The way East coach Antwain Jimmerson sees it, tonight's Native American All-Star game won't come down to who has the better athletes.
Instead, it will be all about heart.
"The one thing about getting all the Native kids out there, they all compete," Jimmerson said. "I don't how much this game comes down to skill level because they're both going to go at each other."
After a week's worth of practices, the 61 Native American players from the two squads are prepared for tonight's 7:30 kickoff at Haskell Stadium.
"I'm 310 percent ready," said Kenny McGhee, who drove 16 hours from Seminole, Ala., to make the game. "I can't express how ready I am for (tonight)."
After taking Wednesday off to visit Worlds of Fun, the two teams went through final walk-throughs Thursday despite soggy fields.
"This group is pretty quiet and pretty attentive right now," Jimmerson said. "I think they're ready to get out there and play."
Jimmerson will look for his second straight victory as coach of the East squad after winning last year's matchup, 34-7.
He said he felt confident about his chances for a repeat after watching his players' impressive practices.
"We definitely have the best of the best," Jimmerson said. "Coach (and game director Jeff) Bigger didn't look around and grab a bunch of kids that were backups. He got the best he could get."
What: Native American All-Star game Who: 61 players from across the country Where: Haskell Stadium When: 7:30 tonight Tickets: $8 ($2 with high-school ID)
The East will rely on a balanced offensive attack, starting up front with both McGhee and Lawrence High product Aaron Kie, who will be one of only two players from the state of Kansas in the game.
Brad Bodystun will start at quarterback after leading West Moore High to the Oklahoma state quarterfinals and semifinals the last two seasons.
Behind him will be tailbacks Justin Burcum and Bubba Wills, who both carried the load for their respective teams in Oklahoma.
Haskell signee T.J. Hamilton, who set school records in receiving last season, joins Lance Barber and tight end Brandon Smith as likely targets for Bodystun.
"There's going to be a lot of talent," Jimmerson said. "I could load this group up and go back home and be really good."
In his fourth year coaching the West squad, 74-year-old Carl Madison will counter with a more conservative, ground-oriented offense.
"We don't have much time to teach our offense, so we'll run a variety of offensive sets," Madison said. "Hopefully, we can control the ball."
The West squad will platoon its players, using two different quarterbacks and five different running backs.
Though his team might not have the athleticism of the East squad, Madison felt his squad's extra work could make up the difference.
"I think we've progressed," Madison said, "and I think (tonight) we'll do all right."
Introductions for the game will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8, or $2 for students with a high-school ID.
Jimmerson said that fans can expect competitiveness throughout the game.
"I think it would really help my team back home if it had some more Native kids on my team," Jimmerson said. "They're tough, and they're going to fight to the very end."