It seems Joe Dworak’s high school football career isn’t over after all.
The Lincoln Pius X senior standout receiver/defensive back went down with a season-ending ACL injury in the Thunderbolts’ preseason scrimmage prior to their first game in August. Even though he missed the entire 2018 campaign, Dworak was part of the South roster released at a news conference Tuesday in Lincoln unveiling the teams for the 61st annual Shrine Bowl to be played June 1 at Nebraska-Kearney’s Cope Stadium.
A few weeks ago, “I couldn’t believe it when I got the call (with the offer to play), and neither could my family,” said Dworak, who has committed to play football this fall at Benedictine. “When they asked, there was no hesitation that I wanted to play it.”
As a junior, the 5-foot-9, 165-pound Dworak earned first-team all-city honors by catching 41 passes for 792 yards and 11 touchdowns and recording 41 tackles and intercepting a pass on defense.
Pius X football coach Ryan Kearney probed Dworak’s interest in playing the Shrine Bowl two months ago as he put together the Thunderbolts’ nominations. All-city senior quarterback Austin Jablonski, a Nebraska walk-on prospect, was also selected to the South team.
“I knew by the time this game would be played, I’d be almost fully recovered, so I told him absolutely,” Dworak said. “I really wanted the chance to play one more game with Austin (Jablonski). Hopefully we can get out there at the same time and do some of the things we were looking forward to doing our senior year.”
South head coach Glen Snodgrass of York said the decision to take Dworak was twofold — a strong recommendation from Kearney and the fact Dworak’s talent and skill jumped out immediately on the film he watched.
“We needed speed at the receiver spot and his coaches there said he was a great kid and one of the best athletes they’d had at Pius in a long time. That’s high praise considering the caliber of kids they’ve had go through there,” Snodgrass said. “This (the Shrine Bowl) is something that celebrates your career, not just your senior year. We looked at his film as a junior, thought he was one of the best wide receivers in the state, so we took him.”
Dworak was also a star guard on the basketball team last season, and he says not being part of the Thunderbolts’ No. 1 team in Class B this winter has been as difficult as missing football season.
“Basketball might be even harder because there are more games and everyone keeps asking me if I’m going to be back before the end of the year,” Dworak said. “Just like football, we’re doing better than a lot of people thought we would.”
Dworak is undecided about running track this spring. “I don’t want to risk anything that would jeopardize football this fall, but I also need to get my speed back somehow,” he said. “I might do that to get back in shape.”
Jablonski and Dworak are two of 10 Lincoln players selected. Joining them on the South squad are Southwest first-team Super-State defensive back TaeVyn Grixby, Southwest all-city defensive lineman Nick Leader, Southeast all-city running back Jaden Davis and East linebackers and twin brothers Braden and Barrett Sellon. Braden was an all-stater and Barrett an all-city selection.
Lincoln players on the North team are Lincoln High first-team Super-State quarterback Cedric Case, Lincoln High all-state receiver CJ Jones and North Star first-team Super-State linebacker Luke Reimer.