East Takes Down West 14-6 in Defensive Showdown at Shrine Game

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It didn’t end in a game winning field goal in overtime like last year, but the 70th annual East-West Shrine game created its own version of high stakes drama and entertainment.

Both squads openly declared their intent on making the game a contest of physicality and endurance, and both sides lived up to their promise. Both offenses tried to win the game on the ground—especially in the first half—and both defenses were more than happy to shut the door in their face repeatedly.

After a scoreless first half, both run oriented offenses adjusted direction and found some success in the second half, but the ways in which they did it could not have been more the opposite: The East put Shaw Stork at quarterback—arguably the best weapon either team had in the game—and let him adlib in the same fashion he did so well at Henley. Catch the snap, take your eyes downfield, if a hole opens up for you to run through, just go. Given how the West was organizing its pass rush, Stork was able to move the East down the field almost solely on his own two feet. ‘Throw the ball all over the yard, let Stork run the show’ bore fruit.

The West went the other direction. Rather than spread the field out with multiple receivers and try to take advantage of a lighter box, Coach Andy Mott put the Diesel package on the field. Waylon Riedel and Nate Arce proved to be a formidable Thunder and Lightning combination, and the West was able to score using the Rainier and Estacada namesake offense.

The problem for the West was there simply wasn’t enough time remaining in the game to fully exploit the unique offensive set. The nature of running a system like the Diesel is that, as the West found themselves, if you’re down in a late game situation and need to score quickly or even somewhat quickly, taking 3-4 yards a play isn’t sufficient. The West, as a matter of necessity, had to go back to the Pistol look they’d been using for much of the first half in order to try and score quickly at the end of the game.

The East defense can not be lauded enough for their performance and the difficulty they gave the West offensively. To keep a three headed monster of running backs—Waylon Riedel, Nate Arce, and Kholer Hernandez—from taking over the game behind the offensive line the West boasted is a monumental accomplishment. Getting a scoop-and-score on the final play of the game, as the West attempted one last Hail Mary as time expired, was a fitting end to one of the better defensive performances the Shrine Game has seen in quite some time.

Should we have decided the MVP for the game, the selection would have been without a doubt Shaw Stork. Waylon Riedel, Trevor Anderson, and Gunner Rothenberger have significant cases to make for themselves, but it’s impossible to ignore the importance of what he did in the second half offensively. If that was his last time on a football field, what a great way to go out.

Gunner Rothenberger’s two picks and litany of tackles for the West would put him in the defensive player of the game conversation, as would Owen Crane’s scoop and score as time expired give him a case for the same award.

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