Imbler trio cap off high school careers with All-Star Game loss

By Eric Avissar, The Observer June 23, 2014 09:09 am

Kyle Johnson throws a pass during the OACA 1A All-Star Game Saturday at EOU. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
Kyle Johnson throws a pass during the OACA 1A All-Star Game Saturday at EOU. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
 

The Oregon Athletic Coaches Association 1A All-Star Game at Eastern Oregon Saturday was a final opportunity for several recent standout graduates to cap off their careers with former high school teammates and foes. Unfortunately for Imbler’s Kyle Johnson, Cole Campbell and Riley Merrigan, the West walloped the East by a 43-6 margin.

As a quarterback for the East, Johnson scored the lone touchdown for the team, making a 2-yard run down the middle to cut the West’s lead to 20-6. Johnson said scoring gave him a sense of nostalgia after Imbler won last season’s 1A state championship.

“It’s pretty painful to lose a game, but it’s always nice to be able to look back and remember winning a state title last November,” Johnson said. 

Johnson played the game with a considerable amount of pain, having torn his ACL last February playing basketball, and broke his thumb during the game. He said he will keep resting his knee, and will attend Eastern Oregon University in the fall.

Despite the loss, Merrigan said he was happy to play one last game to cap off his career.

“It was great to go out and play with the guys who were the best players during the whole season,” Merrigan said. “I was really glad I got to go out and play one last game.”

Merrigan, who played mainly defensive end as a senior, plans to attend the University of Idaho in the fall, where he will study chemical engineering. Campbell was a two-time all state player as an offensive and defensive lineman for the Panthers, and plans to join the U.S. Navy.

The Panthers will enter next football season entering a period of transition. After playing 8-on-8 football at the 1A level for the past 10 years, they will make the jump to 11-on-11 football at the 2A level next fall.and 3,000, and his head coach doesn’t mince words when talking about his place in the history of the school.

“He’s the best boy distance runner I’ve ever had,” Enterprise head man Dan Moody said.

Helping Ribich raise the bar even higher in his final season at Enterprise was increase in size that stemmed from his attitude.

For the full story, see Monday's issue of The Observer