The 47th annual Shrine Bowl will still be played today despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The all-star football game comprising Kansas’ top senior players is set for 7 pm at the Hummer Sports Complex in Topeka. The location was changed from the original venue of Washburn University due to health and safety concerns surrounding the pandemic.
If health officials don’t cancel the contest before game time, the Shrine Bowl will be just the third football game played in the US since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. Nebraska’s Shrine Bowl was last Saturday, and there was a high school all-star game with Illinois and Indiana talent on Monday.
Kansas wants to play football as well. Players from across the state have been practicing for a week, but the practice circumstances have been anything but normal. Due to coronavirus cases spiking across Kansas – and the nation – players have had their temperatures checked twice daily, equipment has been disinfected every night, masks are always on when not playing football, and there are hand sanitizers every 15 feet at hotels in downtown Topeka where players are staying.
A few area players are set to compete in the all-star game. Erie High School right guard Caype Johnston will be representing his school as a member of the East team. Boasting a size of 6’3” and 290 pounds, Johnston is like a Mack Truck, as he can move would-be defensive players like rag dolls. His talents led to an All-State Honorable Mention as a senior and an All-Tri-Valley League player as a junior. Johnston will take his stellar play to Kansas Wesleyan University thanks to a football scholarship.
Erie’s right guard has been in Topeka for a week, practicing and lifting. He said he was excited to play.
“It’s incredible to be selected and able to be here not only for the game, but for the cause we’re playing for,” Johnston said. “We have multiple guys at my position. I plan to be in the starting possession and from there me and the guys will go every other for the rest of the game.”
St. Paul’s Adam Albertini will also play in the Shrine Bowl on the East team. Albertini last season mustered up a total of 57 touchdowns while throwing for 402 yards as a wildcat quarterback en route to a 10-1 record and a trip to the Kansas State quarterfinals. The quarterback is a three-time All-State player and a three-time, first-team All-Three-Rivers League player. His talents have gotten him to Pittsburg State University, where he will play the running back position.
“The coaches are doing a great job with play sheets and giving us a great idea of what we will run in certain situations,” Albertini said. “Preparing for the game has been one of the most fun things about this week. It’s a great privilege to be able to play in this game. To be considered among the best in the state is an incredible feeling and to be selected to represent your school and community means the world to me.”
Chanute High School quarterback Ty Bowman will have to be at Kansas State University practice during the Shrine Bowl, so he will not play. Bowman last year racked up 30 total touchdowns, 1,273 yards passing and 822 rushing yards, which in the 2019 season helped lead the Blue Comets to its best record (9-2) since 2013 and to the State sectionals for the first time since 2012. Bowman was also All-SEK first-team offense, earned a nomination for Sports In Kansas’ 4A Player of the Year, and was an All-State selection for his historic year.
Bowman will move to the tight end position on the Division I level.
The Kansas Shrine Bowl represents the Shriners Hospitals for Children and their patients. Game proceeds benefit the network of 22 hospitals.