Yes, it’s been that long, and the streak has the attention of this year’s coaching staff, led by Steve Buhler of Rossville, who hears about the streak, especially from eastern Kansas Shriners. “We’re reminded of it constantly when we go to various Shrine Bowl functions”, he says. “The Shriners are a very competitive group. Even my two sons (Matt and Mitch) (who both played in the Shrine Bowl) have asked me if ‘we would take care of it this year’. You get it from all sides, but that’s part of the fun of the game. It’s a very competitive situation.”
Buhler will be coaching in the Shrine Bowl for the third time, his first as the head coach. He served as an assistant coach in 2006 and 2011. He says he enjoyed his stints as an assistant coach because it gave him a chance to step back from head coaching duties to work with a small group of players. “The nicest thing was to work with a specific group of kids and to get to know them really well. I’m sure these guys (the 2012 assistants) will enjoy doing that, too.”
Buhler’s assistant coaches bring significant coaching experience to the 2012 game. The Shrine Bowl chooses one coach from each of the five Kansas football classifications, and each led their teams to the playoffs in their respective classes in 2011. This year’s assistants include 6A’s Todd Dain (Olathe Northwest), 5A’s Jason Swift (Shawnee Heights), 4A’s Mike Dumpert (Paola), 3A’s Mike Beam (Rock Creek), and 2-1A’s Scot Koranda (Riverside). Three have served as assistants in previous Shrine Bowl game—Dain in 2002 and 2007, Dumpert in 2007, and Beam in 1992.
The East coaches have wasted no time in getting ready for the 2012 game. “We met right after Christmas in Kansas City”, he says. “We talked about what everybody likes to coach, schemes, and established an offensive and defensive staff.” Buhler, Beam, and Dain will handle the offensive chores, while Swift, Dumpert, and Koranda will coach the defense. Swift will act as defensive coordinator.
Buhler says one of the joys of coaching in the Shrine Bowl is the opportunity to work with other coaches and to share ideas. He says he’s especially looking forward to working with Rock Creek’s Beam, who has been a competitor (and good friend) in the Mid-East League “for the 15 years I’ve been in Rossville”, he says. “Our boys have grown up playing against each other, and we’re looking forward to being on the same sideline together.” The high school competition between the two has a recent chapter. It was Rock Creek that knocked Rossville from the 3A playoffs last fall, winning a tight 14-13 game.
All Shrine Bowl events are produced and presented to benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children [SHC]. SHC is a health care system of 22 hospitals dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing pediatric specialty care, innovative research, and outstanding teaching programs for medical professionals. Children up to the age of 18 are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment, regardless of the patients' ability to pay. The 39th annual Kansas Shrine Bowl will be played Saturday, July 28th, 2012, in Emporia, Kansas, at Welch Stadium on the Emporia State University campus. Kickoff will be at 7:00 pm. Tickets and additional information are available at www.kansasshrinebowl.com or by calling 800-530-5524.