By Leo Haggerty

Yes, college and pro football fans, it’s that time of year again where the collegiate and professional All Star games have commenced. The opener is always the oldest one, the East-West Shrine Game, and that’s where I am today.

The Shrine Game has evolved into a contest where the participants are primarily middle to late round draft choices along with free agents.    Don’t let that fool you into thinking this game is just a collection of future NFL backups. These guys are going full tilt with the hitting being fierce.  Over 100 players from the 2017 game signed contracts  to play in the National Football League so there is a lot of talent on display.

Normally, with All Star games, the defense is way ahead of the offense.  That’s because there’s only 3 or 4 practices before game time and that’s not enough time to install any kind of offensive scheme.

As you would expect, these All Star games are generally low-scoring affairs. The 93rd Shrine Game was no exception.

Only one touchdown was scored in the first half and, low and behold, it was by the West defense.  With East QB J.T Barrett (Ohio State) having a pass deflected that ended up going backwards, that made it a fumble and not an incomplete pass. S Natrell Jameson (Wisconsin) realized this and scooped and scored. K Matthew McCrane (Kansas State) converted the PAT to give the West a 7-0 advantage.

The East got on the scoreboard right before halftime.  K Drew Brown (Nebraska) split the uprights to get the East to within 7-3 at the intermission.

The second half was almost a carbon copy of the first.  That means that defense was still the order of the day.

Late in the third quarter, the East took its first lead of the game.  Barrett hit DE Martin (Slippery Rock) on a short pass to make the score 10-3.

Yes, you read that right.  #33 lined up as a blocking back in their goal line heavy package and slid out of the backfield to make the grab for the TD.

The score stay that way until late in the game when the West took the lead back for good.  QB Nic Shinomek (Texas Tech) found WR Steven Dunbar with the winning TD pass with 1:32 left in the contest that made the final arithmetic 14-10.  

There’s really no losers in this game.  Both teams got a chance to mingle with the children that are helped by the Shriners Hospitals.  Plus, the 21,700 in attendance were treated to very entertaining football.  Winners all around.