TOPEKA — The West defeated the East 14-9 in the 47th Kansas Shrine Bowl on Saturday at Hummer Sports Complex in the state's capital.
According to the Wichita Eagle, Saturday's all-star game was believed to be the third regulated football game to kickoff in America since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The East drew first blood in the game with a field goal from Evan Ranallo of Blue Valley Northwest in the first quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, Kade Melvin of Norton Community struck back with a one-yard touchdown run that helped secure an 8-3 lead for the West.
The West extended its lead with a 44-yard touchdown run from Dalton Miller of Great Bend, putting the East down 14-3 in the third quarter.
Humboldt's Conor Haviland scored on a one-yard touchdown run for the East in the fourth quarter to pull his side of the state within five points. One drive later, a touchdown pass to Fort Scott's CJ Horton was waved off due to an offensive pass interference call.
Area participants in Saturday's Shrine Bowl included Erie's Caype Johnston, an offensive lineman who started for the East, and St. Paul's Adam Albertini.
“I loved it,” Johnston said. “Meeting new people, playing for such a great cause was just really cool.”
Miller won MVP for the West, while Centralia's Kamble Haverkamp was MVP for the East.
While Johnston got the start for the East, Albertini got three touches on with the ball. His lone rush was stuffed in the backfield while he had two catches for 12 yards.
“I didn’t expect to have the ball in my hands as much as I did in high school,” Albertini said. “Everybody on that team, in that locker room, is a playmaker. That’s why they were picked.”
Johnston felt he performed well in his role along the offensive line.
“I think I did all right," Johnston said. "There were times I made mistakes and missed some blocks. But overall it was pretty good.”
Saturday's Shrine Bowl was also a test of limits against the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans, media and coaches were required to wear masks at all time. Attendance was capped at Hummer Sports Complex and socially distanced seating was in place.
Family was also barred from congregating on the field after the game. Players wore masks and had temperatures checked three times a day in the week leading up to the Shrine Bowl.
“I really do think we kept kids safe as possible,” said Shrine Bowl Executive Director BJ Harris. “I think we stuck to our gameplan and hopefully they go home healthy and safe.”
Albertini felt the week's opportunity — one his older brother, Anthony, got to experience two years ago — was more than worth the precautions.
“It was an amazing experience meeting a lot of new people,” Albertini said. “That’s something that hasn’t happened much with the pandemic lately. So to come together for a week and enjoy football with people that have the same dreams, it’s amazing.”
Johnston will continue his football career at Kansas Wesleyan University. As for Albertini, he's following his older brother to the Pittsburg State University squad.
“I’m not going to be another 8-Man feel-good story,” Albertini said. “I may not play this year or next year. But I’m going to work my tail off. By the end of my time at Pitt State, I’m going to be making plays on the field.”