The game lived up to the hype, and then some. You can ask us for a game MVP, but we are not sure we could give you one.
The game plan that we thought could give the West a chance worked wonders. Gunner Yates was allowed no significant lanes to run through, and as a result, the East passing game had no legs to stand on for nearly the entire game. Outside of a freak, once-in-a-decade play including multiple tips and a near interception by the West that ended with a East touchdown, the Red squad was thoroughly stonewalled on all fronts.
The offense of the West showed the efficiency we alluded to in our preview, as McNabb was able to pick apart an East defense through the air on short patterns out of some unconventional formations, namely the high usage rate of 4×1 ‘Quads’ sets early in the game. The run game was not dominant until late, but it did enough. In fact, McNabb scrambling was the Green squad’s most effective and consistent run threat throughout.
The West, having on the roster two Rainier Columbians, even threw the Diesel into the playbook. They did not run it for entire possessions; rather, they used it in specific situations, usually with a short field. The peculiar formation Rainier is famous for brought with it just enough of a change of pace to keep the East off balance. Going from five-wide Quads to the most blue collar of offenses in the Rainier Diesel within the same possession would be the nightmare of even the most seasoned
Defensive Coordinators. The West, with a week of practice, pulled it off.
Turnovers and penalties abounded, but neither squad could take advantage. Time of possession, on the other hand, was in the hands of the West. The green squad was able to move the sticks with much greater regularity, even if it did not end with points. The “don’t beat yourself, control the ball, and play great defense” model we laid out in our preview for a West victory came to pass.
The business of picking an MVP is impossible here. Surely, Luke McNabb gets the first look, as simply being responsible for as many yards as he produced both with his arm and his legs are worthy of note. Isacc Schnepp, the lengthy defensive lineman from Cascade, deserves consideration because of how disruptive he was from start to finish and with how much force he talked with—hitting so hard as to cause multiple fumbles. Jacob Preston deserves to be mentioned for what ended up being the final touchdown scored and his consistency down the stretch. Can the entire defense not be awarded the MVP award for containing–in stretches, dominating–the East offense? The West were underdogs here, make no mistake. The coaching jobs of Jeff Flood, Sean McNabb, Jacob Peterson, and Jeff Taylor cannot be touted enough either.
It was a true team effort in a game where ditching school allegiance and personal desires in the name of competition is championed. It is fitting, in this same line of thought, that the game would be decided on the foot of a kicker rather than the arm of a quarterback, the legs of a running back, or hands of a receiver. It was one of the best team performances the Shrine Game has seen in a long, long time.