KEARNEY — After a lost final quarter to their senior years and the wiping out of the Northeast Nebraska All-Star football game, Cedar Catholic’s Rex Becker and Jacob Kaiser were resigned to seeing their prep days quietly disappear into sad memories.
The two future Wayne State football teammates got the best reprieve possible last week, though, when they were tabbed as members of the 2020 Nebraska Shrine Bowl’s North Team for the game set for 2 p.m. on July 11 at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
“It is extremely exciting that both Rex and Jacob were selected to play in the Shrine Bowl,” Cedar head football coach Chad Cattau said. “They are both very worthy candidates. I really feel both of these two will represent our town and school in the highest manner possible.”
Cattau said both former Trojans are exceptional people, besides being great athletes.
“Not only are they both excellent football players, but they are better young men. I am not sure if they will allow them to go to the Shriners hospital like normal years but hopefully, they get to experience something similar. That is always a great experience for all the players in this game, but I would have to believe there will be some different experiences for the players because of the virus.”
Cattau is sure both young men will make the most of the week playing football and making new friends.
“They will create memories that they will be able to keep with them for the rest of their lives,” Cattau said.
Kaiser sees the game as a reprieve after such a slow start to his senior year as he had to sit out a chunk of it due to injury. This would be a way to at least soften the blow of nightmare book ends to the final year of being a kid.
He is confident also that the game should be able to go on despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They just sent me a packet, so I am pretty sure it’s just going to be up to the current guidelines,” Kaiser said. “We can each only invite 10 people per player. I think things will be a little toned down, but I think it will be played for sure. I am sure it’s going to be a warm one.
“It’s pretty sweet: It’s all the best players in Nebraska and I get to play in it. Personally, I missed out on more than half my senior year of football so for me if I can get another game, heck yeah. That’s just a bonus for me and everybody I guess.”
Kaiser has been able to head to Wayne State four days a week to lift weights and work toward getting ready for the season and in turn helped him get in better game shape for the Shrine contest.
“I’m sure of the other people there playing are also getting into shape if they are not already,” Kaiser said. “I think I’ll be in halfway decent shape at least.”
Becker wants to make his mark in the game,
“It’s pretty cool since there are not many people who have played in it,” Becker said. “Hopefully we still have one more game to play in high school. I figured we were done, but then I got the call. I am glad they are having it.
“We are going to have five days of practice so it’s not going to be just ‘here’s a game go play it.’ It’s preparation and getting your mind set on a competitive situation. It’s been a long time since we’ve had any type of competition. I want to perform well and go out there and get a couple of tackles and maybe tackles for loss with a sack.”
Becker said the focus is more about having fun and getting back into the groove of the sport with Wayne State workouts approaching.
“Last year by this time I was already at about six football camps,” Becker said.