Hays High product and K-State signee Gaven Haselhorst dominates in Kansas Shrine Bowl

Taylor Eldridge
The Wichita Eagle (TNS)
West's Gaven Haselhorst from Hays runs out onto the field before the start of the 2021 Kansas Shrine Bowl game at Gowans Stadium in Hutchinson Saturday.
East's quarterback Isaac Stanton (18) from Basehor-Linwood is tackled by West's Gaven Haselhorst (22) from Hays during the 2021 Kansas Shrine Bowl game at Gowans Stadium in Hutchinson Saturday night. The West squad defeated the East squad 14-0.

HUTCHINSON — It didn't take long this week in Kansas Shrine Bowl practices for Hays graduate Gaven Haselhorst to prove he is a different kind of athlete.

After the West team's third practice, when the other high school football all-stars were tired from their work in the heat, Haselhorst showed off his top-notch athleticism by completing a back flip on his feet.

It was an impressive feat for any athlete after a two-hour practice. Even more so for a 6-foot-1, 230-pound defensive lineman.

"That's when I knew, 'OK, that dude is just a freak athlete,'" said Collegiate coach Troy Black, who served as the West team's defensive coordinator. "He's a different cat. He's got a motor and he's super explosive."

That combination was on full display from the K-State football signee on Saturday night during the Shrine Bowl game, as Haselhorst recorded three sacks and played a critical role in the West team's 14-0 shutout victory over the East team at Gowans Stadium in Hutchinson.

It was just the sixth shutout in the Kansas high school football all-star game's 48-game history and just the second since 1990.

"We worked our butts off all week, so it's awesome to get the shut out," Haselhorst said. "It's really special to be part of the Shrine Bowl and represent my city and play for the kids. We practiced hard this past week and it showed on the field tonight."

Saturday's edition of the game was all about defense, as the two offenses combined for fewer than 400 total yards and averaged just 3.1 yards per play. No one personified the fabric of the game better than Haselhorst, who dominated the line of scrimmage when he was in the game.

His first sack of the game promptly ended a promising first quarter drive by the East team, while his second sack he ran through the quarterback with such force that it nearly forced a fumble. Haselhorst finished with five tackles, which was the second-most on the West defense.

"We knew they would have a hard time blocking him because we couldn't block him all week," Black said. "It's just his motor. There are times where he went through the wrong gap and he still ended up making the play. We felt like we could get some pressure without blitzing all the time with him in the game and that was huge for our defense."

The only explosive play of the game came three minutes into the first quarter when West quarterback Andrew Khoury (Junction City) found receiver Ty Sides (Phillipsburg) open down the sideline on third down and Sides weaved his way through the East defense for a 59-yard touchdown reception. Sides earned West MVP honors after hauling in five catches for a game-high 126 yards.

West sealed the game late in the fourth quarter when quarterback Tanner Cash, a Clearwater grad who is signed to play football at Hutchinson Community College, gave a sneak peak to the Blue Dragons on what might be to come with a six-yard touchdown run on a fourth down with 4:36 remaining in the game.

But the story of the game was the West defense spearheaded by Haselhorst, who is actually transitioning to play linebacker for Kansas State at the Division I level.

Haselhorst said he has been working out with the Wildcats in Manhattan since June 1 and that he is enjoying the step up in challenge. But for one more football game, it was nice to return to what he loves to do the most from his defensive end position.

"Hitting people," Haselhorst said with a smile.