The Annual Honor

By Jeremy McDonald

jeremymcdonald73@gmail.com

BAKER CITY, Ore.–  There is no greater honor than to be selected to play in the East-West Shriners’ All-Star Game.

The best football players from 1A-4A from around the State spend the week in the area preparing for the game, representing their schools.  Playing for the children in the Shriners Hospital in Portland, building bonds with each other during the short time together in the 68th-annual Shrine Game.

“It wasn’t just about the game.  It’s about the whole week, playing with all the boys.  Building all of these relationships.  It wasn’t all about the game, but this game was fun for sure,” said Cascade’s David Kanoff.

Kanoff came alive in the second half, collecting five receptions for 33 yards offensively while making five tackles and having two pass break-ups on defense in the game.

The West defense, in the 28-6 East win, played strongly in the opening half.  Marist’s Will Blassett, Salem Academy’s Brandon Reed and Kennedy’s Brady Traeger all led the defense charge.

The West team held the high-octane East team’s offense, led by Gladstone’s Sebastian Peiffer, to 14 points for much of the opening half of their 34-6 defeat in Baker City Saturday night (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

For Traeger, he forced two forced fumbles, had three sacks and had three other tackles.  All in the first half.  Alone.  While finishing with nine tackles with three sacks and those two forced fumbles as David Reyes (seven carries for 11 yards, 1.5 tackles), Camryn Biegel (1 tackle) and Cole Boen (three tackles) represented the Mount Angel school in this game.

“It’s great, we had a great four years.  We got four of us, but it’s awesome to be playing one more time,” Traeger said.  “One more time playing this game, it means a lot and I did the best that I could.”

Traeger will be heading to Oregon State University here in a few weeks to major in Engineering.

Salem Academy’s Justin Johnson, who made two tackles in the game, was a late add to the game.  Receiving the call to play in the game Monday and quickly made things work to make it out.  Leaving Salem at 4:30am to make it in time for the first practice of the week.

But for him, like the theme of the week, it was bigger than the game they are popping the pads over.

“I was super bummed out that I couldn’t come to this game.  I was helping Brandon (Reed) with passes and quarterbacking because he was coming,” Johnson said.  “But all of these guys, on this team…we created a brotherhood.  We were in the same room every, single night.  We’re brothers forever and that’s the best thing about this. 

“It’s not about the scoreboard, it was about…I was really appreciative being around these guys out here because I never thought I would be rooting for the Kennedy boys or being great friends with the Amity boys.  It’s just crazy that being on the same team can build that relationship.  I really appreciate that from them and I had a great time this week.”

Reed finished with six-and-a-half tackles with six carries for 27 yards and threw 12 yards passes.  Amity’s Keenan Graham had a tackle and Josh Wart had a reception for eight yards as they wrapped up one final day together.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald

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