THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

January 23, 2004 11:00 pm

A total of seven Union and Wallowa county football seniors were selected this week to play in the East-West Shrine All-Star football game in Baker City.

Picked for the first team were Todd Baxter of Powder Valley, Randy Spaur of Wallowa and Blake Eckstein of Elgin.

Picked as alternates were Deven Thompson of Powder Valley, Travis Hoskins of Imbler, Randall Eschler of Joseph and Collin Cunningham of Enterprise.

The East-West game will be played at Baker Bulldog Stadium Aug. 7.

Baxter, the Pacific NW 8-man Player of the Year for Oregon, Idaho and Washington, led his Badger teammates to the 1A state title. Baxter had 3,951 yards passing, rushing and receiving last year, and generated 10,645 yards of offense for his entire varsity career, passing for 111 touchdowns and rushing for 53 more.

Blake Eckstein was a tailback and devastating tackler at linebacker for the Huskies. Eckstein also won the 2A state wrestling championship at 215 pounds last year, and has not lost a match since early 2002.

Randy Spaur was having a spectacular season for Wallowa. Unfortunately, in midseason, he broke both bones in his leg, ending his high school career on a down note.

Spaur had 708 yards of offense in just four-and-a-half games. He had 523 yards rushing (at a 12.4 yard-per-carry clip) and gained another 185 yards on nine catches (20.6 yards per catch). Spaur should be able to play for the Shrine game.

Thompson was a terrific offensive threat as Baxter's sidekick with the top-dog Badgers. He gained more than 1,000 yards receiving despite battling a knee injury late in the season. He was also named to the NW 8-Man All-Star Team.

Eschler had a spectacular season for Joseph, gaining more than 1,400 yards on the ground. He had 367 yards of offense last year in a single game (vs. Union), and 283 yards rushing against Enterprise.

Travis Hoskins was a wide receiver for Imbler, while Collin Cunningham was a guard and linebacker for Enterprise.

Last year, La Grande's Kyle Bomberger and Powder Valley's Brad Feik were two of the big stars for the victorious East team.