Football game gets new name
— The annual Shrine all-star football game featuring the state's top Class 4A players, is no more.
It's now the Les Schwab Oregon Bowl run by Promax event management after nearly five decades of association with the Shriners.
We wanted to keep the Shrine name on it, but the national Shrine office in Tampa, Fla. said if the Oregon temples weren't in complete control, they couldn't be part of the game, says Promax operations director Todd Greenough. We all grew up with the Shrine game, that's why we've gone with the slogan `Same game, just a new name.' It's like people who know it as Candlestick Park to call it 3Com Park.
The contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 27 at Civic Stadium in Portland. Until five years ago the game was always played in Portland. But sagging attendance caused the Shriners to try something else and they took the game to Corvallis and Eugene. Not even changing the name to the Shrine Bowl halted the decline.
Such woes caused the Oregon Coaches Association to take note and the Shriners weren't making much money for their children's hospital. (The Shrine game for 3A, 2A and 1A players in Baker City continues to thrive financially.) The OCA met with Promax and in January the 50-year-old game was reborn.
We've got 23,000 seats staring us in the face right now, Greenough says. We want to return it to the level (of interest and attendance) it used to have.
Promax eventually hopes to turn the game into an Oregon-Washington game similar to the Northwest Shootout for basketball players. The game's proceeds will go to the Multnomah Athletic Foundation and a charity that defrays the cost for needy students at school districts where athletes pay to play.
The Southern Oregon Conference will be represented by wide receiver Cy Aleman, linebacker Erik Nagel and lineman Rudy Dietz of Ashland; quarterback Dan Shopp and defensive back Luke Scott of Eagle Point; linebacker Seth McEwen of North Medford; slotback Mike Cory of Roseburg; and linebacker Brian Howard of Grants Pass. Ashland coach Jim Nagel will be an assistant to Tom Smythe of McNary, whose team defeated Beaverton, 51-48, for last year's state championship.
Smythe, however, is coaching over in Europe and may not be back in time. If so, Nagel will handle the offense.
In the past, players practiced eight or nine days prior to the contest. Players will arrive Sunday this year and play Saturday.
With all things being equal, says Jim Nagel, it limits what you can do and how much can put in. I've taken groups to Australia and England with the short preparation. It forces you to be very organized and detailed.
Beaverton quarterback Taylor Barton, who signed with Colorado after coming within one touchdown pass of the national record, will probably make no more than a cameo appearance.
(Colorado coach Rick) Neuheisel said that it was great that he can play in the thing. But to play the first series or two and get out of it, Greenough says. We can appreciate that with the kind of money colleges are putting into kids.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Southern Oregon Conference softball champion has a highly-favorable draw in the Class 4A state playoffs this spring.
The SOC champion is on the opposite of the bracket from the Metro League, Mount Hood Conference and Midwestern League champions.
SOC favorite North Medford played Beaverton (Metro) in last year's final and Hood River (Mount Hood) in the semifinals. Hood River's dominating pitcher Crystal Draper returns for her senior season.
TIMES HAVE CHANGED: When I got here, there were six teams in the (SOC) and it was always a struggle. In football, Ashland and Crater were always battling to stay out of the last spot. We've seen a lot of changes and a lot of gains in a lot of areas, former
Crater wrestling coach and current athletic director Dan Speasl, reflected on his 24 years at the school after last Friday's pep assembly where the state champion wrestling team and second-place girls basketball teams were honored.
QUICK CONVERSION: New Crater football coach Randy Heath wore the Comets' black and white while watching the girls basketball tournament in Portland.
Heath has also put in quite a bit of time going up and down Interstate 5 since being named coach the second week of February. He has taken Fridays off from his teaching job at Tualatin so he can meet with players and coaches.
Heath's toughest task, according to Speasl, has been finding a house _ he has four children.