|Top football, volleyball players showcased as West Nebraska All-Stars|
|June 10, 2016 Frank Marquez|
Some of the Panhandle’s best high school athletes will be featured in the 2016 West Nebraska All-Star football and volleyball games on June 11, Saturday.
Two running backs and four linemen, including Mitchell’s Drew Gilliland and Wyatt McMillen; Gering’s Deion Contreras; Bayard’s Ethan Marker and Zaine Gallegos; and Scottbluff’s Shane Smith will play for the West team in the 38th All-Star football game at Bearcat Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. The West will be coached by Chris Seebohm of Alliance. He will be assisted by Mitchell’s Jimmie Rhodes, and on defense by Bayard’s Randy McKibbin and Perkins County’s Carlie Wells.
Gering’s Allie Boggs and Scottsbluff’s Aly Camacho will play for the West team in the 32nd All-Star Volleyball game at Cougar Palace on the campus of Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff. The first serve is scheduled for 2 p.m. The West team will be coached by Gering’s David Lashley; he’ll be assisted by Kimball’s Jeri Ferguson.
Coach Seebohm said, “Our strategy is to get all our player in positions to be successful; we’re going to find out where everyone fits best, and use that to our advantage.” Other stipulations include no unbalanced line on offense, and special teams can return the ball if it is caught in the end zone.
“It’s all geared to promote offense,” said West Nebraska All-Stars spokesperson Jeff Kelley.
“No one really wants to see a low scoring game.”
Coach Rhodes added, “The offense will have more free reign than defense. They can run anything they want and really open it up.”
On defense, McKibbin and Wells will be relegated to running a prescribed 4-3 scheme with four down linemen and three linebackers, and no variations until a team gets within 10 yards of the end zone. Until then, blitzes are prohibited.
Mitchell running back and receiver Gilliland said, “This is a good experience. I have been around it for a long time. My grandpa (Terry Gilliland) was a long-time coach at Mitchell, and a member of the All-Star committee.”
Gilliland said he’ll play receiver during the game. Next year, he’ll be playing football and running track on scholarship at the University of Nebraska, Kearney. As for depth, and how he’ll fit in there, he said, “A few guys have left and graduated. So, there’ll be a fairly fresh group there.”
Gering’s Contreras, 19, has improved over the past two years, but unfortunately it didn’t carry over to wins for his beloved Bulldogs. He considers himself fortunate to be playing in the All-Star game, he said because he’ll “be playing with some good guys, and looking forward to getting to learn from them.”
Contreras started playing football in seventh grade up until he was a freshman at Lingle–Fort Laramie High School (Wyoming). He said he’s always been a running back, but will be playing defensive back for the All-Star game. Next year, he’ll start his journey to become a surgical technician at Western Nebraska Community College.
In representing the West’s volleyball squad, Scottsbluff High School product Aly Camacho said, when she was picked, she was super excited. “This is for every player who takes the game seriously; we’re playing against the best of the best at the high school level. Camacho played on the basketball All-Star team last weekend. The West in blue jerseys won 57-53 with Camacho scoring 7 points. Next year, she’ll attend Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte to play volleyball.
Gering’s Allie Boggs, said, “It’s an honor to play on the All-Stars team. Meeting new teammates and being on the same team together is awesome. I’ve played against some of them for so long in high school and in club volleyball. I’m going to miss two of my teammates Abby Kiesel and Lauren Shaul, both who were selected for the All-Stars team, but instead had obligations in New York.”
Boggs, who’ll attend the South Dakota School of Mines, will continue an old rivalry with fellow All-Star Chadron’s Chandler Hageman, who’ll be playing next year at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota.
“I’m pretty social as a volleyball player, and in general,” Boggs aid. “I enjoy getting to know some of my other teammates.”
Gering’s David Lashley will serve as the All-Star team’s head coach. He’ll be assisted by Kimball’s Jeri Ferguson. Lashley, who coached the All-Star team in 1991 and in Wyoming’s all-star contest in the late ‘90s, said, “The caliber of athlete and quality of volleyball is higher. This is a situation in which we can develop as a team, getting players in the right position and on the same page. The game has gotten somewhat generic these days. A lot of the girls have played club ball, so they know what to expect. Also, a lot of them are leaders on their own teams, and will have to play a different role. That’s what they do in college, too. With Boggs’ loud mouth and giving pats on the back, she’ll be able to get them going.”
As for how both the football and volleyball teams have been decided, organizers set the boundaries for representation in the All-Start contests. Starting in 2015, they made the decision to add a total of nine schools to the East. They are Holdrege, Elm Creek, Ansley-Litchfield, Twin Loup, Overton, Alma, Bertrand, Loomis and Sumner-Eddyville-Miller (SEM). Formerly belonging to the East, seven schools were assigned to the West. They are McCook, Hershey, Sutherland, Paxton, Valentine, Sandhills-Thedford, and Stapleton.
To balance the teams, with the West having 33 schools and an enrollment of 4,520 students, and the East having 37 schools with an enrollment of 3,996 students, the West is made up of 15 eleven-man schools, 15 eight-man schools, and 4 six-man schools, while the East comprises 10 eleven-man schools, 20 eight-man schools, and 6 six-man schools.
As for how the game will be played, no player is necessarily assigned a position. Coaches will use players according to their talent and athletic abilities versus the position they played at their respective schools.
Going to the games. At the football and football games, tickets are $7 for adults, and $5 for children 12 and younger. If attending both games, add two dollars, $9 for adults, and $7 for children 12 and younger.