East-West game a success

By Observer staff June 27, 2012 02:19 pm
The 23rd edition of the eight-man East-West all-star game was one that will be remembered for years to come.

The 23rd edition of the eight-man East-West all-star game was one that will be remembered for years to come.

According to commissioner Chuck Steeves of Crane, roughly 500 people showed up to the game, a better turnout than in the last couple of years.

This was the first time since 2009 that the game was played in Community Stadium.

“It was an awesome
turnout,” Steeves said.

With that said, Steeves added that he would like to try and get the all-star game moved to La Grande every year, something that he will bring up in future meetings.

“It’s something that all of the 1A coaches in the state vote on. It’s easier for me having it out here. But we’ll see how it goes,” Steeves said.

The game switches back and forth from Linfield College and EOU every two years.

And while the turnout was one thing, the game itself was on another level.

A back-and-forth battle ended with an East touchdown with 54 seconds remaining, giving the host team a narrow 24-20 victory. It’s the second straight victory in the series for the East team, which now leads 12-11 all-time.

“I think it was one of the best games in the 23 years we’ve played it. I’d rank it in the top two or three.

“I think it is a great testament to the coaches involved in getting a team ready in just a week and then making adjustments throughout,” Steeves said.

“And as far as the competitiveness of the game, both teams came out ready to play.”

Coaching a group of players who have never played together is no easy task, but getting a group of 18-year-old kids to gel in just one week’s time is a task in itself.

East coach Stub Travis of Crane was coaching the game for his first time, not to say he hasn’t had the opportunity in years past.

“I’ve had to turn it down in the past. It’s kind of expensive taking a week off from work.

“But I’m glad I did it. I met some great coaches this week and it was a great experience with these kids,” Travis said.

Travis led Crane to the state semifinals last season where his team lost to
Perrydale, 34-32. 

That was only the second loss of the season for the 10-2 Mustangs, who also fell to Camas Valley in the season opener.

Eli Wolfe of the reigning state champions from Camas Valley coached the West.

Wolfe and the rest of the West team were forced to overcome an 18-6 deficit in the first half.

The visitors eventually did overcome the deficit to take a 20-18 lead with 2:20 left in the game, only to fall late.

Wolfe coached Camas Valley to a perfect 14-0 record last season. The Hornets defeated Perrydale 66-22 in the state title game.

But in this game, at the end of the day, it was the players who shined on the gridiron.

Andrew Fullerton is the second Imbler player to be named the MVP of the game.

Nick West earned the honors in 2009.

Fullerton had two touchdowns — including the game winner — and pulled down an interception on defense for the East.

The game is scheduled to be played in La Grande again next year, but as Steeves said, it may become a permanent fixture in Eastern Oregon for many years to come.