Osborne duo goes out on high note in all-star game
By AUSTIN COLBERT
BELOIT -- When Osborne High School's Kenton Ubelaker and Maverick LeRock report to camp on Aug. 10 to begin their careers as Fort Hays State University football players, it will signal a dramatic change in their relationship.
The duo have been an unstoppable 1-2 punch for Osborne at running back and fullback the last three years, with them winning the Eight-Man Division I state championship as seniors, capping a 13-0 season.
But at FHSU, the plan is for LeRock to play linebacker and for Ubelaker to become a slot receiver. This meant that Saturday's 29th annual Eight-Man All-Star football game was likely the last time the duo would line up in the backfield.
"We've been playing together for three years so you know exactly where he is going to be every moment," Ubelaker said. "It's just nice to have him so you aren't playing with someone new."
The duo went out on a high note, helping guide the Division I East squad to a 20-16 win over the West squad at Beloit's Trojan Field.
LeRock finished with 58 yards on 11 carries and a successful two-point conversion run, while Ubelaker finished with 54 yards and 13 carries despite an early knee injury keeping him from full strength most of the game.
"We went around the left end over there and I got hung up in a pile. Just got cut down from the side," Ubelaker said.
Even so, Ubelaker remained in the game and helped the East fend off a pesky West squad, led by Hoxie High School quarterback Chase Kennedy. Kennedy led all players in rushing with 87 yards on 20 carries while going 3 for 8 through the air for 31 yards.
Kennedy's West squad led 8-0 after it scored the only points of the first quarter, a 4-yard run by Kiowa County's Trever Powell. The East responded in the second quarter with an 11-yard touchdown pass from South Haven's Anthony Hawkins to Marais des Cygnes Valley's Matt Jones, LeRock's run on the conversion tying the game.
A 1-yard Hawkins' touchdown run and failed conversion made it 14-8 East at halftime.
"We knew it was going to be really tough because they were really big. We were just going to be really scrappy and play right back with them," Kennedy said.
"We never gave up, so I'm proud of everyone. We made it a game. We didn't just hang our heads when they got up by two scores. We came back and fought our way until the end."
Hawkins got his third touchdown on a 3-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to give East a 20-8 advantage. The West made it interesting when Kennedy ran in a score from 7 yards out with 2:03 to play, a successful conversion run coming by Atwood-Rawlins County's Dylan Tiemeyer.
The East recovered the onside kick before being forced into a three and out, but the West was only left with 21 seconds and the ball at its own 12-yard line. The game ended with Kennedy being tackled around midfield on a scramble.
"We wanted to have a lot of fun and we knew we were going to," LeRock said of Saturday's all-star game. "We knew those guys had a bunch of good athletes and so did we. We knew it was going to be a good game from the start ... glad I got to be a part of it."
East 52, West 41
There weren't many players feeling quite at home in Beloit as Victoria High School's Nathan Kuhn. After all, it won't be long until he moves there permanently to begin his studies at the North Central Kansas Technical College in the fall.
"I knew I wanted to go into welding when I was a sixth grader. I figured out I wanted to come to Beloit about Christmas, before I found out about the all-star game," Kuhn said. "It's going to be my hometown next year ... got to test out the dorms before I came up here."
Kuhn and the rest of the eight-man all stars spent the week living in the NCKTC dorms. They practiced twice a day and according to Kuhn spent much of the rest of the time talking and playing foosball.
"We call them fuzzy ball tournaments now," Kuhn joked. "We've just been sitting in the dorms talking and becoming a better team, becoming friends. I think the D-2 West was probably the closest team out of all four of the teams."
As close as Kuhn's Division II West squad might have been, it still fell short of the East in a 52-41 barnburner, the second game of Saturday's festivities at Trojan Stadium.
The game featured many wild plays, including four touchdown plays of 45 yards or more. East quarterback Dustin Rottinghaus of Baileyville-B&B went 24 of 36 for 297 yards, while Wallace County's Kyle Gfeller led the West squad with 421 yards passing, going 25 for 45.
"Typical eight-man football. Just back and forth, back and forth," said Kuhn, a lineman. "I wish we could have just ran the ball more because that's what I'm used to from Victoria. Just running down people's throats. But I was happy to pass and be able to block for those guys."
East led 30-29 heading into the fourth quarter when they were finally able to pull away late for the win.