For Lincoln High’s Zion Perry, the 60th Shrine Bowl football game at Nebraska-Kearney’s Ron and Carol Cope Stadium on June 2 represents a chance for the Central Missouri recruit to get a head start on getting accustomed to the road venues he’ll play in as a college wide receiver.
For Norris’ Bryce Stai, it will be his final football game in the state of Nebraska before he heads off to Ohio to play for former Husker coach Frank Solich.
For the 22 Shriners Hospitals across the country that provide advanced, specialized care to children under the age of 18 free of charge, the proceeds from the game supply a much-appreciated boost to their mission.
Perry and Stai were among the 70 players announced for this year’s game at a news conference Tuesday at the Shrine Bowl offices in Lincoln.
Central Missouri and UNK are together in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, but the teams play in Warrensburg, Missouri, next season. Perry, a 5-foot-8, 165-pound speedy wide receiver who caught 61 passes for 1,108 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, also had a scholarship offer from the Lopers.
“It will be fun playing there for the first time,” Perry said, referring to UNK’s Foster Field. “I guess I’d better get used to it.”
Perry is one of three first-team Super-State offensive skill players on the North team, joining Nebraska walk-on running back recruit Moses Bryant of Elkhorn South and Omaha North Super-State running back and honorary captain Milton Sargbah, who is headed to Iowa Western Community College.
Perry is looking forward to playing in North head coach Michael Huffman’s wide-open spread attack that he used to guide Bellevue West to the 2016 Class A state title. Huffman’s quarterback on that team, second-team Super-Stater Joe Dolincheck, is one of the QBs on the North roster.
“I’m excited to see what we can do together,” Perry said. “Joe is a good quarterback, and Milton and Moses kill it at running back. Those are some crazy big names together on one team.”
The past couple of years, Huffman has had to come up with strategies to stop Sargbah, so he’s happy to have him on his squad.
“I made him my No. 1 pick,” Huffman said of Sargbah. “I can’t wait to see what he can do in a spread attack.”
Perry, Bryant and Sargbah are among the seven first-team Super-Staters on the North squad. Three are linemen — NU walk-on prospects Colton Feist of Yutan and Bellevue West’s AJ Forbes as well as Omaha Burke’s Andrew Rheiner — to go along with Grand Island kicker Brian Covarrubias.
Perry is one of two players from Lincoln on the North team, the other being Jonah Housh of North Star.
Stai, a 6-4, 250-pound defensive end/tight end, committed to Ohio last fall before Scott Frost took over at NU. Stai had a Husker walk-on offer from Mike Riley.
“Coach Frost contacted me and told me the walk-on offer was still there, but I told him I wanted to be a scholarship athlete and be part of what Coach Solich has built at Ohio,” said Stai, who also could be a long snapper in college.
Stai is one of a number of Class B standouts on the South roster, whose head coach is Aurora’s Kyle Peterson. Colorado State recruit and Super-State linebacker Zach Schlager of McCook is there, as well as a pair of York Super-Staters in defensive tackle Masry Mapieu (the honorary captain headed to Iowa Western) and linebacker/running back Simon Otte.
Stai will also be joined by high school teammate Gus Woeppel. The only Lincoln player on the South team is Noah McCashland of Pius X.
“I’ve known a lot of these guys for a long time, so it’s exciting to finally play on the same team with them,” said Stai, who overcame a bout of mononucleosis during the football season to earn second-team Super-State and first-team Class B all-state honors.
“We have a great quarterback and a great defense, so it will be fun to see how it all comes together.”
Other first-team Super-Staters on the South are Boys Town’s Ti’jaih Davis and Millard West’s AJ Johnson. Kearney Catholic all-state quarterback Matt Masker and Kearney defensive back Isaiah Stalbird are the other Nebraska walk-on prospects.