High school graduates prepare for 43rd Kansas Shrine Bowl

EMPORIA (KSNT) – It’s that time of the year, where the best high school football players from all over the state gather for a good cause.

“It’s fun, it really is, to get these kids together and watch them interact,” said Blake Pierce, head coach of the east team.

Practices for the Kansas Shrine Bowl kicked off this week and for the east squad, it’s been a grind so far.

“The practices have been fun,” said Jacob Anderson, Topeka High graduate headed to Washburn. “We’ve been getting into it, they get intense sometimes, but we’re just getting each other better every day and getting better each and every practice.”

The game itself raises money for the Shriners Hospital for Children, however some players are also taking advantage of the extra practice.

“Just learning everything I can learn,” said Mike McCoy, Topeka High graduate headed to K-State.”Just being ready for K-State next week. We put on pads next week so it’s a head start getting ready to hit it and everything.”

Other players, such as Tucker Horak, Rossville graduate headed to Pitt State, as well as Cole Baird, Silver Lake graduate headed to Emporia State, they see it as a chance to play with their rival, rather than against them.

“We’ve been cool outside of sports,” Horak said about Baird. “Actually there might have been a small chance that we’d end up on the same college team but that didn’t happen so the fact that we get to play one together is actually pretty cool.”

Baird agrees.

“Yeah it’s pretty cool playing with Tucker,” Baird said. “It’s not been fun being on the opposite of him for 3 years, 4 years.”

However for head coach Blake Pierce, who after 12 years of coaching, stepped down from the head coaching job at Seaman, he sees it as an appropriate way to go out.

“It’s really special to me that it’s the shrine bowl,” Pierce said. “It’s such a great cause, I really like the interaction with the coaches and the players.”

All in all, if the interaction goes right, the players will end their high school career one a high note.

“We get a win and beat the west, we’ll just finish off a great year and have fun,” McCoy said.

The 2016 Kansas Shrine Bowl will kick off at 7 pm on Saturday, July 30 at Welch Stadium in Emporia.

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