Greg Hildebrand finds himself as a late addition for the West squad for the upcoming Shrine Bowl, featuring the top graduated seniors from around the state.
The annual East-West charity event for Shriners hospitals is set for 7 on Saturday night at Lewis Field in Hays.
Hildebrand, a dual threat quarterback from Great Bend High School, joined the West camp in Salina on Friday night after a player didn’t return for drills.
“Greg got the call at 2:30 p.m. on Friday,” Great Bend head football coach Bo Black said. “He got off the lifeguard chair at the city pool and he was there by 6:30.”
Hildebrand led the Panthers to the Class 5A state playoffs last fall. Enduring the state’s toughest schedule, Great Bend finished 4-5 overall, including second place in the Western Athletic Conference with a 3-1 record.
“He made everything happen for us,” Black said. “We could go on and on about him, but he’s just a really special kid.”
The Panthers lost to eventual state runner-up Bishop Carroll in the opening round of the playoffs after coming on strong late in the season. They beat Hays and Salina South to clinch the district championship.
The catalyst on offense was Hildebrand, a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference selection, who passed for 1,464 yards — third in the WAC — and tied conference MVP Jared Helfrich of Dodge City with 14 touchdown passes during the regular season.
Hildebrand completed 122 of 207 passes and threw six interceptions through the first eight games. He had a 58.9 completion percentage.
Hildebrand also was a formidable option quarterback for the Panthers, accumulating 445 yards, ranking him No. 5 on the WAC rushing charts.
“He was dual threat that could run and throw,” Black said of Hildebrand, who plans to attend college at Kansas State University. “He led us in everything.
“He was the heart-and-soul of our football team for two years. He was Great Bend football the last two years, quite honestly.”