Kan.-Neb. All-Stars to face off
Published on -6/22/2012, 10:21 AM
By CONOR NICHOLL
Jerry Voorhees has coached running back Joel Struckhoff and Dakota Foreman nearly their entire football careers. The trio led a Phillipsburg squad to a youth state championship, and then Voorhees coached them at Kensington-Thunder Ridge High School for the last four seasons.
Last season, the Longhorns had one of the most dominating eight-man teams in recent Kansas history when they went 13-0 and rolled past Baileyville-B&B for the Eight-Man, Division II state championship.
Struckhoff set eight-man state records for career rushing yards and total TDs, and earned multiple honors, including Hays Daily News Offensive Player of the Year. Foreman collected HDN Defensive Player of the Year honors.
This Saturday, Voorhees will have his final opportunity to coach the duo in the fifth annual Kansas vs. Nebraska eight-man all-star game at Doane College in Crete, Neb. Start time is 7 p.m.
Voorhees and Montezuma-South Gray's Jeff Blattner are the co-head coaches with Scandia-Pike Valley's Don Melby and Ashland's Jesse Stebens as assistants.
"We kind of joked around a little bit that I get to yell at them a little bit one more time," Voorhees said. "It will be a special day for me, get to coach these guys one last time. They have been such great kids for us, good leaders for us. I just hope both of them come out and play well Saturday and have fun no matter what the outcome is -- just have fun and play hard and we'll be satisfied."
Saturday will be the last game of Foreman's career. He has decided to farm near the Kansas/Nebraska border. Struckhoff has recovered from a bad hamstring injury that cost him most of track season.
After Saturday, he will play in Shrine Bowl in late July and then at Dodge City Community College next season. Saturday is Struckhoff's first athletic competition in more than two months. He is expected to be part of a three-man rotation at running back with Madison's Kole Schankie and Osborne's Damon Schurr.
"He is sore from contact this week, but he looks fine," Voorhees said. "He will be good to go."
After Kansas won the first game in the series, Nebraska has won the last three. This year's 24-man roster also features Downs-Lakeside's Miles Thomas and Quinter's Brian Ochs, each Butler County Community College signees, and Hill City's Adam Pfeifer.
A win would give Voorhees/Struckhoff a 14-0 season and provide Foreman with another victory (Foreman was on the losing team in the East vs. West Kansas all-star team two weeks ago). No area eight-man player has won more than 13 games in a season since Sharon Springs' Taylor Elder in 2008.
"We have got 24 great kids here and Nebraska has got 24 phenomenal kids here," Voorhees said. "They are very good. They look really good. They are obviously going to be bigger than us and so hopefully we can use some formations and move them around a little bit and hopefully we can play with them."
Thomas has worked at linebacker to give Kansas some size after Ashland's all-state Giles Fox will miss his second all-star game in three weeks because of a leg injury. Ochs and Foreman are part of the rotation at defensive line; both collected more than 100 tackles and double digit tackles for loss last fall.
"(Fox) is up here, but he hasn't practiced obviously," Voorhees said. "He is not going to play. We have the Miles Thomas kid. We have got the Bubba Smith from Madison. They have stepped in and done a real nice job."
Pfeifer had a terrific sophomore and junior seasons for Hill City, including a 2010 season when the Ringnecks finished as Eight-Man, Division I state runner-up.
Last fall, Pfeifer played sparingly because of a back injury.
"He is a great kid and a hard worker," Voorhees said.
"Very smart, good leader for us on defense and he is a good kid. I played against him for enough years. I know that he was a pretty good football player, so he was definitely on our radar for us to try to get him on this football team."