Receiving an invitation to the West Nebraska All-Star game is a tremendous honor. Before the football season starts in the fall of the previous year, many student-athletes set the all-star game as a personal goal, whether it’s to represent their school one more time, or to follow in a family member’s footsteps.
On this year’s West team, Gering’s Max Closson and Kimball’s Zane Anthony are among those that have family members that participated in the all-star game in the past. Closson’s older brother, Alex, made the roster in 2015. Like his older brother, Max is the only Gering graduate on this years West team.
Anthony’s connection to the all-star game goes back 40 years. Marc Anthony, Zane’s uncle, participated in the all-star game in 1979. He finished with 47 yards on three catches in the all-star game, giving Zane a little extra motivation to pass him.
Anthony’s road to the all-star game had several obstacles as well. As a sophomore, he tore his ACL and struggled, like many do, to get back to 100%.
“I finally proved myself this year and it was a lot of fun,” Anthony said. “It was always my goal to play at Bearcat Stadium and I finally get the opportunity to do that. My goal on Saturday is to pass (Marc).”
Both Closson and Anthony said that following a family member in the all-star game made it mean a little more.
“It was a big goal for me,” Closson said of being selected to the all-star game. “My brother played in it and was the only one selected from Gering. I wanted to play my senior year the hardest that I could to get to the all-star game.”
The West team had their first opportunity to practice on Wednesday at Scottsbluff High School. The West team is loaded with local talent from all over the Panhandle.
Three former Scottsbluff teammates will suit up one last time together, Jeremiah Delzer, Keegan Reifschneider and Cameron Geary.
Geary said he wasn’t expecting the call to make the all-star game but jumped on his opportunity when it came.
“I’ve been watching it for a while now and I’m just glad I have the opportunity to have some fun,” Geary said. “I didn’t think I was going to make it just because we had a lot of talent on our team, so I thought I was gonna miss the mark. But when I got the call I was super excited.”
When it comes back to the football aspect of the all-star game, this won’t be your average all-star game. Or at least that’s the thought from West head coach Jimmie Rhodes.
When the 2019 West Nebraska All-Star Football Game kicks off on Saturday, Rhodes wants his West team to fly around, light up the scoreboard and most of all, have fun.
“We’re going to be flying around,” Rhodes said. “We have a lot of skill guys, athletes at linebacker that can go sideline to sideline and we have running backs that can go.
“We’re not going to be lining up with a fullback, tight end and a tailback and just smashing up in there. We’re going to try to spread the ball out, get the ball to our playmakers, have fun and go deep.”
Kickoff for the 41st annual West Nebraska All-Star game is slated for 7 p.m., Saturday at Bearcat Stadium in Scottsbluff. A portion of the proceeds from the West Nebraska contests benefit local organizations.
Here are the full rosters for both teams:
Zane Anthony, Kimball; Tommy Bragg, Gordon-Rushville; Ian Carrier, Mitchell; Max Closson, Gering; Justin Davis, Hemingford; Jeremiah Delzer, Scottsbluff; Parker Dillon, Chase County; Arik Doty, Sidney; Dan Dunbar, Chadron; Evan Fisher, Chase County; Brayden Fowler, Valentine; Cameron Geary, Scottsbluff; Gage Haake, Sandhills-Thedford; Baily Hood, Alliance; Jacob Krutsinger Haines, Dundy County; Jake Lemmon, Chadron; Ephroen Lovato, Minatare; Alex Maddox, Sidney; Isaac Margrits, Hershey; Lane McGinley, Valentine; Devon Osnes, Valentine; Lucas Paloucek, Ogallala; Cade Payne, Hemingford; Zach Pettit, Sidney; Cameron Raffaeli, Ogallala; Trent Reed, Hay Springs; Keegan Reifschneider, Scottsbluff; Clark Reisen, Chadron; Chandler Stinson, Alliance; Josh Swanson, Ogallala; Kadin Vrbas, Chase County; Scott Wheeler, Chase County.
Head Coach: Jimmie Rhodes, Mitchell
Assistant coaches: Brent Bauer, Ogallala; Nick Kuxhausen, Mitchell; J.J. Ozuna, Minatare.
Nick Bocott, North Platte; Dylan Boggs, Bertrand; Hunter Bose, North Platte; Treyvon Brooks, Broken Bow; Leighton Bubak, South Loup; Alec Bunger, McCook; Adam Cole, Cozad; Drew Drake, Broken Bow; Aaron Drews, Holdrege; Lane Edis, Mullen; Morgan Fawver, McCook; Grayson Garey, Broken Bow; CAden Geiken, Gothenburg; Dillon Geiser, Cozad; Colin Giron, McCook; Yordi Gutierrez, Arapahoe; Dalton Harchelroad, Wauneta-Palisade; Jake Heerten, North Central; Blake Hoffmaster, Cozad; Jordan Holen, Bertrand; Jake Johnson, North Platte; Colton Munger, Keya Paha; Nick Niesen, North Platte St. Pat’s; Miles Peterson, Bertrand; Brennan Seitsinger, Gothenburg; Gabe Senhert, McCook; Jalen Starks, Lexington; Brad Swanson, North Platte; Paxton Terry, McCook; Keaton Trampe, Elm Creek; Austin Wolfe, Medicine Valley; Jade Wurth, Lexington.
Head coach: Brian Cargill, Cozad
Assistant coaches: Ron Bubak, Cozad; Dustin Kronhofman, Arapahoe; Dreu Young, Cozad