BLOOMINGTON (WCIA) — Close to 100 schools from across the state, and more than a dozen area athletes were represented at the Illinois Shrine Game in Bloomington. The athletes were split between the Red and Blue Teams, with the Blue Team winning it 28-20 in overtime. The annual all-star event was canceled last season due to the pandemic, but after a year with no postseason, the opportunity for players to represent their high school one last time made it that much more meaningful.
“It was a great experience, I had a lot of fun this week,” says Villa Grove senior Carson Howard. “Met a lot of good guys, had a lot of fun on this football field. It had a lot of good talent.”
“To be honest I’m still not ready to let go of high school football,” says Rochester runningback Jacob DuRocher. “It was really fun getting to meet all these new guys, new offense and everything. I had a lot of fun. Definitely a highlight of my life, I’ll always remember this.”
“It was awesome, it was a great experience,” says Mt. Zion’s Drew London. “Everybody that’s an all-star on one team. This whole thing, visiting the Shriners and hanging out with the kids. It’s very humbling, I loved it.”
Saturday was the 47th playing of the game to help support the mission of the Shriners Hospital for Children.
For players not playing at the next level, the Shrine Game was their last chance to play competitive football.
Maroa-Forsyth’s Wade Jostes is headed to play at St. Ambrose in the fall, but Saturday was his last chance to play for his high school coach, and his dad Josh Jostes who coached one of the teams.
“It was really cool to have him coach, it kind of felt really normal. It was pretty cool,” says Jostes. “This is his first time actually coaching in it. This is a pretty great experience and one we’ll talk about for a while I’m sure.”
Saturday’s game brings an end to one of the strangest football seasons in Illinois history. Now teams have just a few weeks to get prepared for the 2021 season.