SHELLEY — After giving up 11 straight completions and two straight touchdowns to start the game, it looked as if the District 6 defense would have no answer for the District 5 spread offense Friday night.
But the D6 senior all stars stopped D5 on nine of its next 10 possessions, forcing four turnovers in a 27-21 win in the second annual Idaho National Guard East Idaho All-Star game at Shelley High School.
“It’s been a while since we played football, and it took us a little while to get into the flow of things again,” Bonneville’s Elijah Williams said. “Once we got in the flow we started rolling.”
Playing in front of a crowd conservatively estimated at 2,800 by Shelley athletic director Dave Hadley, the D6 all stars scored the final 14 points of the game and held off a late charge in a game that was still in doubt with 90 seconds to play.
Rigby’s Landon Larsen did his best Cris Carter impression, catching three passes — all for touchdowns — including the game winner from Salmon’s Jedd Tibbitts early in the fourth quarter.
Larsen also caught a pair of touchdowns from former Rigby QB and current Skyline senior Zak Bennett, bringing back memories of good times in Jefferson County.
“We just kept drawing up plays and they were biting hard on the motion. I got into single coverage and just went up and made plays,” Larsen said. “It’s good to get out here with a bunch of old friends you grew up with and I am glad we came out on top.”
For others, such as Larsen’s teammate and High Country Conference Defensive Player of the Year Kayden Killpack, the all-star celebration was a chance to audition for work on the collegiate stage.
“I’m a big D-lineman, but I’m also faster than most linemen in the state,” Killpack said. “I just wanted to show what I had and give those colleges a last chance to see what I’ve got.”
Idaho Falls defensive back Braxton Hardy had a key stop on D5’s final drive, breaking up a pass with a wicked stick that leveled Highland’s Kaden Ockey on third-and-27 with 1:35 remaining.
“I was waiting for that big hit all game. I wanted it, coach wanted it, and everybody wanted it,” Hardy said. “None of us like Highland. We got close in that first quarter and came out and won the second half.”
Things got a little interesting in the fourth quarter as emotions took over, resulting in the ejection of one player from both teams on separate plays. By the time the clock hit 0:00, however, the brotherhood of football led to high-5s and bro-hugs on the 50-yard line.
“Emotions were running high, and for a lot of us it’s the last football game we will ever play, so it can get a little chippy,” Tibbitts said. “To come out and play with some of the best talent in Idaho and see if you can compete, it was one of the best experiences of my high school career.”