HAYS — It was a case of the West squad being bigger, faster and stronger than the East in the 38th Annual Shrine Bowl.
Heck, it’s been that way in the recent past and it was more of the same Saturday night as the West rolled to a 30-7 victory, its sixth straight win over the East in the benefit all-star game.
The West rolled up 350 net rushing yards, including 132 yards on 14 carries for Dreamius Smith and 104 yards on 15 carries for Norton's Terrell Lane, to turn it into a runaway.
Smith, a product of Class 6A state-champion Wichita Heights, simply wore out the outmanned East. He was selected as the West’s most outstanding player.
“We just put in good work during the two-a-days in practice,” Smith said. “Working hard and keeping each other up during drills.
“Coach (Rick) Wheeler (from Heights) told us that it would pay off in the game. We just stuck together as a team, got this accomplished and kept the streak going.”
Smith originally signed at the University of Kansas, but is headed to defending NJCAA national runner-up Butler after having a low ACT score.
“I think I played all right,” Smith said. “I just followed our linemen and see what I could do.”
The East’s most outstanding player was linebacker Alec Steuber of Topeka Hayden.
Great Bend’s Greg Hildebrand switched off at quarterback with Hutchinson Trinity’s Derek Racette throughout the game. Hildebrand was added to the West roster just nine days ago after Liberal’s Jade Cathey never showed up.
Hildebrand was busy working at the local swimming pool in Great Bend when he got the call to come to camp at Salina South.
“I had no idea a little over a week ago,” said Hildebrand, who was voted as one of the West’s team captains by his teammates. “But the last week has been amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better week.
“It was the best week of the summer, actually. The guys and camaraderie we had, you can’t explain it.”
In an offensive struggle early on, the West seized an 8-0 lead with 2:07 remaining before halftime on a two-yard plunge by starting quarterback Derek Racette, along with his two-point conversion, a lead that stood up at halftime.
The West had 12 of its 19 first downs in the second half, where it also had 217 of its rushing yards to seize command.
Smith had a 10-yard TD bolt with 59 seconds left in the third quarter to make it 14-0.
After the East turned the ball over on the ensuing kickoff, Racette showed his escapability by eluded a pass rush and scrambling before finding Meade product Kellen Hernandez for a 66-yard catch-and-run for a score to hike the margin to 20-0.
“Derek is a good quarterback,” Hildebrand said. “He can run and he can pass and he’s very elusive.
“He was a runner and I was more of a passer, even though we didn’t pass very much.
“Other than that, we worked well together.”
Stueber’s 49-yard fumble recovery with 5:11 remaining helped the East avoid a shutout.
The West had a team safety with 2:37 left to close the scoring.
Racette finished with 10 carries for 27 yards while completing one of two passes for 66 yards, his scoring pass to Hernandez.
Hildebrand had four carries for seven yards, and completed two of five passes for 18 yards
Torres wins run
Rubi Torres of Great Bend won the girls’ two-mile run in the sweltering heat before the all-star game. Her time was not available.