Uinta County well-represented in Shrine Bowl

3 Red Devils, 3 Buffalos to play in annual All-Star game

By Don Cogger, Herald Sports Editor
Posted 6/5/24

With Saturday’s graduation ceremonies at Evanston High School officially in the books, all three of the high schools in Uinta County have now officially sent their seniors on to the next …

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Uinta County well-represented in Shrine Bowl

3 Red Devils, 3 Buffalos to play in annual All-Star game


With Saturday’s graduation ceremonies at Evanston High School officially in the books, all three of the high schools in Uinta County have now officially sent their seniors on to the next chapter of their lives.

For a handful of football players from Evanston and Mountain View, however, there is one more game to be played.

Recently-graduated seniors from around the state descended on Casper Monday for the start of practices for the 2024 Shrine Bowl, the annual senior All-Star game. Six of those players — Kai Barker, Cohen Morrow and Brady Roberts from Evanston, and Fletcher Black, Carson Eardley and Coby Jones from Mountain View — will represent Uinta County on the South Team, led by Torrington head coach Russ Stienmetz. The game is scheduled for Saturday, June 8, at Natrona County High School.

While the North leads the all-time series 26-20-3, the South won last year’s game in a wild finish, 27-24.

Preparation for this year’s event will look a little different, most notably with the cancellation of the trip to the Shriners Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, a staple of the event since its inception in 1974. Players will begin to trickle in to Casper next Monday, with practices to begin in earnest Tuesday morning.

Players instead participated in the Wyoming Shrine Bowl Ambassador Experience on Monday, where they were able to interact with Shriner’s Children’s Ambassador Patients “to see firsthand how their athleticism and commitment to this important all-star football game contributes to life changes for children with orthopedic needs,” according to a press release. The event officially kicked off Shrine Bowl Week.

As practices begin, Stienmetz said the hardest part will be deciding who plays where in the very short amount of time he and his coaching staff have to evaluate all of the talent out of southern Wyoming.

“We have our scheme, our philosophy — how we can fit each kid into a role for us,” Stienmetz said. “We haven’t decided 100% on which side of the ball kids will be playing where — a lot of that will depend on what we see once we start practicing. We have some ideas, so we’ll just go with that.”

That said, it doesn’t make the hard decisions any easier.

“It’s such a challenge to narrow all these great senior athletes down from throughout the southern part of the state to just 36 kids,” Stienmetz said. “Really tough decisions, and you rely on the coaches you select to assist you in that — breaking down film, talking to their coaches, all of that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good problem to have, having that much talent to choose from, from all over the state, really.”


Red Devils

The EHS Red Devils had their best season in years in 2023, and the three Red Devils on the South roster played a major part in that success. All three were named 1st-Team All-State following the 2023 season — Brady Roberts at running back (his second All-State selection), Kai Barker at wide receiver and Cohen Morrow at linebacker.

All are multi-sport athletes — Barker was an All-Conference selection in hoops, and just won a 4A State Championship In the high jump at last month’s Track and Field Championships in Casper; he recently signed with Weber State for track and field. Roberts won a 3A State Championship in wrestling earlier this year at 170 pounds (beating future Shrine Bowl teammate Carson Eardley in the semifinals); he’ll wrestle for Western Wyoming next season. Morrow — named Co-Defensive Player of the Year for the 3A West Conference — also played hoops for the Red Devils, and has signed with Black Hills State to play football in the fall.

“With Evanston, I got with our 3A representative, who said, ‘You need to watch some film on these Evanston kids,’” Stienmetz explained. “As we’re watching film [on Morrow, Barker and Roberts], we’re like, ‘Oh wow, these kids are legit.’ So that’s how we selected those players.”

For Barker, being chosen for the Shrine Bowl is the culmination of years of hard work, on the field and off.

“It means so much to me, because it recognizes my personal and team success that we had this year to be selected, and it makes all of the work I put into football worth it to play one last game,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being able to put my pads on for one last time, and I’m also super-excited to play with some of the best athletes in the state.”

For Morrow, being chosen is about family.

“To be picked for the Shrine Bowl is special to me, mainly because my dad played in the game when he was in high school,” he explained. “But it’s also that I get to go up and play one last game with some of my best friends from Evanston and the Valley.”

Morrow will also have a chance to knock heads with a few of his future teammates, including his new roommate in Spearfish.

“I think what I’m looking forward to most is the camaraderie of being around all of the guys from around the state,” Morrow said. “Plus, I get to play against Wyatt Trembly, who I’m rooming with and playing with up at Black Hills State.”

Mountain View

Stienmetz was a little more familiar with the players from Mountain View, having squared off with head coach Brent Walk’s Buffalos in the playoffs last season. Torrington handed the Buffs their only loss of 2023, ending their hopes for an undefeated season and a state championship. That said, Fletcher Black, Carson Eardley and Coby Jones made an impression.

“We played Mountain View in the semifinals — it was my first-ever trip to Mountain View, and those three kids we selected from that team were just some hammers when we played them in November,” Stienmetz said. “It was hard to narrow it down to just three off that roster, just all talented kids.”

Eardley and Jones were 1st-Team 2A All-State picks following the 2023 season, while Black was a 1st-Team 2A West All-Conference selection, as well as 2nd-Team 2A All-State.