La Crosse's Stull among Shrine All-Stars
Published on -7/27/2012, 11:03 AM
By CONOR NICHOLL
Tayler Stull first thought about playing in the Shrine Bowl the summer before his freshman year at La Crosse High School. At that point, Stull didn't know what the Shrine Bowl was, but went down to Emporia State University and watched Leopard lineman Mike Powell compete in the game. Stull liked how the game was played in pouring rain and went into overtime.
"I got down here and I wanted to play in it," he said.
Four years later, Stull completed one of the greatest careers in Leopard football history. A four-year starter on defense and a three-year starter at quarterback, Stull helped La Crosse win 40 games in four seasons. That included a school-record 12-1 mark and Class 2-1A state runner-up appearance last year.
On Saturday, Stull will play in the Shrine Bowl. Just like the 2008 game, the 39th annual contest benefiting Shriners' Hospital is held at Emporia State. Game time is 7 p.m. This week in practice, Stull, a Bethany College signee, has impressed at defensive back.
"This is a great honor for me to play in this game," Stull said. "It's not about winning this game. That would be nice, but it's not about me, it's about the Shriners."
La Crosse coach Jon Webster is an assistant for the West squad, a unit that carries a six-game winning streak, longest in Shrine history, into the contest.
"We are reminded of (the streak) every time we meet with the Shriners, every time they feed us," Webster said. "As a staff, we are not making a big deal of it. It's one game and we are going to go out there and try to play our best."
Webster, entering his fourth year as the Leopards' head coach, called coaching in the Shrine Bowl "a 1B to the state game" on his coaching achievements. He has coached linebackers this week. One of the six linebackers is Plainville's Andrew Casey. He is set to start at middle linebacker Saturday.
"His instincts are what really gets him by," Webster said of Casey. "If you put a clock on him, he is probably not going to turn heads running, but if you put shoulder pads on him, he plays fast. He has got a nose for the football and he sniffs things out. Once he sees it a couple times, he has got a pretty good read for it and a good understanding of what we are doing."
Derby's Dillon Call and Junction City's Dominik White will start on the outside.
"It's like I have been coaching them for years," Webster said. "They are just good kids."
Webster took over the La Crosse program from Ryan Cornelsen, now in his fourth season at Hays High School. The two are reunited this week as Cornelsen is also an assistant.
"Just with everything that it goes for and what the purpose of the game is and what it means to so many people, the patients, and their families and all the goodwill it does, it's just a great honor to be a part of it," Webster said.
"To get here this quick in my coaching career, it's really amazing. It's just a great honor."
In his career, Stull rushed for 3,182 yards and 52 scores and passed for 2,660 yards and 41 touchdowns. He picked off four passes last season and helped the Leopards set a state record for interceptions. This week, Stull has picked off several passes and had several big hits in practice and impressed players from bigger schools, namely White, a vocal leader.
"White said, 'When he showed up, I didn't know what to think,'" Webster said. " 'That kid is a beast.' It's good to see other kids realize that (Tayler) is a good football player, not just for our size schools, but all the way around he is a good football player. He is not drawing any attention for himself. He is just playing football. It's good to see our kids doing the right things and get rewarded for it."