Saturday, April 4, 2020
April 4, 2020

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Longview players, ‘dude from Kelso’ join all-star game

Players from up I-5 added to Freedom Bowl Classic

By , Columbian High School Sports Reporter

It took about 40 minutes for them to drive to practice this week, to put on the football pads during the first blast of heat this summer season.

“It’s just sweet to get another game in,” said Colt Carpenter of Mark Morris High School.

“It’s worth it to come here. It’s a pretty good time,” added William Yordy of R.A. Long.

Carpenter and Yordy are two of eight players from Mark Morris, R.A. Long, and Kelso who are scheduled to compete tonight in the Freedom Bowl Classic, an all-star football game at Kiggins Bowl featuring recent high school graduates.

This is the eighth Freedom Bowl, and the first to include the three schools from Kelso/Longview that play in one of the Greater St. Helens leagues.

Freedom Bowl

Southwest Washington high school all-star football game, 7:30 p.m. today at Kiggins Bowl.

Tickets: $8.

On the Web:

Freedom Bowl

Southwest Washington high school all-star football game, 7:30 p.m. today at Kiggins Bowl.

Tickets: $8.

On the Web:

“We’re the Longview guys and some dude from Kelso,” quipped J. Nusbaum of R.A. Long.

Kersey Krieger and Gavin Johnson also hail from R.A. Long. Travis Kinder and Jake Cotterell join Carpenter as Mark Morris representatives. And Lane Sari is the “dude” from Kelso.

The addition of these three schools into the Freedom Bowl mix benefits in a number of ways, according to Fort Vancouver athletic director John Griffin, who is the game operations coordinator for the event.

“It just didn’t seem right to have the GSHL area, but a portion of the GSHL teams weren’t involved in the all-star game,” Griffin said.

Organizers also hope that the addition of the three schools will help the competitive balance of the event. Last year’s game was a blowout, with the East prevailing 32-3. The East has a 5-2 edge in the series.

“We tried in the past to make the teams equal as possible,” Griffin said. “We moved teams accordingly, to try to keep things balanced. But as the east teams got bigger (including the addition of a new school, Union), we had to shore up the West side a little bit. At first, we were thinking of moving teams over. But then I thought, ‘Why not bring in new teams?’ ”

Plus, the Freedom Bowl Classic is a fundraiser for Shrine charities and organizations. Players are expected to raise funds through selling tickets and other marketing tools.

“It opens up a new stream of fundraising,” Griffin said. “It’s a win-win.”

The newbies to the Freedom Bowl enjoy the idea that they are here to “save” the West team. They had a little fun with it at practice this week. But they also know they are part of a team, and all of the players, from the West and the East, understand the reason behind the game.

The players visited children at the Shriners Hospital in Portland. Interestingly, the players from all three high schools from Cowlitz County had already visited the hospital as part of their community outreach during the football season.

“It changes you a little bit,” Nusbaum said of the visit.

By tonight, though, it will be a football game, with pride on the line.

The players from the north appreciate being invited. They like knowing they are the first from their area, and they hope their schools are represented in the future, as well.

“Longview and Kelso were really successful this year,” Nusbaum said. “This caps off our season.”