Jacob Green might personify the mission of the Kansas Shrine Bowl more than any player on the sidelines of Saturday’s game at Butler Community College in El Dorado.
The recent Norton Community High School graduate has performed on the field and for his community over the past four years.
As a senior, Green went to Bluejay head coach Lucas Melvin before the Phillipsburg game with an idea to involve some others that usually don’t have the chance in the game, as schools across the area celebrated Down Syndrome awareness month in October.
Green pitched Melvin on having some area special education students take the field with the Bluejay captains for the coin toss.
“I talked to coach about that. I kinda told him that it was a good idea,” Green said.
“That moment in my football career meant a lot to me.”
While the Bluejays dropped that game to the Panthers, Green showed the other half of the reason he was selected in Saturday’s game. Of the 25 tackles he was credited with, 15 were solo efforts. He also recovered a fumble across the Mid-Continent League rivals.
On the year, Green racked up 178 tackles, 11 for loss in 11 games. He added two forced fumbles, a pair of recoveries, a sack and an interception. He was selected as the area’s Defensive Player of the Year for the third consecutive season.
This week, he’s on a defense with some of the top athletes in the state.
“It’s been pretty eye-opening. We’ve just got a bunch of athletes here that I’ve never had the opportunity to talk to and play with,” Green said. “We’ve got a great group of coaches. It’s pretty good so far.”
His efforts at Tuesday’s practice at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina earned the praise of the West squad’s defensive coaches, as he frequently was one of the first defenders to the ball.
While the West squad used a four-man defensive front as opposed the Norton’s 5-2, Green is in the center of the action as a middle linebacker.
“It’s pretty (much) the same concept,” Green said.
Saturday is expected to be the final time Green — a three-sport standout in football, wrestling and track — straps into a helmet.
“(It’s) relieving, kinda sad… all of the above,” Green said. “I’m not looking forward until after the game. I’m just looking forward to the game and playing my best.”
He, like many of the other members of the West squad, looks forward to visiting with the beneficiaries of the game — patients of the Shriner Hospital.
While he’s got a heart off the field, he can still be a pretty mean dude between the lines. He doesn’t plan to take the outcome of his final game lightly.
“Oh yeah, of course (the outcome) matters,” Green said. “We’re trying to win, trying to knock some heads off.”