Shrine Bowl: RTH trio to play final game togetherThree Richardton-Taylor-Hebron football players have one final chance to play as teammates.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
Three Richardton-Taylor-Hebron football players have one final chance to play as teammates.
The trio of Adam Woroniecki, Robbie Slaughter and Jarret Naumann played together throughout much of high school and have one last hurrah today during the Shrine Bowl all-star football games at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.
“It’s a big honor to be picked for this game, because it will be last time that I play 9-man football,” Woroniecki said. “I just appreciate all the Shiners.”
Slaughter and Woroniecki have been in this similar situation before. They played together in the Badlands Bowl in Miles City, Mont. The Badlands Bowl was a little different, however, as the teams played 11-man football instead of 9-man.
“The level is kind of the same, if anything the Badlands Bowl (between North Dakota and Montana) was a little more of a game changer, because it was 11-man,” Slaughter said.
Woroniecki agreed with Slaughter on his observation.
“The Badlands Bowl was really my first ever taste of playing 11-man,” Woroniecki said. “In that game, I didn’t play running back, I was a wide receiver. That is something that I could possibly be playing at college.”
Woroniecki, who played running back in high school, rushed for 1,932 yards and 32 touchdowns in nine games last season. He is poised to play running back in the Shrine Bowl.
His offensive line features one of his favorite lead blockers — Slaughter. The offensive lineman says it just like being back in high school.
“It feels like old times,” Slaughter said. “It’s just me blocking and him (Woroniecki) running around me.”
The good times for the two teammates won’t last much longer though. Woroniecki plans to play at the University of Mary, while Slaughter is playing at Dickinson State.
“It feels good, I’ve played with him for three years,” Slaughter said. “It’s been a lot of fun. It’s too bad we couldn’t decide on the same school together. The fun could have continued.”
Feelings are mutual for Woroniecki.
“It’s kind of a sad feeling to know that’s all over,” he said. “But you got to move on to what you’re going to do.”
While his teammates will stay on the gridiron, Naumann won’t be playing college football next season. He said it’s a little easier ending his career around friends.
“Having people that you know at the Shrine Bowl makes it really easy,” he said. “But you meet guys here too that are really cool.”
Naumann spent last season as the Raiders’ quarterback and safety. His position has changed a little bit in the Shrine Bowl. He has been lining up as a wide receiver.
“The position wasn’t really a shocking change,” Naumann said. “Knowing the routes, being a quarterback and doing defensive backs drills, my hands are prepared for being a wide receiver.”
The West took a heavy loss to the East last season, 34-7. Naumann hopes the West can turn it around this year.
“Our coaches weren’t even sure the last time the West won,” he said. “We’ve been practicing real hard in full pads.”
O’Brother, where art thou?
The circumstances in the sport are the same, but Mott-Regent standout Ethan Keller will be without his twin brother, Aaron for the first time on the football field when he suits up for the 9-man West all-stars.
“It’s a little different, but at the same time you are playing with a bunch of athletes that are pretty good,” Keller said. “I can’t complain at all. I’m playing with some pretty good guys.”
This game could mark the only time that the Keller brothers won’t be playing in the same game. Both are expected to play at Crown College this upcoming season in Saint Bonifacius, Minn.
“It could probably be one of the only games we don’t play together,” Keller said.
The future Crown College athlete might not have his brother on the field. But he will have a familiar teammate in lineman Jesse Erickson.
“As cool as it is being with everybody else, its way better having someone here that you know,” Keller said. “You kind of know how they play and it’s easier to mesh with someone you know.”
Keller ran for 1,129 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2010. He accumulated multiple school records in his career, including 3,469 rushing yards, 46 rushing touchdown (50 total touchdowns) and 437 carries. He also has nabbed the most total points scored with 348.
“Being at the Shrine Bowl, you get to see what kind of athletes are out there,” he said. “It’s way different than playing on a regular 9-man team. There isn’t a player out here that is bad.”
While he was an offensive juggernaut at Mott-Regent, Keller’s snaps during Shrine Bowl practice have been on the defensive side of the ball.
“I know right I’m playing a lot of defense, but I think I might get a few chances to run,” he said. “I’m just hoping I run my best when I get those chances.”
It’s going to come down to a West vs. East showdown, where each team has talent on both sides of the ball.
“We have a little pride here on the West,” Keller said. “We all kind of want to prove a little bit here. It will be fun playing against guys, who are just like us.”
Hibl’s final field
Dustin Hibl, a lineman from Dickinson Trinity, will take the football field for the final time today when he lines up for the 11-man West team.
“It’s kind of emotional,” he said. “It will be a lot of fun, putting everything into it and leave no regrets on the field.”
It will be a change of pace as Hibl is playing with some of the best players in the state.
“It’s a lot of fun, going from playing with a team that maybe has some inexperienced players to guys that are the best in the state,” he said. “It gets to be a lot of fun.”
With everyone on the roster on the same page, Hibl thinks it will make it easier for everyone to their job.
“It’s very easier to get along and everything works out,” he said. “Everyone knows what they are doing.”
Hibl will be playing with several players he competed against from around the area. Working alongside of them might have seemed awkward at first, he said, but some camaraderie has formed.
“I guess right away, when we first got to the dorms, it was kind of weird,” Hibl said. “Everyone here gets along real well.”