Shriners game leaves lasting impression
Blue Mountain Eagle
BAKER CITY – Fans attending Oregon’s 62nd Annual East West Shrine All-Star Football Game were electrified – almost – last Saturday.
Those attending got a charge not only from watching some of the best football players in the state fighting it out in the East vs. West game, but also from the sky, which produced some 3-1/2 hours of lightning delay. One strike hit just a block away from the Baker Bulldog Memorial Stadium.
In the end, the West won 15-6. With the delays, the game reached its conclusion under the stadium lights for the first time.
Several John Day-area fans were on hand to cheer the East team, which included Grant Union graduates Dalton Reimers, Tucker Wright and Rayce Houser.
Alternates included Grant Union’s Kyle Erickson and Dayville School’s Colten Winters, both 2014 grads.
Doug Gochnour, who’s refereed many Grant Union games, also put on his stripes for the game.
The opponents had a defensive and scoreless first half and remained tied at zip through nearly the entire third quarter.
“Both Rayce and Tucker played well defensively and had some good tackles,” said Grant Union football coach Jason Miller, who was in the stands. “Rayce intercepted the ball. Dalton played quarterback during the third quarter and had a couple series fourth quarter. He had a couple good receptions and what looked like a touchdown pass that was dropped.”
The West’s two touchdowns were made by the rushing Boomer Fleming, a graduate of Redmond’s Ridgeview High.
Baker High School grad Lukas Huggins scored for the East in the final seconds of the game.
The Shrine game was about a lot more than just football.
Proceeds from the game support Shiners Hospitals for Children where patients receive care regardless of their ability to pay. The fund-raising included the auction of a 1,350-pound steer at halftime – auctioned off several times with the money given back to the charity.
The athletes spent 10 days working together in practice, and the day before the game they visited Shriners Hospital for Children in Portland.
“It was definitely a humbling, life-changing experience – we take a lot of the things we have for granted,” Houser said of the hospital visit.
Houser, who will attend Pacific University in Forest Grove this fall to major in exercise science, said other memories he’ll take away from the experience include building relationships with his Grant Union teammates, and the other players and coaches.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “We bonded very quickly, and now I have a lasting friendship with those guys.”