Birds’ Day, Jersey’s Roberts are Shrine Game MVPs

BLOOMINGTON – For Gavin Day and Edwards Roberts, being selected to play in the 48th annual Illinois Shrine Football Game was honor enough. But each made the game even more memorable by earning the Defensive Most Valuable Player Award for their respective team.

Playing safety for the Blue All-Stars, Roberts intercepted a pass, while Red All-Star Day also had a pick, as well as four punt returns, in helping his team to an 11-7 victory Saturday at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Tucci Stadium.

“It was the most fun I ever had at football,” Day said. “It was really a fun experience. It was more of a have-fun atmosphere without pressure to win, just play.”

Day, a two-way player at Southwestern at running back and safety, was used at cornerback in the Shrine Game.

“I had never played corner back before,” Day said with a laugh. “But it worked out.”

Despite battling injury, Roberts was also a two-way player, seeing action at defensive back and running back.

“Eddie is easily one of the premier athletes from our area,” said former Jersey coach Ric Johns. “He’s excellent at a lot of sports.”

Roberts, who is also a standout water skier, tennis player and basketball player, will ski for the University of Alabama.

Corbin Hickey of Johnston City was named the Blue MVP. He had five receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown. Hoffman, who passed for 104 yards and a touchdown, was named the Red Offensive MVP award.

Day is headed to the University of St. Francis this fall, where he will play running back.

The Shrine Game is sponsored by the Illinois Coaches Association and the Mohammed Shriners Club and included a week-long series of events leading up to the game.

“It was really hot during the week,” Day said, “but on game day it wasn’t so bad, around 78 degrees or so.”

Other area players on the Red All-Stars included Justin Laws of Roxana at offensive lineman, Kyle Leonard of Carrollton at wide receiver, Colten Roswell of Marquette Catholic at defensive lineman and Magnus Wells of Hillsboro at defensive lineman.

The Blue All-Stars included Alton’s Ihzel Brown at offensive lineman, Jersey’s Edward Roberts at safety, Breese Mater Dei’s Reed Timmermann at outside linebacker and Belleville East’s Chris Mueller at offensive lineman.

“It was pretty cool to play on the same team with guys I have always just played against,” Day said.

Defense was the name of the game. Normally high-scoring affairs, this year’s game was dominated by the defenses.

Saturday, the Red All-Stars had 239 yards of total offense for the game. The Blue had 232 yards in the air, but was held to minus 7 yards rushing.

The Blue All-Stars grabbed a 7-0 lead late in the second quarter when quarterback Joey Sprinkle from Monticello threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Johnston City’s Corbin Hickey with 26 seconds remaining.

But the Red All-Stars drove the ball for a go-ahead touchdown before halftime. Hoffman threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Dream Eagle of Mahomet-Seymour on the final lay of the half. Clem McCullough elgin ran for a two points on a fake conversion kick to put his team ahead 8-7 at halftime,

In the second half, Streamwood’s Michael Estrada kicked 22-yard field goal for the Red team with 9:08 left to make it 11-7.

The Shrine Game traces its roots back to 1975, when the Bloomington Shrine Club and the Illinois Coaches Association sponsored the first Illinois High School Football All-Star game at Illinois State University’s Hancock Stadium. After 22 years in Normal, the game was moved to Peoria Stadium.

In 2012, the game moved back to Bloomington and has been played at Tucci Stadium on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University since.

Among the sponsored events for the All-Star players last week was a softball game with children from a Shriners Hospital, as well other chances to learn about Shriners Hospitals and what they do to help children.

It all had an effect on Day.

“It made me feel good being able to see the kids play and laugh at the softball game,” Day said. “They were getting a chance to do something we take for granted.”

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