KEARNEY – There were a total of six players from the York News-Times’ coverage area in the 61st annual Shrine Bowl all-star football game last Saturday in Kearney.
All of those six competed for the South, which lost 32-10 to the North. Although their team came away with a loss, they had great things to say after the game.
“It was a ton of fun,” York’s Noah Stafursky, who anchored the offensive and defensive lines, said, “both sides were going super hard and we were going 100 percent, which you don’t see in most all-star games, even the Pro Bowl in the NFL you don’t see them going 100 percent.”
Stafursky, a Nebraska football walk-on, relished the opportunity to play against some of the state’s top talent in the trenches.
“The defensive linemen were really good. They weren’t the biggest but they were fast and they know how to rush the passer,” Stafursky said. “Caden Johnson was out there, he’s going to South Dakota State and he’s pretty good. That was a challenge but I think I met it.”
Centennial’s Jackson Hirschfeld, a receiver for the South, caught two passes for 11 yards.
“They kind of jumped on us a little bit, but they were good, they played well,” Hirschfeld said of the game. “We kind of had some things not go our way and missed a couple big plays that could have been, but I was happy to get a couple grabs.”
Hirschfeld will spend the rest of the summer working on his dad’s farm while going to workouts at Concordia University in Seward, where he’s going to be playing basketball. He’s been doing the team’s workouts since state track ended in mid-May.
The Shrine Bowl marked the last time where the players will rep their high school colors. It was a bittersweet moment for Stafursky.
“It was a wonderful ride. There were some highs, some lows, but there were mountain-top, peak highs. Elkhorn South, 14-0, I’ll never forget that,” Stafursky said of his time as a Duke. “There were so many other moments and I’m so grateful that I’m able to have those experiences and grateful for the people who were a part of it, like Jake and Glen Snodgrass, Coach Kern and even Masry Mapieu – he was such a great buddy to have on the defensive and offensive line with me. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
The game also gave confidence to some players, like Fillmore Central’s Riley Moses, who was a lineman for the South. He’s a Nebraska walk-on, too.
“It was really fun, because coming from Fillmore we didn’t really play big-time schools, so I felt really good about going out there and getting to bash heads with those kids from those bigger schools,” Moses said, “and knowing that I can stick in there and fight for four quarters, just like I did in Class C ball.
“It makes me feel really confident going into Nebraska.”
Other local football talent that played in the Shrine Bowl includes York’s Garrett Snodgrass, Centennial’s Quinn Butzke and Exeter-Milligan/Friend’s Edwen Baptista.