By Joe Sova
Even though the final score of Saturday's 52nd annual East-West Shrine All-Star Football Game is immaterial, the competition will be just as fierce as any other contest involving young athletes.
The Shrine game kicks off at 7 p.m. Saturday at Bulldog Mem-orial Stadium in Baker City.
In last year's game, the East blanked the West, 14-0.
East head coach Bill Yester of Myrtle Point and assistants Tim Dodson (Siuslaw) and Dan Taylor (South Wasco) have had 30 players in workouts this week at Eastern Oregon University. Ron Sixberry is the East manager.
John Mattila of Warrenton is head coach of the West squad. He's assisted by Ben Buchanan (Banks) and Todd Shirley (Powers). Larry Marshall is the team manager.
The Shrine golf tournament began at 8 a.m. today at Buffalo Peak Golf Course in Union. A player/family barbecue is set for 5 p.m. near Community Stadium on the EOU campus.
Saturday, there will be a cattle women's breakfast at 6:30 a.m. at the Union County Fairgrounds. The Shrine parade in Baker City begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by the invitation-only queen's social at SunRidge. The Al Kader barbecue is at 1 p.m.
Sweet Home High School 2004 graduate Ashley Leann Horn is the East queen. The West queen is Shelbi Keffer, who will be a senior at Henley High School.
A pregame ceremony begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at Bulldog Memorial Stadium. Ken Ridings, a junior at Rex Putnam High School in Milwaukie, is the honorary co-captain. He was introduced to Shriners Hospital with a back problem at age 8. After treatment and further testing, it was determined that Ridings had multiple brain and spinal tumors. Throughout his battle, Shriners Hospital has assisted Ridings with physical therapy, orthotics and surgery to improve his walk.
Ridings' illness has not stopped him from kayaking, snow boarding and horseback riding.
"The Shriners treat the whole child, not just the illness," Ridings said.
East to use platoon system
"We've had only a week of practice, but I feel they're learning. They're getting the system down," Yester said Wednesday. "It's all new to them. There is one kid who knows my system. There is one kid defensively who knows coach Dodson's system.
"I still think their athletic ability is going to shine on Saturday night," Yester added. "We're feeling pretty good that they know what to do."
With 30 players on the East team, everyone will get playing time.
"We're going to completely platoon," Yester said. "We'll have 11 different starters on offense and defense."
Those who don't start on offense or defense will do so on special teams, the coach said.
"We're going to get everybody a lot of time. We're going to rotate kids throughout the game," Yester said. "This is an all-star game, not a regular high school game. All these kids have something to contribute."
The East coaches have been shuffling players in practice.
"We have five kids we're rotating at quarterback," Yester explained, "and they all deserve some time. I'm going to try to get all of them some snaps. I want to get them all a series or so."
Yester indicated that those players who get a lot of time on offense probably won't play much on defense, and vice versa.
The East will keep it basic on offense.
"We're not doing a real lot of things," Yester said. "When we feel they've got something we move on and add some things. That way things have gone pretty well."
Yester said Dodson's defensive scheme appears to be working well.
"I really like his defense and what he's done with it," Yester said. "We have some different things to do out of it. We're not going to get real deep into what we all do."
The competitive nature of the all-stars will be evident Saturday, according to Yester.
"You're going to get ready to play. You're going to play hard," Yester said. "The kids at the Shriners Hospital are going to get a lot of things because of this, and get a lot of help and a lot things are going to get paid for.
"To me everybody wins," Yester added.