Bayard's Stuart makes best in long-awaited all-star appearance
     2012-06-07      By Terry Gaston   
SCOTTSBLUFF — Brandon Stuart has been a fixture on the West All-Stars’ sideline at the annual West Nebraska East-West All-Star Football Game at Bearcat Stadium.

With the exception of a stormy game in 2006 that he had to stay home with dad Barry and watch the weather-torn game on TV, Stuart has served as a water boy, equipment manager and team assistant since he was a kindergartner.

After completing a record-setting career at Bayard, Stuart finally got to take the field as a member of the West All-Stars on Saturday night. Although the West was shut out 20-0, Stuart said he relished the time spent preparing for the game and ultimately playing in it.
“It was a great week, especially since I had been sitting on the sideline forever with Mom,” said Stuart, whose mom, Donna, has volunteered for the West as a certified athletic trainer and/or served on the West Nebraska All-Stars Sports Committee since 1992.
“They did a great job of covering passes,” said Stuart, who finished with eight completions on 16 attempts for 55 yards and one touchdown. As a team, the West was held to 159 total yards on 41 plays.

Stuart’s career at Bayard was nothing short of stellar. Out of a basic, spread receiver formation, he set all-class, 11-man records for the most passing yards in a game with 448; average yards per game in as season (268.6, in throwing for 2,417 yards in 2010); most career completions with 484; most completions in a season, 209, again in 2010; and most completions (38) and touchdowns (7) in a game.

For Class C2, Stuart set standards in passing in rushing with the most career yards (6,668); season yards (2,782, in 2010 with 345 yards); average per-game yardage in a season with 306.9, in 2010); passing records for his career with 5.746 — more than three miles — season completion percentage with 63.5 percent and career touchdown passes with 55.

“I never looked at them as being records, just as big accomplishments,” said Stuart, who will take his passing talents to Doane College in Crete where he expects to play on the Tigers’ junior varsity team next season.

Stuart had an all-state receiver in Spencer Jobman on his side in 2010, and Jobman later gained MVP honors in the 2011 West Nebraska All-Star Game before he headed to the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

“Brandon and I learned the system together when he was a sophomore,” Bayard coach Philep Willey said. “It was kind of nice when you get to learn it together at the same time. We knew his numbers from his junior year would be hard to replicate, but he helped the team jell and brought the kids together.”

Stuart and the West ran primarily out of a double-wing formation, although they opened up the passing game with Bayard’s spread attack. And when the West was on the short end of a 20-point East lead in the fourth quarter, he may have thrown his most perfect pass ever.

Problem was, it may have been too perfect — a 50-yard plus bullet right toward the outstretched hands of Gering receiver Dillon Wademan, who had to gain possession with the ball coming straight over his helmet.

Alas, Stuart relished the chance to complete his prep football career in the game despite the 20-point loss to the East and its powerful, run-loaded attack.

The East amassed an incredible 452 yards on the ground on an even more staggering 74 carries — only four of which went for lost yardage, none until after halftime. They were led by Gothenburg’s Tyler Aden’s 87 yards on 15 rushes, with a long run of 30 yards. Five players had 52 or more yards, all with between nine and 13 carries apiece.

“Their offense helped them, and ours never got into a rhythm,” Stuart said of the East, which had just two pass attempts with one completion for 11 yards. “They did a good job of ball control.”
Thatcher Vap of North Platte St. Patrick’s added just 26 yards on seven carries, but he had the East’s two most important carries: a 3-yarder for a touchdown 8.8 seconds before halftime, and a 1-yard plunge midway through the fourth period to cap the East scoring.
Actually, East kicking specialist Jeremy Callahan of Lexington — the farthest east school represented in the West Nebraska All-Star events — concluded the scoring with his second point-after kick, giving him eight points and breaking the 34-year-old game‘s kicking record of seven points set by Alliance grad Pete Shannon in 1994.

Callahan’s two field goals ties him with Shannon for 3-pointers.
Callahan had a first-quarter field goal of 26-yard field goal with 60 seconds left in the first period and a 24-yard shot in the third quarter, but he missed a 44-yard attempt to start the fourth period when it fell short. Callahan averaged 34.7 yards on three punts, all coming before halftime.

Special-team efforts helped give the West good field position and keep the East in its own territory. Gering punter Zach Smith averaged 35.8 yards on five kicks, with a long of 41 and two that forced the East to start at the 21-yard line. Smith also had an 11-yard return of a squib kickoff and was called out for at least one tackle. For more on Smith’s two weeks of all-star games and Legion baseball action in between camps, see Final Point on page B3.

Alberto Alvizar, who like Smith played in both the football and Panhandle Prep All-Star basketball game the previous Saturday, provided the West with its best punch with three kickoffs for 81 yards with a long of 34 yards to the West’s 46.

Wademan, a double all-star game participant as well, had the West’s only first-half reception, on a 4-yard screen from Stuart. Wademan had two other reception attempts charged as incomplete, much to the chagrin of many West faithful who felt Wademan had been interfered with on the plays, including what would have been a 50-yard TD catch from Stuart.

“It’s fun to be a part of a group from different sizes of schools,” Stuart said, “and I got to play with some great kids from all classes who can play with anybody in Nebraska.”

Finally, after 12 years on the bench, Stuart took the field and turned a lifelong dream into reality. Saturday’s result will be long forgotten for Stuart; his memories of growing up on the All-Star sidelines, on the other hand, will be priceless.

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