Five Missoula boys and a slew of other area athletes were among the seniors honored this week as selections to the 69th annual Montana East-West Shrine Game.
The Montana Shrine Game, one of the oldest all-star football contests in the country, is scheduled July 18 at Great Falls' Memorial Stadium. The game is for recently graduated seniors.
Missoula Big Sky had three all-state boys who fit that description on its 2014 squad. Tight end Colin Bingham, running back Cory Diaz and offensive tackle Matt Murphy will represent the Eagles and the West side next summer. The trio helped Big Sky to the state semifinals in Class AA last month.
They'll be joined by Missoula Sentinel's Byron Rollins, a defensive end, and Loyola Sacred Heart's Danner Linhart, a cornerback. Spartan quarterback Kade Paffhausen and a second Loyola cornerback, Stephen Sellman, are listed as alternates should some of the West's roster not be able to participate.
Don Peoples of Butte Central will coach the West while Great Falls CMR's Gary Lowry will handle the East. Both led their programs to state runner-up finishes this fall.
Lowry, a longtime assistant under Jack Johnson before taking over the Rustler program this past season, played in the 1980 Shrine Game during his prep days at CMR. Peoples served as head coach of the West in 1991 and 2002 as well.
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Along with the 40 Montana boys chosen on each side for year's contest, two players from Calgary will join the fray – one on each roster.
The East leads the all-time series 37-31, though the West drew a little closer last year with a 34-10 victory in the 68th edition held in Laurel.
Since 1947, Montana high school players have been selected yearly to compete in the East-West Shrine Game to raise money and public awareness for the Shriner's Hospital for Children in Spokane.
The Montana chapter of the all-star football game has become one of the top Shrine Games in the nation for hospital donors, raising more than $200,000 the past two years alone.