ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Some of the best football players in the state had one final chance to strap up the pads as high school football players on Saturday night at Spratt Stadium in St. Joseph.
The top seniors from this past season in Missouri 8-man football participated in the Missouri 8-Man Football Senior All-Star Game. The rosters included three area players with South Holt/Nodaway-Holt receiver Eric Ottman and Northeast Nodaway students Dakota Auffert and Colton Wilmes, who played for state runner-up Worth County.
“It was awesome,” Ottman said. “Practices were hard, but it was so much fun with all the guys. The game was a blast. I couldn’t ask for anything better than the game. It was just awesome.”
Auffert and Ottman’s Green team was able to secure bragging rights over Wilmes’ Silver team, 40-26.
“There was a lot of friendly trash talk and knowing that we won is something I can bring up in the future,” Ottman said.
Ottman was a big part of the Green offense with a touchdown reception in the pass-happy offense led by King City quarterback Collin Breckenridge, who was named the game’s Offensive MVP. The offensive philosophy was similar to the offense Ottman played with for the Spartans.
“Going into this, I didn’t know what we were going to do,” Ottman said. “Then when he said we were going to throw the ball all over the place, I was like, that is awesome. That is what I love. It was amazing.”
Ottman’s final drive before a kneel-down by the Green team on the final possession was a touchdown reception to take a 40-20 lead and make the game completely out of reach.
“I had a couple catches early on, but I really wanted a touchdown and getting that one at the end was just awesome,” Ottman said.
While Ottman was on the outside and benefiting from Breckenridge’s arm, the King City quarterback was benefiting from the protection of his offensive line, including Auffert. Auffert, the team’s center, faced a familiar foe across from him with his classmate Wilmes lining up at nose guard.
“It was good,” Wilmes said. “It was just like practice. We always lined up against each other for practice with scout team.”
Auffert and Wilmes were students at Northeast Nodaway, but are both grateful for the co-op with Worth County that allowed them to play for the Tigers. They were members of a state championship team as juniors.
“It has meant a lot to me,” Auffert said. “Without being able to go up there, I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today because I wouldn’t have football. It means a lot.”
The game was complete with emotional moments throughout. Former Stanberry and South Nodaway coach Dan Collins being inducted into the 8-Man Hall of Fame at halftime.
"It is a big honor. ... The guys you coach against, the guys you coach with and kids — that is what it is all about," Collins said.
After a touchdown, Stanberry running back Trey Schieber lifted up his jersey to unveil a shirt on which he had written a tribute to Kameron Wallace, a teammate who was killed in a traffic accident earlier this summer.
To ended the night, Breckenridge went to the sideline and traded his helmet for Dylan Marrs’ hat. Marrs, who was in shorts after the Mound City running back was injured earlier in the week, took the game’s final kneel down.
Now all the players will move forward to the rest of their lives with high-school football officially in the rear-view mirror. For Wilmes, although that means college football at Missouri Valley College — this last chance at high-school football meant a lot.
“It was a blast,” Wilmes said. “I was glad to play with some of my friends I haven’t seen for a while and get to play another game with them.”