Like anyone who has been selected to play in the Les Schwab Bowl, Daniel Kinney had some preconceived notions of what he would experience this week in Hillsboro.

Like anyone who has been selected to play in the Les Schwab Bowl, Daniel Kinney had some preconceived notions of what he would experience this week in Hillsboro.

Four days into the process, the recent South Medford High graduate has not been disappointed.

"It's totally exceeded my expectations," Kinney, 18, said Thursday of his all-star football experience. "We're already making lots of friendships up here. The guys are awesome and the football has been great. This has been probably one of the best football weeks in my life."

And to think, Kinney hasn't even gotten to the big game on Saturday.

The Southwest Conference co-defensive player of the year is one of eight Rogue Valley standouts set to compete for the South team in Saturday's 62nd annual Les Schwab Bowl at Hillsboro Stadium. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

Joining Kinney this week in Hillsboro has been South Medford teammates Patrick Thibeault and Mitch Singler, Crater's Darrio Mobley and Kenny Fahndrich, Eagle Point's Garrett Davis, Ashland's Talon Haggard and Justin Hannah of Grants Pass.

South Medford head coach Bill Singler and Crater head coach John Beck are also serving as assistants for West Albany's Randy Nyquist on the South team.

The ability to team with the likes of linebackers Mobley and Fahndrich has especially been a treat, said Kinney.

"Those guys are definitely great athletes and a lot of fun to play with," said the 5-foot-10, 190-pound strong safety. "But, then again, everybody's been great. We've got a lot of talent on our team. It's like every play you're getting better because the guy across from you is a really good athlete. Every single guy up here can play at the next level."

It's that learning experience that Kinney is finding the most beneficial. The second-team all-state defensive back recently agreed to accept a preferred walk-on spot at Portland State, and any tips to help him get on the field next fall have been greatly appreciated.

"The coaching has been awesome this week," he said. "I've actually learned a lot of stuff up here during these daily doubles and am really excited to play in the game on Saturday."

Kinney said he's been put through the paces this week at cornerback, a position he has played sparingly over the years. Covering Mitch Singler in practice has definitely been a crash course in what to do and what not to do.

"We usually line up across from each other every couple plays," said Kinney of the first-team all-state receiver. "Mitch has beaten me deep a couple times so far but I'm getting used to cornerback."

"So far this has been the best learning experience I've ever had," he added with a chuckle. "I know how to not get beat deep now."

Hopefully that will translate into a solid performance Saturday, especially since Kinney said he expects the North team to take to the air a lot behind the arm of Lake Oswego's Jack Lomax. The Class 6A offensive player of the year threw for over 3,700 yards and 46 touchdowns last fall for the runner-up Lakers.

Adding to Saturday's excitement is the fact that the South team can even the series against the North with a win this weekend. North leads the overall series 29-28, with four ties.

"We've got to get the overall series tied between North and South in the history of this game," said Kinney. "We can't let this opportunity slip away."

Even though he won't see as much time at his natural strong safety position, Kinney is still hopeful that he'll be able to make an impact in Saturday's outcome.

"I am hoping to really have the best game of my life," he said. "I really want to prove to not only everybody watching but to Portland State that I'm a good football player and I'm worth their investment."

The Vikings got into their pursuit of Kinney late in the football signing period, but head coach Jerry Glanville said all the right things to get him to spurn other offers for a chance at playing at Portland State.

"They said they were impressed with my game film and were excited to have me come play on their team," said Kinney of the recruiting process. "I was pretty excited about that."

The excitement only grew after getting a chance to speak more with Glanville, who is still regarded as one of the foremost personalities to have coached in the NFL.

"He's quite a guy," said Kinney. "He's really nice and he's a lot of fun to be around. He has stories for anything and everything and is just quite a character."

Kinney said he hasn't talked much with the Portland State coaches about where they see him fitting in once he ventures up north, he's just looking forward to any opportunity he can get.

"I know they'll find the right spot for me and their defense is a real active defense," he said. "They've probably got a spot in mind for me and I'll try my best to play hard and give it my all."

Until then, he'll remain busy honing his skills on the field — and in the dorm rooms the players are using this week. Kinney spent time Thursday trying to teach some of the South linemen a few of his best Michael Jackson dance moves. They, in turn, were set to offer up some pointers during Thursday night's chicken wing-eating contest between the South and North squads.

"I don't think I'll be participating in that, though," said Kinney. "I'll just sit back and watch the linemen go and do their thing."

Either way, it's all part of one unforgettable experience.

SOUTH TEAM

QB — Tym Pearson, Thurston; Brian Widing, Canby; Levi Levasa, Tualatin.

RB/DB — Matt McHenry, West Albany; Patrick Thibeault, South Medford; Tony Gonzales, McKay; Taylor Johnson, Redmond; Danny Urness, Thurston; Zane Cable, Bend; Pat Cashman, Mountain View; Dominic David, South Salem; Blake Determan, Churchill; Daniel Kinney, South Medford.

OL/DL — Michael Beaton, Dallas; Javier Herrera III, Mountain View; McKenzie Freeman, Marshfield; Tyler Steele, West Salem; Aaron Boehland, Springfield; Charles Siddoway, Sheldon; Lale Ena, Hermiston; Justin Hannah, Grants Pass; Tonu Caspino, Corvallis; Reed Warner, South Salem; Paul Harris, McNary; Taylor Hart, Tualatin; John Braun, West Albany; Tim Beckman, Tigard.

LB — Lawrence Calcagno, Canby; Talon Haggard, Ashland; Darrio Mobley, Crater; Antip Kuznetsov, Canby; Kenny Fahndrich, Crater.

WR — Elliott O'Bryan, West Albany; Josh Galbreath, Thurston; Mitch Singler, South Medford; Zach DuFault, South Salem; Garrett Davis, Eagle Point.

NORTH TEAM

QB — Jack Lomax, Lake Oswego; Michael Dehaan, Beaverton; Josh Hill, Westview.

RB/DB — Anthony Blake, Jesuit; Malcolm Johnson, Barlow; Jackie Coburn, Beaverton; Robert Casteel, Westview; Marlon Miles, Jefferson; Terrell Malley, Roosevelt; Maclan Epley, Franklin.

OL/DL — Scotty O'Connor, Century; Zak Cooper, Wilsonville; Brenton Spickerman, Jesuit; Mitch Gaulke, West Linn; Dan Study, Madison; Blake VerHaalen, Oregon City; Taylor Schnell, Sandy; Paul Tuma, Southridge; Zach Ka'ahanui, Central Catholic; Mathew Dummer, Jesuit; Michael Mehlhaff, Gresham; Jordan Duilio, Madison; Alex Jones, Grant.

LB — Kyle Hogan, Glencoe; Kevin Hausner, Sherwood; Wes Wenzel, Sunset; Kellen Mastrud, Southridge; Jon Byers, David Douglas; Andy McIntyre, Cleveland; Karl Acker, Grant; Nathan Osborne, Wilson.

WR — Josh Garlington, Century; Matt Nylen, Clackamas; Micah Hatfield, Lake Oswego; Josh Oltman, West Linn; Jacob Bohince, Hood River; Ryan Lacey, Lincoln; Dimitrios Finney, David Douglas.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com