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April 19, 2014

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high school football:

Moving all-star game to December allows high school seniors better exposure

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Justin M. Bowen

The Sunrise Region all-stars celebrate a 20-9 victory against the Sunset Saturday, June 5, 2010, during the 39th West Charleston Lions Club High School All-Star Game at Gorman.

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer close out another great football season and turn to basketball. Can anyone beat Bishop Gorman? Arbor View or Centennial? Austin Morgan or Austin Starr? They spend time discussing all those topics and more.

A high school football tradition in Las Vegas is changing this year for the better, according to organizers.

The West Charleston Lions Club Charity All-Star Football Game is 5 p.m. Saturday at Bishop Gorman’s Fertitta Field, moving to a December date after more than 40 years of playing in early June.

This switch makes the game — which features senior all-league selections from the past season — more significant because it’s played during an open-contact period for college coaches. Officials anticipate recruiters from various levels of college football in attendance scouting.

“It’s a chance for those kids on the (recruiting) bubble to get another game,” said Palo Verde’s Darwin Rost, who is coaching the Sunset team. “We’ll see a lot of those Division II or Division III coaches out there we aren’t used to seeing.”

The presence of recruiters is the result of the work of Wade White Jr. and his Elite Sports Group. They are a hosting the Elite Senior Bowl at 1 p.m. Saturday at Faith Lutheran, successfully petitioning Nevada to allow showcase games to be played after the season and during a key recruiting period.

The senior bowl was played the past two seasons without approval, meaning athletes who played were ineligible to play other high school sports. White finally got the approval of the Nevada Legislature, which oversees the association. They unanimously signed off May 18 — a day White sent photos to supporters from Carson City in celebration.

“We did it for the young men, so they have the opportunity to go to school,” White said.

The Lions Club, whose game last June raised $75,000 for charities such as the Blind Center of Nevada and Lions Burn Unit at UMC, made the easy decision to move its game. Gone are the days of playing in temperatures of more than 100 degrees with players mostly out of shape.

“The turnout has been fantastic with the kids,” said John Klumbach, the game’s chairman. “It’s an all-star game during football season. It makes perfect sense.”

The December game does have one minor drawback.

Rost reports some of the Sunset Region’s top players won’t be playing. A few are taking college recruiting trips, one is playing in a national all-star game and others suffered injuries late in the season. But it’s better than past seasons when some seniors were out of shape and others were instructed by their college football teams not to play. Some years, coaches had to scramble to find players interested in playing.

The Elite Senior Bowl will take a different approach next year. White plans to take the top 50 seniors in Las Vegas and play against seniors from San Diego. The state vs. state approach is common in other areas and something he feels will further attract recruiters.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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