A fine Shrine time for Yoder

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Jacob Yoder visits with a friend he made at the Shriners Hospital for Children in St. Louis (courtesy photo)

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Yoder receives congratulations from one of the West coaches during pregame player introductions

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Yoder listens to instructions from defensive coordinator Randy Dreiling from Hutch High

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Yoder comes off the field following kickoff coverage.

Lightning strikes near and on the field at Welch Stadium in Emporia made Jacob Yoder?s Shrine Bowl experience even more memorable than it would have otherwise been.

The Hillsboro High all-league offensive back and punter played defense and special teams Saturday for the West squad in the annual Kansas all-star game.

Lightning in the area prompted a 55-minute delay during the second quarter of the contest, but it was as an electric 17-yard touchdown pass followed by a 2-point conversion pass, both from Reming?ton?s Cole Cherryholmes, with 20 seconds left in the game that gave the West a dramatic 29-28 victory.

?I?ll definitely remember the way it ended,? Yoder said. ?You couldn?t ask for a more exciting game.?

The victory capped a week that was memorable for a variety of reasons. Players from across the state arrived at their respective team camps on Friday, July 18. The West squad practiced at St. John?s Military Academy in Salina while the East team went straight to Emporia.

The next day, all the players took the trip to the Shriner?s Hospital for Children in St. Louis. Proceeds from the football game go toward providing free care for children with a wide range of disabilities.

?That was quite an experience,? Yoder said. ?We got to the hospital and there were about four or five kids there. We were interacting with them and it was amazing how ?up? the kids were. They had horrible physical disabilities, but every single one of them had a smile on their face.

?They were telling us how we?re their heroes and that we were the best thing that ever came through there?at least that?s what they made you feel like.?

Back at training camp, the West squad began with a three-practice day the first day back, but the intense summer heat prompted the coaches to go to two a day the rest of the week.

Yoder, a linebacker and defensive back for HHS much of his senior season, found himself playing corner and safety for the West.

?I had never really played corner that much,? Yoder said. ?I played safety quite a bit, but they had me playing corner quite a bit during the game. That was a little different, but I adjusted fine.?

The former Trojan, who was in on several tackles during the contest, said he was nervous as game time approached, but by the second half felt at ease.

?I definitely could have done better, but I was happy with my play,? Yoder said.

Though the game was for charity, Yoder said the West squad was on a mission to win.

?We?d been talking about it all week,? he said. ?The game is for the kids, but we also wanted to win the game. The West has won it the past couple of years and we wanted to continue that streak.?

Yoder said his overall Shrine Bowl experience met every expectation.

?It was a great week,? he said. ?I met a lot of good people. The experience I take away from it I?ll remember the rest of my life.?

Yoder will be playing this fall for Hutchinson Community College. Football camp begins there Aug. 6, followed by regular preseason practices.

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