Pittsburg Early in Saturday's Shrine Bowl, the West team didn't look like it had spent the past eight months away from football.
The West took a 20-0 lead against the East in the first quarter of the high school all-star game and held on for a 27-13 victory at Carnie Smith Stadium.
"Going into the game, we were a little worried about our offense," West coach Linn Hibbs of Wellington said, "but we came out and mixed it up real well."
Free State High's Walker Douglas had a hand in the first touchdown of the game, but not in a way he wanted.
Douglas' punt on the game's first possession was blocked by Dustin Dunn of St. Francis High and returned 31 yards for a touchdown by Clay Center's Brad Pyle the longest blocked punt return in the game's 28-year history.
"I just balled it in my hand," Douglas said of the block. "I take full blame on it."
Douglas made up for his mistake as best he could, averaging 37 yards on the rest of his punts. He also had a 10-yard rush on a fake punt late in the second quarter.
"It was in my mind," Douglas said. "I just tried to get every one off as quick as I could to make sure another one didn't get blocked."
Donnie Anders, who rushed for 327 yards and five touchdowns in Salina Central's 56-21 rout over Pittsburg High in last year's Class 5A championship at Pittsburg State, scored the West's second touchdown on a 1-yard run.
Two possessions later, the West struck again.
On his first play, Valley Center's Chad Wilmott connected with Pratt's Eric DePew for a 35-yard touchdown pass that put the West up 20-0 with eight seconds remaining in the first half.
The West's starting quarterback, Taylor Zeka of Wellington, wouldn't be outdone, though, tossing a 21-yard scoring pass to wide open Marcus Watts in the second quarter.
The East finally got on the board in the final minute of the first half. Luke Page of Prairie View scored on a 1-yard run that was setup by a couple hometown players. Pittsburg's Dylan Meier, who will attend Kansas State in the fall, threw back-to-back completions to Pittsburg-Colgan's Eric Clawson on the drive.
Joseph Harris of Olathe South scored on a 16-yard run in the third quarter to cut the West's lead to 14 points.
Derby's Nick Reid, a Kansas University signee, took over at quarterback for the West early in the second half but didn't throw a pass. He rushed six times for 14 yards.
"It's neat that we get to play for the kids," Reid said of the game's charitable aspect, "and I'm glad we came out on top."
Wichita Southeast's Jerome Kemp, another KU signee, rushed for 45 yards on two carries, including a 37-yard jaunt to open the second half, and also spent time at cornerback for the West.
Eudora's Zac Tyler, who will attend Pitt State this fall, didn't play for the East because of a torn right anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in last month's Mo-Kan Metro Classic.
"This was awesome," Tyler said. "I wish I was able to play. I know a lot of these guys from the metro game and it would have been nice to play them again."
Tyler said he would be out most of the upcoming season, but he hoped to be ready for spring practices.
West 27, East 13
East 0 7 6 0 13
West 20 7 0 0 27
West Brad Pyle 31 blocked punt return (kick failed)
West Donnie Anders 1 run (Taylor Zeka to Karsten Bond)
West Chad Wilmott 35 pass to Eric DePew (kick blocked)
West Zeka 21 pass to Marcus Watts (Watts kick).
East Luke Page 1 run (Nick Green kick)
East Joseph Harris 16 run (kick failed)