their last drive.
Blumer won the MVP for the East team. Jurgens captured the award for the West.
Note: Former Garden City High School standout Demarcus Elliott, who was the Class 6A Player of the Year in 2017 and made the Topeka Capital-Journal's All Class Top 11, recorded six tackles from his defensive line position. Elliott, 6-4, 290-pounder, will be a freshman at Garden City Community College this year.