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East coach Will Robb goes through some plays with the offense during afternoon practice Tuesday at Eastern Oregon University. (BRAD MOSHER/The Observer)
East team hopes to surprise rivals in 8-man battle Saturday
It may not be home cooking, but the East coaches are looking to surprise their foes in the last 8-man All-Star football game in La Grande until 2016.
They are hoping to find a winning recipe against a talent-laden squad from west of the Cascades.
The all-star game will be moving to Linfield College campus for a two-year stay before the game comes back to Eastern Oregon.
The East team has talent.
They have one running back who had ran for 305 yards and scored nine touchdowns — in one game.
They also have several players from a program so successful it has outgrown the 1A division and will be moved into the 2A division in the fall of 2014.
Imbler has three players — Jaden Bales, Rowdy Graves and Casey Robertson on the squad.
Graves was a first-team all-state selection as a defensive lineman for a team that lost in the semifinals to Camas Valley. He was named to the second team as a center.
Robertson was named to the second team as a wide receiver and was honorable mention as a linebacker.
Bales carried the ball 94 times for 1,098 yards and 11 touchdowns. His longest scoring run was for 82 yards.
On offense, Robertson caught 25 passes for 625 yards. He also had 195 yards rushing, giving Robertson 833 all-purpose yards.
In addition, there will be two players from Cove — Brandon Batty and Cameron McCowan on the East squad Saturday.
Sherman County quarterback Riley Brown is one of two on the East team roster. Paxton Shira of Adrian will also be sharing time with Brown Saturday. (BRAD MOSHER/The Observer)
Wallowa will have the head coach, Bill Robb, and Wes Conrad on the field.
The East also has some Antelope power, with quarterback Paxton Shira, Juan Munoz-Rivera, Kurtis Neilson and Danny Livas from the Adrian squad that was unbeaten in the High Desert League.
The speedy Antelopes finished with a 7-3 record, falling to Triad in the state playoffs by a 62-52 margin.
The Antelopes’ high-octane offense scored more than 70 points in four games and averaged that over a 10-game season.
Adrian handed Wallowa a 78-28 loss on the road, then Mitchell/Spray lost to the Lopes by an 84-8 margin.
A week later, Adrian hammered Prairie City 84-24. Jordan Valley lost to the
The “Green Machine” from Adrian also had two near-misses with the 70-point mark — beating Harper/Huntington 66-18 and Monument/Dayville 56-6.
But Adrian doesn’t have the monopoly on speed, said Wallowa coach Bill Robb. Robb is also the head coach for the East team.
“We have got a few fast kids,” Robb said.
That speed may be one of the keys to East getting a win Saturday. “It is going to have to be because the West has got size and speed — but so do we.
“It ought to be a helluva game,” Robb said.
The East will have Shira and Brown sharing the time as quarterback Saturday, Robb said. Conrad, who played quarterback at Wallowa for Robb, will be used primarily as a wide receiver.
When it comes to runners, the East will have plenty of depth, the coach said.
“We have Colton Eubanks from Powder Valley. He’s a great athlete with lots of speed and good hands. He’s the real deal,” Robb said.
Eubanks tore through Pine Eagle last season for 305 yards.
Echo’s Jacob Easton will be the starting fullback for the East.
Robb will have Robertson as the starting tight end Saturday, while Graves will be the starting center.
Graves has really impressed Robb during the week of practices at Eastern Oregon University. “Man, he is a good center. That kid is smart. He takes command of the offense and knows exactly what his guards and tight ends need to do for blocking schemes.
“He is a huge key in what we are doing (on offense),” Robb said.
Batty will be starting defensive end for the East and also the second tight end. “He’s another great athlete,” Robb added.
Batty’s teammate from Cove, McCowan, also has caught Robb’s attention. “He’s starting at right guard and he is another great,
Condon/Wheeler’s Justin Irzik has made an impact during practice, Robb said.
“That is one impressive football player. He is big, mean and fast,” said Robb.
Because Condon/Wheeler didn’t make the playoffs, Irzyk might be someone that can really surprise the West players, the East coach said.
That’s just what Robb wants to give the West — a big surprise.