West holds on to defeat East in 50th Kansas Shrine Bowl; Garden City’s Artega reflects on experience

Hays, Kan. (westernkansasnews.com)–The 50th Annual Kansas Shrine Bowl ended as an instant classic Saturday night at Lewis Field Stadium in Hays. A fourth down stop by the West with a little over one mintue left preserved a 21-20 win over the East to secure the victory. It was the first time that Hays has hosted the Shrine Bowl since 2015.

The West scored with 3:36 left in the opening period, after a one-yard touchdown run by Kenyon McMillan from Salina Central. Kingman’s Nolan Freund booted in the PAT to make it 7-0. 

Early in the second period, the West added to their lead one play after an interception. Circle’s Ty Smith laid out to haul in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Manhattan’s Keenan Schartz, and Freund’s PAT extended the lead to 14-0. The East responded with an 11-play drive, that resulted in an 11-yard touchdown pass from St. Marys product Keller Hurla to Malik O’Atis from Shawnee Mission Northwest, with 1:35 left before halftime to pull to within 14-6. Their two-point conversion failed.

In the third quarter, the West took advantage of an East turnover. Shartz scored from two yards out with 3:04 left in the frame to extend their lead to 21-6 with the Freund extra point. 

The East would score twice in the fourth quarter. Their first score came with 8:51 left on a four-yard pass from Hurla to Girard’s Luke Niggemann. They would convert the two-point conversion on a pass by Axtell’s Isaac Detweiler to Jerrit Norris from Troy to pull to within 21-14. Their next drive would be finished off on a two-yard touchdown rush by Olathe Norhtwest’s Eric Butler with 5:22 left to pull the East to within 21-20. The two-point conversion would fail.

The West would be stuffed at midfield on a fourth down play on the ensuing drive. However, the East would be stopped on their final drive with 1:07 left, and the West would run the clock out to preserve a 21-20 win. 

Garden City’s Jerry Artega had one reception in the game in the first quarter, and return one kick for six yards. Scott City’s Jace Thomas did not play, due to an injury suffered in a practice earlier in the week.

Winning the MVP from the East was Keller Hurla from St. Marys and Manhattan’s Keenan Schartz won the MVP award for the West.

With the win, the West now leads the all-time series 31-17-2, as they have won four of the past five meetings. Last year’s game ended in a tie. 

The 2024 Kansas Shrine Bowl will be held June 29 in Emporia.

Jerry Artega, Garden City