The Shrine Bowl, 2002

How does everyone mark the beginning of the upcoming football season? To me, it is marked by the playing of the Nebraska High School All-Star Shrine Bowl. Last night young men from all over the great state of Nebraska took the field for the playing of the 44th annual Shrine Game.

Every year the participants in this great event get the opportunity to travel north to Minnesota to visit the children that benefit from the proceeds to this game.  Almost to a person the players say this is the real highlight of the week.  They get to see first hand why the game is played.  For some it makes a memory forever. 
It was a balmy night in Lincoln as the two teams took the field. Okay it was darn hot. Temperatures over 100 degrees met the players as they took the field. Down on the field turf on Tom Osborne field the temp was around 130 degrees. The game begged to be played despite the extreme conditions.
The game finally got under way about 7pm. Conditions were starting to improve as the sun made its way behind the sky boxes located on the west side of the field.  Ready for football? Hope so, as the players had determined it was 'hittin weather'. For an all-star game there was plenty of pad popping going on.
It was a defensive battle from the beginning. An early sign of things to come, the North had the ball first and a fumble was promptly forced by the fired-up South defense. The South took over inside the North's ten yard line. Not be outdone the North defense promptly shut the South offense down and held the South on fourth down inside the one yard line. 
The North was then forced to punt from deep in its own territory after only picking up one first down, a good catch and run by Husker TE recruit Matt Herian. The South took over on the 50 yard line. Immediately the South went with a trick play, a halfback play. Executed beautifully, it was a perfectly thrown 50 yard touchdown pass by David Horne, the Neb recruit out of Omaha Central to Van Slyke out of Pius X. This play led to David Horne being named Offensive player of the game.
The game went back and forth the rest of the first half with the North defense having to make another stand deep in its own territory to keep the game at 7-0 with the South leading.
The second half again was mainly highlighted by excellent defensive play for both teams.  The North did have an 82 yard drive to tie the score at sevens in the third quarter. On the first play of the fourth quarter Alonzo Martinez of Papillion-LaVista kicked a 33 yard field goal for the South to once again lead 10-7. 
The North marched 75 yards late in the game. The drive ended with a 31 yard field goal from Greg Kisor, tying the score at 10-10. The game then went into overtime.
Overtime was much the same, highlighted by a big defensive play. Following a pass interference call on Jared Ruffin of the North squad the South had the ball on the five yard line. Jay Moore of Elkhorn, another Husker recruit, tipped a Garret Mehl pass that Ruffin intercepted. 
The North takes over possession of the ball and coolly Greg Kisor, the UNO recruit, kicks the game winning 26 yard field goal. What a finish to a hard fought game by both squads. 
The name of the game out there was defense. Both teams came with their game faces and ready to hit.  So many big plays by players from both squads, there was no clear cut defensive player of the game. So by default it went to Nate Wurth out of Omaha Westside for his punting. Nate averaged 58 yards on three punts for the game. 
An estimated 4500 fans witness the game. They were well entertained by these young men on a very hot night. It was the second overtime Shrine Bowl game in the last three years. For some of these young men it was the last time they were don the pads. They probably wished it would have went all night.
Comments on certain players, in particular Neb recruits or walk-ons:
David Horne carried the ball 17 times for 40 yards. He was elusive and several times turned potential losses into small gains. The halfback pass was a very good throw right on the money. He has some work to do to become a great I-Back at Neb. He will be given the time as he most likely will redshirt this coming season.
Matt Herian showed the most of the Neb recruits. The young man out of Pierce showed good hands in traffic, and showed off his speed on a couple of occasions getting outside the aggressive South defense for good gains. He is going to have to become a bit stronger blocker on the edge, but nobody is better at teaching that than Ron Brown.
Trevor Neeman the RE out of Lincoln SE had his named called for tackles a few times.  He is going to be a Husker in the spring of 2003. Trevor showed good ability and quickness off the ball. The negative I witnessed is he did not wrap up well on tackles. 
Dane Todd, the fullback recruit out of Grand Island seemed to struggle a bit. He had 3 carries for 10 yards. Known for his blocking ability out of high school he was struggled handling the quick LB's from the North squad.  He has some growing to do and when Boyd gets thru with him we will see.
Jay Moore was steady throughout the evening at RE for the North squad. No plays for the highlight reel until the tipped pass in OT. However that play could not have come at a better time. Jay has never really played RE before so he has a ways to go on the learning curve. His penetration was good all night and he did a good job of not getting caught out of position. Remember Jay has never played with his hand on the ground prior to this game. He has some adjustments to make.
Andrew Shanle out of St Edward, played offense in this game will be lining up at Safety for the Huskers. Andrew had 2 catches in the game. He was originally scheduled to delay enrollment until Jan 2003 but there is a good chance he joins the team for fall camp in a about 10 days now.
Kade Pittman another Neb recruit scheduled for enrollment in the spring of 2003 did not show very much. He has speed and quickness. At this time it is unsure if he will be a CB or a WB. 

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