Montezuma’s Cole Watts, no. 5, goes after a loose ball in home action against Lone Tree last fall. Watts, who helped lead the Braves to a 10-1 mark and a semifinal finish at state in 2020, will represent Montezuma at the 49th Annual Shrine Bowl at the UNI-Dome on Saturday, July 24. Photo by J.O. Parker
By J.O. PARKER
Two Poweshiek County football standouts will be suiting up for their respective schools one more time this summer.
Seniors Cole Watts, Montezuma and Dodge Sauser, Grinnell, have been selected to play in 49th Annual Iowa Shrine Bowl on Saturday, July 24.
Kickoff is at 4 p.m. under the lights at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls. Doors open at 2 p.m.
Both players will represent the south squad, and will square off against some of the best players from the northern half of the state.
“I’m looking forward to the Shrine Bowl and the opportunity to play another football game,” said Watts. “The Shrine Bowl is a unique experience and I’m ready to just be a part of a senior team with kids like me.”
Watts helped lead the 8-Man Braves to a 10-1 record and a semifinals finish at the UNI-Dome. He was named to the first team in the 2020 Class 8P-District 4 All-District Football Team honors.
Sauser, an offensive lineman for the Grinnell Tigers, graduated early and is currently enrolled at Iowa State University where he will suit up in the fall for Matt Campbell’s Cyclones. Sauser said ISU started recruiting him his sophomore year and during his junior year, he was offered a full scholarship and signed the next day.
As a Tiger, Sauser was named Offensive Lineman of the Year in the 2020 3A District 6 All-District Football Team honors.
Sauser, an Iowa native, played his freshman year at Fayetteville High School in Fayetteville, Ark., before moving to Grinnell three years ago after his father, Doug Sauser, was named head coach of the Tigers football team.
“I’m really excited to have this opportunity to play in the game against some really good players from across the state,” said Sauser. “It’s going to be really cool to play. My dad coached the game when I was a little kid and it is cool that I was asked to be a part of the game. It is going to be really cool.”
The game showcases 92 talented high school football players and 60 cheer squad members from around the state. Each squad consists of 46 graduating high school seniors selected for each squad by the coaching staffs. The division line for the north and south basically is Highway 30 as it crosses the state, east to west, with some variation.
The head coach for the south squad is Rob Luther, Baxter. His assistants are Ryan Pezzetti, Ankeny Centennial; James Harris, Washington; Matt Kovacevich, Centerville; Nate Mechaelsen, Underwood and Derek Wharton, Martensdale-St. Mary.
The head coach for the north squad is Paul James, Linn Mar, Marion. His assistants are Brad Remmert, Cedar Falls; Justin Putz, Independence; Mike Swieter, Southeast Valley, Gowrie; Larry Allen, OABCIG and John Olson, Gladbrook-Reinbeck.
The cheerleading coaches for 2021 are Jess Anderson, Megan Herring and Charita Martin, all North Liberty.
Each fall the Iowa high school coaches are requested to recommend a defensive and offensive player whom he feels will be a good representative of his school and community. He is not only a good athlete, but also one who is also academically successful, and active in school and community activities. In July, the Iowa High School Coaches Association selects a head coach for each squad. They in turn select five assistants so as to have one from Class 4-A, 3-A, 2-A, and 1A/A. and 8 person. The coaches select the players from the nominations submitted earlier by their coaches. Every effort is made to select players from across the state, with a representative balance in the number of players from each Shrine Center jurisdiction.
Several years ago, an All-Star Cheerleader program was added. Cheerleaders are nominated by their schools and must attend a tryout, which is held in January. Professional trainers, who are judges, assist in the selection of who will be invited to attend camp.
This year a “Mini-Camp” will be held on the UNI campus for hospital children. All children will work with the football players and cheerleaders to learn skills of football and cheerleading. The player and cheerleader’s enthusiasm for the day of this annual game is heightened, when they see how the profits from this game are helping hundreds of Iowa’s physically handicapped children.
The Iowa Shrine Bowl has raised more than $2,760,000 for the Shriners Hospitals for Children since the first game 42 years ago. There are 17 orthopedic hospitals in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Hawaii, three burn centers in the United States and one unit in the US that treats all types of cases.
“We have been privileged to have some of the finest football players participate in this prestigious game – many who have gone on to excel at the college and professional level,” noted a Shrine Bowl spokesperson. “Regardless of the score, everyone is a winner in the All-Star game, especially our hospitals.”
The annual Shrine Bowl parade will be held on Main Street in Cedar Falls beginning at 9:30 a.m.
“It’s going to be a great time to enjoy my final go around and get to meet children from Shriners Hospitals and hopefully make a positive impact on their lives,” said Watts. “I know it will open my eyes and put me into perspective of their lives on a day-to-day basis.”
Pre-purchased tickets are $11 per person and are available online at https://www.iowashrinebowl.org/sb_tickets.htm.
Grinnell’s Dodge Sauser, no. 75, an offensive lineman for the Tigers, lines up against an opponent’s defense in a game last fall. Sauser, who graduated early and is attending classes at Iowa State University, has signed a letter of intent to play college football for Matt Campbell’s Cyclones. Sauser will represent Grinnell at the 49thAnnual Shrine Bowl at the UNI-Dome on Saturday, July 24. Submitted photo from Grinnell High School