cBY JIM MISUNAS
TOPEKA — Great Bend's Dalton Miller and Great Bend coach Erin Beck celebrated a hard-fought 13-9 West victory over the East in Saturday's 47th Kansas Shrine Bowl football game.
Miller busted wide open on a 44-yard touchdown run when Manhattan's Tyce Hoover crushed DeSoto linebacker Luke Barger with a trap block at the 8:01 mark in the third quarter for a 14-3 lead.
The West featured an offensive line of Smith Center center Joel Montgomery, Garden City's Charirez Refugio, Beloit's Creighton Johnson and Conway Springs' Dawson Martin at guards and Lakin's Hadley Panzer, Valley Center's Tony Caldwell and Republic County's Eyann Zimmerman at tackles.
"We ran a counter play that the offensive line executed," Beck said. "Dalton was excited to get into the endzone. He'll go down as one of the greatest football players in Great Bend history."
Miller shifted to the offensive backfield when Hoisington all-state tailback Wyatt Pedigo, the Cardinals' all-time leading rusher, was unable to play because he had to quarantine after a trip to North Dakota.
"I was so heartbroken for Wyatt Pedigo. We were excited to see him," Beck said. "We had to bring Dalton Miller back to the offense. Defenses are quite a bit ahead in games like this. Offense is tougher. We did a good job executing drives."
Miller said his goal was to bust one play.
"Coach Beck told me to just break one run. It felt It felt great," Miller said. "It could've been any one of us backs in there. The line blocked great."
Miller said the Shrine Bowl benefits a lot of children in the Midwest and was important to play.
"It's a really big deal for a lot of people," Miller said. "It's way bigger than just a football game. It was a great experience, one that I'll remember my whole life."
Beck said it was a stressful week of practice after several months of inactivity due to the threat of the coronavirus.
"They made sure we were doing everything we needed to do to keep everything safe," Beck said. "We isolated ourselves and got back to normal. We took it day-by-day. We never knew what would happen. To play football this fall, we knew we needed to play safe and be smart."
Beck said the busy week was enjoyable with the West coaches.
"It was very exciting to get back to football," Beck said. "It was a great experience, a lot of fun. It was a lot of football in a short period of time. It took a while to get everybody on the same page."